It’s not just vendors looking for collaborations to boost their business. Online procurement specialist Acquire is a business built on partnerships, by offering partners something in return these relationships help secure a regular customer base for Acquire’s online sales. CEO Simon Scott says Acquire’s strategy for gaining customers is entirely dependent on partnerships that offer a win-win outcome for both sides and, most importantly, add customer service.
“We want to attract smaller service companies or individual engineers that look after a few customers. The way we do this is by partnering with them and giving them access to our back office and CRM systems as well as dealing with the procurement side of things for them. What we’ve found is that through collaboration these engineers’ customers end up buying through the Acquire web site.”
Each relationship is different, with some based on profit-share agreements between the engineer or service company and Acquire.
However opening your business up to partnerships can bring problems admits Scott. “Our service agent and engineer partners hold our relationship with our suppliers in their hands and they can very easily screw it up. If a delivery goes wrong they can take their complaint directly to the supplier but the supplier sees them as an Acquire customer.”
Therefore Acquire places emphasis on strong distributor relationships too, in line with its philosophy that strategic collaborations must be accompanied with good service and a willingness to help others. If a distributor is over-stocked in a particular product Acquire helps shift the goods on its web site as a way of massaging supplier relationships. “If a distributor is contacted by an end user who is looking to purchase something the distributor has to decide where to send the customer. If you’re popular you’ll get the referral”, says Scott.
With the customer front of mind Acquire is looking to build relationships with more service providers - it already has a relationship with Axon offering joint procurement and IT services to ING New Zealand. “We are a procurement specialist only and always will be”, says Scott, “but by offering procurement separately the customer benefits from a much clearer picture of what things really cost.”
Acquire also partners with the Chamber of Commerce to provide it-vital, an IT web site for chamber members. The site allows the chamber to deal with different vendors and allows vendors to offer chamber members special bundle deals.
“This benefits everyone involved in the collaboration”, says Scott. “By identifying sales made directly through it-vital the vendor gets a more identifiable return on investment, the chamber can use it-vital to benefit its members and for Acquire these portals bring a lot of referrals. At the end of the day we don’t have a proactive sales force, so these referrals are important.”