The Bargaining Power of Suppliers, one of the forces in Porter’s Five Forces Industry Analysis Framework, is the mirror image of the bargaining power of buyers and refers to the pressure that suppliers can put on companies by raising their prices, lowering their quality, or reducing the availability of their products. This framework is a standard part of business strategy.
The bargaining power of the supplier in an industry affects the competitive environment and profit potential of the buyers. The buyers are the companies and the suppliers are those who supply the companies.
The bargaining power of suppliers is one of the forces that shape the competitive landscape of an industry and help determine the attractiveness of an industry. The other forces include competitive rivalry, bargaining power of buyers, the threat of substitutes, and the threat of new entrants.
Depending on the industry, there are various types of suppliers. A list of types includes:
Manufacturers and Vendors: Sell products to distributors, wholesalers, and retailers
Distributors and Wholesalers: Purchase goods in medium/high quantity for sale to retailers or local distributors
Independent Suppliers / Independent Craftspeople: Sell unique products directly to retailers or agents
Importers and Exporters: Purchase products from manufacturers in one country and export to a distributor in a different country
Drop shippers: Suppliers of products for different kinds of companies
Determining Factors: Bargaining Power of Suppliers
There are five major factors when determining the bargaining power of suppliers:
Number of suppliers relative to buyers
Dependence of a supplier’s sale on a particular buyer
Switching cost (switching costs of suppliers)
Availability of suppliers for immediate purchase
Possibility of forward integration by suppliers
When is Bargaining Power of Suppliers High/Strong?
Switching costs of buyers are high
Threat of forward integration is high
Small number of suppliers relative to buyers
Low dependence of a supplier’s sale on a particular buyer
Switching costs of suppliers are low
Substitutes are unavailable
Buyer relies heavily on sales from suppliers
When is Bargaining Power of Suppliers is Low/Weak?
Switching costs of buyers are low
Threat of forward integration is low
Large number of suppliers relative to buyers
High dependence of a supplier’s sale on a particular buyer
Switching costs of suppliers are high
Substitutes are available
Buyer does not rely heavily on sales from suppliers
Purpose of Bargaining Power of Suppliers Analysis
When doing an analysis of supplier power in an industry, low supplier power creates a more attractive industry and increases profit potential, as buyers are not constrained by suppliers. High supplier power creates a less attractive industry and decreases profit potential, as buyers rely more heavily on suppliers.
Bargaining Supplier Power in the Fast Food Industry
To determine whether McDonald’s faces high or low bargaining power from suppliers in the fast-food industry, consider the following analysis:
The number of suppliers relative to buyers: There are a significant amount of suppliers relative to buyers (companies). Therefore, supplier power is low.
Dependence of a supplier’s sale on a particular buyer: If we assume that suppliers have few customers (e.g., a small/medium-sized firm), they are likely to give in to the demands of buyers. On the other hand, if we assume suppliers have several customers, they have more power over buyers. Since we do not know whether these suppliers have few or many buyers, a middle ground would be a reasonable answer. Therefore, supplier power is medium.
Switching costs: Since there are a significant amount of suppliers in the fast-food industry, switching costs are low for buyers. Supplier power is low.
Forward Integration: There is low forward integration in the fast-food industry.
Overall, McDonald’s faces low bargaining power of suppliers. Therefore, supplier power is not an issue for McDonald’s in the fast-food industry.
However, the bargaining power of suppliers alone does not determine the overall attractiveness of an industry. The remaining forces (bargaining power of buyers, rivalry among existing competitors, the threat of new entrants, and the threat of substitutes) must be taken into consideration when determining overall industry attractiveness.
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