Like buyers, suppliers are competing for the firm’s profits. Suppliers want to charge the firm more for inputs and the firm wants to pay the supplier less for those same inputs. Consequently, competitive intelligence extends to suppliers and it is in the firm’s interest to know as much as possible about their suppliers. Suppliers may offer exclusive territories, financing, advertising, display, and other incentives to the firm to encourage the use or sale of the supplier’s product. The firm should evaluate and select its suppliers carefully in order to take full advantage of any and all cost savings offered by suppliers.
In many industries it is common for buyers to form cooperatives in order to increase their bargaining power relative to suppliers. The cooperative, sometimes comprised of hundreds of smaller firms, is able to use its combined buying power to bargain with suppliers for better prices and terms. For example, in North America, buyer cooperatives are quite visible in the retail hardware industry as represented by the “Ace”, “Hardware Hank”, and “True Value” hardware stores. Despite the potentially antagonistic relationship between the firm and its suppliers, suppliers often offer benefits that can improve the firm’s competitive position in the industry.