Updated October 28, 2020:

While supplier contracts and agreements are an important part of many businesses, many owners are not aware of everything they need to know. There are many names for supplier contracts and agreements. Some of the names you may hear are: 

  • Details of supply 
  • Trade agreements
  • Service contracts
  • Management contracts
  • Schedule of services
  • Details of service
  • Other variations of these names  

Supplier contracts are agreements between a company and its suppliers of services or goods. The supplier contract is the legal agreement governing the relationship between the supplier and the company. Key elements of a supplier agreement are: 

  • The items the supplier must provide 
  • Pricing and payments for all goods and/or services 
  • Expected time frames for work completion and payments 
  • The responsibilities and terms of the relationship

You must write these contracts clearly, especially as the supplier. The supplier agreement is most beneficial to the supplier. It protects the supplier in the event that a client is unhappy with the services they provide. A clearly written agreement helps you make sure that the services and products ordered reach the client quickly without unnecessary complications. 

You need to account for current and future distribution contracts when writing new supplier contracts. If you are already contracted to provide services to a client under a strict supplier agreement, you need to account for this in the new agreement. 

Costs are another aspect that is itemized. If there are significant savings for larger orders, this needs to be in the supplier agreement as well. These agreements provide a structure for determining pricing and profits for a company producing products. The success of a company hinges on this contract when it comes to distributing products. 

When a Supplier Contract is Needed

You need to use a supplier contract anytime you purchase or provide products or services to another business or individual. Documenting the transaction with a contract helps ensure businesses and suppliers take the relationship and obligations seriously. It references important milestones like the delivery of goods and services and time frames for making payments on-time. 

You also use these useful agreements when you establish a manufacturer/supplier and distributor relationship. This happens when you create a new product and hire a company to make the product before offering it to the public. 

The terms and clauses of the agreements are different depending on the industry and products provided. Proprietary information is an important part of the contract. A confidentiality agreement ensures the manufacturer or distributor does not share your trade secrets or formulas. This protection comes from confidentiality expectations in the contract. 

A clause with the locations where products are sold is also important. The protection of your business ideas is a huge benefit. However, you still need to use an agreement even if there are no confidentiality concerns. Some terms of the agreement may include restrictions by large companies that do not want a supplier providing chemicals or ingredients to other companies. 

Regulator requirements and liability clauses must also be included in the agreement. Essentially, the agreement must include everything that governs a businesses manufacturing. Many different business types and industries use these contracts. They all share a common theme: one party creates products for another and the other party sells the products. 

The manufacturing party is contracted to create a limited amount of products or provide services within a specified timeline. 

Some of the useful ways service contracts and supplier agreements are used are below:

  • Giving provisions of service 
  • Providing the services an organization will provide to another person or business 
  • Information regarding the management and order fulfillment process for products or services
  • The contracting of direct services; Subcontracting services
  • Licensing agreements; Rental agreements and the supply of rented items
  • Leasing or franchising of equipment
  • Many other aspects of the relationship between suppliers and businesses

The truth is, there are many large, well-known companies with supplier agreements they are not paying enough attention to. Companies routinely write contracts and have them signed only to file them away and pay little attention to them afterward. 

So, if you need help setting up your supplier contracts and agreements, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.