Our indirect vendors have different names for us (mostly good I think) but at HP we are called a "non-PSP" (Print Service Provider) and by creating this more formal relationship we have made really great strides into helping influence our supply chain from a print side. Other links of the chain are not as straightforward to influence.
Paper for example. Over the past few months we've been doing a lot of research into different paper stocks and the global supply chain to better understand how we can stay agile when we want to add options or make changes as well as take advantage of our worldwide reach. Not as easy as it sounds. While a relationship with a press manufacturer is pretty straight forward, buying paper is much less so. There are lots of links in the supply chain but none as important as the guys that handle the paper the last mile. And those folks may not even know who Blurb is or how much we influence the paper being used by their customer, our print partner.
Having an influence on this piece of the puzzle is one I want to really get my head around. The likely place to start is from the manufacturer but it may come down to building local relationships with the suppliers for each of my print partners. Not the easiest way to do it but as we grow we need to maintain our ability to move quickly, efficiently and at favorable prices to keep our products competitive in the marketplace.