5 Ways to Build and Maintain
Strong Retailer Relationships

July 14th, 2022 | 3 min read

retailer vendor relationships

Strong, collaborative relationships with retailers are crucial to being a successful vendor. While, in theory, creating and maintaining these working relationships appears straightforward, they can be more challenging and sophisticated in practice.

If you’re looking to start new retailer relationships on the right foot, enhance your existing relationships, or learn what you can do to ensure that you are your retailer’s favorite vendor, keep reading.

Why are Retailer-Vendor Relationships Important?

Before we dive in, let’s start with the basics: Why should you care about forging and maintaining quality retailer relationships in the first place?

You naturally have a favorite retailer, and your retailers each have a favorite vendor. When you are your retailer’s favorite vendor, you receive a lot of perks that other vendors cannot access—for instance, special promotions and main-page product placement.

Importantly, your retailers represent your brand and are critical to customer experience. At the end of the day, you and your retailers are serving a mutual end customer. To provide the best customer experience possible, you must collaborate and share relevant goals and values.

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What can you do as a Vendor to Help Strengthen Relationships with your Retailers?

1) Foster Collaboration

From the beginning, it is crucial to hold a mindset that considers your relationship with your retailer as a collaborative partnership with the goal of “wow-ing” your mutual end customer.

As you build the relationship, this mindset will expand to tasks like coordinating marketing promotions and campaigns. For example, you could offer to co-sponsor ads that feature both you and the retailer’s brands.

Instead of treating the vendor-retailer relationship as adversarial, figure one another as an extension of your company.

2) Set Clear Expectations

Immediately setting clear expectations of one another makes a reliable and successful vendor-retailer partnership. This way, everything runs smoothly, and neither party encounters any unwanted surprises.

To lay out your expectations, we suggest creating a contract that details service levels, turnaround times, payment terms, shipping fees, dropship fees, inventory sync frequencies, and return policies. Additionally, your contract should include termination policies and legalities. If you want to check out our free-to-download vendor agreement, click here.

In addition to a contract, assigning a designated point of contact simplifies communication and expectations. For instance, have a specific person responsible for major functions like merchandising, shipping and fulfillment, and customer service.

3) Establish Effective Communication

While setting clear expectations should be thought out at the beginning of the partnership, effective communication must be continuously employed throughout your working relationship.

Daily, you and your retailers should be able to effectively and concisely communicate changes in inventory, pricing, new products, shipment tracking, and receipt confirmation, among other variables.

Overall, this helps to avoid any mistakes and disruptions. Namely, selling out-of-stock items or incorrectly priced items.

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4) Provide Something “Extra” for your Retailers

It would help to think outside the box to become your retailer’s favorite vendor. This can incentivize them to prioritize your products, run collaborative promotions for your products, or present them in a particularly attractive way that stands out.

Here are some ways to impress your retailers to avoid being viewed as just any other vendor.

a) Offer promotions
b) Provide hassle-free return policies
c) Give them early access to new products
d) Supply striking product photography
e) Send them samples or test products

5) Invest in the Right Technology and Networking Tools

All successful business owners can agree that you cannot do everything alone. Manual processes are not saleable, and some things are only possible with the right team of people and the right technology in your corner.

We suggest finding an inventory management software that creates feeds. For instance, Duoplane is a dropship automation software that allows you and your retailers to communicate and serve your mutual customers seamlessly. With a sophisticated system like Duoplane, you can automate your inventory feeds, catalog updates, purchase orders, invoice payments, and many other backend processes.

Additionally, if you are having trouble managing your warehousing and shipping on your own, it may be worthwhile to outsource to a 3PL (third-party logistics). You can learn more about a 3PL strategy here.

Ideally, vendors and retailers work together to identify the systems and technologies that best serve their mutual end customers. Should these technologies be accessible and mutually beneficial, we highly suggest keeping a vendor and retailer portal in the same system.

Overall, keeping an open, honest, and transparent relationship with your retailers is critical to ensure success. Be true to your business, but also trust your retailers as a resource for new insights, growth strategies, and marketing assistance. The extent to which retailers and vendors can forge and maintain highly effective will determine the experience they provide to their mutual end customer and their ability to thrive in today’s e-commerce world.

how to build and maintain retailer relationships

This post was last updated on Aug 17, 2023.

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A collaborative mindset transforms the vendor-retailer dynamic from adversarial to partnership. This approach focuses on jointly serving and “wow-ing” the mutual end customer. It fosters coordinated marketing promotions, shared goals, and a seamless brand representation.

Setting clear expectations, ideally from the outset, ensures smooth operations and prevents unwanted surprises in the partnership. A detailed contract highlighting service levels, payment terms, and other vital components ensures both parties understand their roles, responsibilities, and deliverables. This clarity reduces misunderstandings and streamlines communication.

To stand out and become a favorite vendor, businesses can:

  • Offer exclusive promotions to incentivize sales.
  • Introduce hassle-free return policies for better customer experience.
  • Provide early access to new products, giving retailers a competitive edge.
  • Supply high-quality product photography to enhance online listings.
  • Send samples or test products for firsthand evaluation.

In the evolving e-commerce landscape, manual processes can limit scalability and efficiency. Vendors streamline operations, ensure timely updates, and offer seamless communication with retailers by investing in the right technology, like inventory management software or dropship automation tools. These tools can automate inventory feeds, catalog updates, and other backend processes, making the vendor-retailer relationship more cohesive.

Consistent, clear communication allows vendors and retailers to stay updated on critical changes like inventory levels, pricing adjustments, and new product launches. This real-time exchange prevents potential issues such as selling out-of-stock items, mispricing products, or misaligned marketing efforts. Effective communication ensures both parties remain aligned, enhancing the overall customer experience.

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Duoplane is a dropshipping automation software built by dropshippers, for dropshippers. We’re here to help you streamline your ecommerce retail fulfillment operations and automate order routing, inventory syncing, shipment feeds, and more.

Don’t just take our word for it – check out our reviews and case studies to learn why we’ve been the industry-leading solution for over 12 years, assisting over 300 retailers in onboarding over 2000 vendors and 3PL warehouses.

Experience the best dropshipping automation software risk-free with our 14-day free trial. Our dedicated onboarding specialists will guide you through the setup process, ensuring you’re ready to hit the ground running.



Automated Order Routing

Duoplane intelligently and automatically routes orders to the right vendor or warehouse.

Vendor Portal

Keep everyone on the same page and save time by allowing vendors to manage their orders.

Inventory Syncing

Automate vendor inventory feeds to keep your product catalog accurate.

Accounting Automation

Stay on top of your books by connecting with your accounting system to sync vendor invoices.

Multi-Channel Support

Streamline your operations and centralize orders from all of your e-commerce channels

Complete Order Management

Manage the full order cycle, including changes, shipments, returns, and order exceptions.

Seamless Integration

Duoplane connects to your existing systems to minimize manual effort by you or your team.

Vendor Scorecarding

Provide feedback to vendors using actionable performance metrics.

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