Negotiating Inventory Scuffles between Tech Stores – An Opinion Piece

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Let’s forget about tech stores for a moment.

Focus on the truism of the trade.

All businesses depend on their supply chains to make ends meet.

Their commercial viability rests on procurements. Delivered, along a defined schedule, from a sea of vendors. Merchants in possession of the raw materials that make up their products. Or the abstract and/or material inputs that inform their services.

In every industry of scale, there is simply no going around this process. Increasing technological and conceptual field advancements have only added layers to this base. Complicating it in breadth of structure – but streamlining its operation.

An Automated Field…

Nowadays, most companies maintain robust supply chains with dedicated Inventory Management Software (IMS). Like computer repair shop software, these make for end-to-end organizational solutions. Turning the job of organizing and executing daily workflows a ‘walk in the park’ affair.

Typical IMS frameworks provide real-time data on vendors’ inventory stocks. Further, they give detailed transit-time info. Enabling companies to be on top of their material requirements at all times. And to cash in on any bulk discounts up for the taking.

…but more tech is not the answer

But despite this automation, inventory scuffles still abound in the field. Caused by friction between suppliers and business procurers, or between the suppliers themselves. Stalemates that can prove paralyzing for entire industries – impeding their progress.

Now, most of these blockages aren’t caused by a ‘laxity of tech’. They owe their genesis and progression to the human element. Or, more precisely, a shortage of the skills required to pursue effective negotiations. 

Soft-skills that can make or break a sales company on any day of the week. 

Unspoken, legit, rules of the game. The kinds that need mastering to attract wholesale business success.

What I’ve distilled, based on lengthy industry experience, in the pointers below. Set for your pen-and-paper recollection.

Let’s start with the obvious – the perennial elephant in the room always getting in the way.


On Ego & Tact in Inventory Negotiations

Ego forms the psychological essence of the human species. It is the base of all individual identity – what separates one from the many. The boundary between self and non-self, it is the wellspring of self-respect. A central human virtue that, when wielded in balance, invites the respect of others.

This is all obvious, nursery school, stuff. The components of selfhood understood by everyone.

Problems arise when ego transgresses beyond its bounds. Where it leads to a stiffness in relations. Fomenting a zone of no-compromise. The ‘my way or the highway’ kind of orientation.

Now businesses (and much of life, really) thrive on fluidity. On the unchecked flow of goods and other inputs/outputs on a constant conveyor belt.

Here, the art of negotiation is like a lubricant the keeps the rollers moving. In practice, it translates roughly into the act of ‘giving up some for attaining more’. A hard ask, understandably, for those new to the system. But a way of life, often, for the field veterans. The specialists called upon when the blockages don’t give.

This prescription, however, comes with a necessary caveat. A consideration of the point when the ‘oil’ becomes too runny. Resembling water. Unable to turn any roller; just a wasted effort depleting of valuable business currency.

Resist bending over past the point of breakage

Flexibility in correspondence, in give and take, is a valuable life attainment. But when deployed to an excessive fault, it becomes a personal nuisance. An anathema to the ego and self, inviting disrespect and censure. If not abject humiliation.

You want to give – but also hold back. Resist the urge to go unhinged with the flow; which feels easier. A course that, in retrospect, always bogs down long-term productivity.

Now working with a computer repair shop software certainly helps maintain the reserve. A distance where you get to vocally disengage from suppliers. Endowing your presence with a rarity of presence (I’m waxing poetic, no?).

Balance, in other words: The Key.

The good news here is that it definitely gets easier to muster with age. Even if the experience of the field somehow fails to impart its timely lessons on this front.

Transfer Process Ownership to Suppliers

All businesses hoping to scale need to get their supply chains under control. The best, most idyllic, way to do this is to set them up in-house. Reduce all dependence on outside vendors and contractors.

But when you’re in the growing phase, you obviously can’t stretch your operations like this.

So how do you ensure smooth materials flow in the meantime? Particularly when all the cards for negotiating have been expended?

Well, a good way to keep the butter churning is to offer stake. Not strictly in a ‘giving shares/equity’ sense. But in shared profits. Incentivize the vendors with monetary and/or other compensation to keep the traffic moving.

The said practice is an ice-breaker/business facilitator like no other. Many repair shop software these days come equipped with equity outreach features. So if a particular supplier makes dealings difficult, they can be ‘neutralized’ with a well-aimed stake pitch.

Turn to ‘Macro Empathy’

My own coinage, ‘macro empathy’ is the concept of taking stock of the larger industry picture during tricky negotiations. It involves inviting vendors to consider their business customers as peer-participants in the same field. In this imagining, based on reality, the success of one depends on the other. So it only makes apt commercial sense to partner up and pursue mutual benefit.

A good place to start this generous take on collaborations is through a rejection of all the trade nitties. The small things which both invite and perpetuate disagreement. Even if profitable over the short haul, these need to be side-stepped in the interests of the greater good.

In practice, this may mean choosing to ignore the outputs of POS software for a time. Denying the lure of petty squabble and revenue games for the sake of a revenue promise that is greater; justifies the compromise.

At the end of the day, pacifying inventory skirmishes is a ‘to each their own’ type of endeavor. The important thing here, and in all related circumstances, is to focus on gut instinct. Softened, perhaps, with a sprinkling of good humor and diplomacy.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve got any different insider tips to dish!

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