Five reasons visiting your suppliers is a winning strategy


There are so many expenses when running a small business. Someof them can be minimised, but the one place I believe you shouldn’t try to scrimp and save is your relationship with your supplier.

Investing in the people creating your product will see long-term benefits and create value for your business. 

I recently paid an in-person visit to my supplier in China, and this is what I gained from my latest trip:

Stronger relationships

Suppliers value and respect the investment you are making to build the relationship. Face-to-face interactions establish stronger ties, fosters trust, and leads to better communication and cooperation. Some suppliers may pick you up from the airport and take you to your hotel, and even offer to take you sightseeing. I was also blown away by the warmth and hospitality shown by my hosts in China. We were treated like family. 

Quality and process issues

Being physically present allows you to inspect the quality of the facilities, the working conditions and how processes are managed. It can also help resolve issues quickly and more effectively. 

Understanding their full product range

You won’t be able to observe the full spectrum of your supplier’s production capability or range over the phone or messages. Suppliers will have a showroom to present ideas for alternative or complementary products that you can discuss immediately. Remember – just because they haven’t made the product before does not mean they do not have the interest or ability to build something customised.


In-person discussions often lead to more effective negotiations. You may be able to negotiate better prices, terms, or delivery schedules when meeting suppliers directly.

Cultural understanding

Understanding the culture and business practices in the country can help you navigate negotiations and build a more effective working relationship. Be aware of any specific requirements when meeting with suppliers and local etiquettes (such as gift giving). Also be aware some countries, like China, won’t have all the online services we take for granted, like Google, including Gmail, Maps and Translate. It can also be a good idea to purchase a local SIM card on arrival or activate roaming in case WiFi isn’t readily available. 

The initial cost of an international trip might be off-putting, but the long-term gains are priceless.

For businesses just starting out, it may not be viable, but as your business grows, a trip to see your suppliers is a worthwhile investment and an amazing opportunity to build relationships, trust and obtain a better understanding of a new business culture.