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What is Supplier Opportunity Cost? – Definition

What is Supplier Opportunity Cost? – Definition

When it comes to business, the decisions you make can mean the difference between success and failure. Supplier opportunity cost is a concept that can help guide these decisions so that you get the best possible outcome for your company. In simplest terms, supplier opportunity cost is the value of a given decision when compared to its alternatives. It’s about looking at what could have been gained or lost if another choice had been made instead. When selecting a supplier, for example, understanding this concept can help you pick the option with the highest potential return on investment. In this post, we’ll explore supplier opportunity cost in more depth and explain how it impacts business decisions. Let’s dive in!

What is supplier opportunity cost?

When a company is trying to find a supplier for a good or service, the opportunity cost is the cost of the next best alternative. In other words, it’s what the company gives up by not choosing that alternative.

The opportunity cost can be thought of in terms of money, but it also includes other factors, such as time and resources. For example, if a company spends two weeks searching for a supplier and ultimately chooses one that’s 10% more expensive than the second-best option, the opportunity cost isn’t just 10% of the price of the good or service. It also includes the time and resources spent on the search.

In general, companies want to minimize their opportunity costs. That means finding suppliers who are both high-quality and low-cost. But sometimes trade-offs have to be made. A company might choose a supplier that’s more expensive but can deliver goods or services faster. Or it might choose a supplier that’s lower-priced but less reliable.

It’s important to remember that opportunity cost is always relative. What might seem like a high opportunity cost to one company might be low for another. For example, a small business might have only a few potential suppliers to choose from, so its opportunity cost is higher than that of a large corporation with many options.

How is it calculated?

Supplier opportunity cost is the potential revenue that a supplier could have earned by supplying a good or service to another firm, had they not supplied it to the firm in question. This opportunity cost is often calculated by comparing the profit margins of the firm in question to those of other firms in the same industry. In some cases, supplier opportunity cost may also include the cost of lost business opportunities, if the supplier was unable to supply a good or service to another firm due to its commitment to the firm in question.

What factors influence supplier opportunity cost?

Supplier opportunity cost is the cost to a supplier of producing one more unit of output. This cost includes all the costs associated with supplying the good or service, including Fixed Costs and Variable Costs. The opportunity cost to the supplier is the difference between the total cost of supplying the good or service and the revenue received from selling it.

There are many factors that can influence a supplier’s opportunity cost, including:

1. The type of business: Some businesses have higher overhead costs than others, which can increase their opportunity cost. For example, a manufacturing company has greater fixed costs (such as machinery) than a service company (which may only need office space and supplies).

2. The level of production: A company that is already operating at full capacity will have a higher opportunity cost than a company that has spare capacity. This is because the company will have to pay for overtime or new equipment to increase production.

3. The price of inputs: If the price of raw materials or other inputs increases, this will increase the opportunity cost for the supplier. For example, if the price of steel increases, then the opportunity cost for a steel manufacturer will also increase.

4. Government regulations: Some government regulations can make it more expensive for companies to do business, thereby increasing their opportunity cost. For example, environmental regulations may require companies to install expensive pollution-control equipment.

Why is supplier opportunity cost important?

Supplier opportunity cost is important because it ensures that suppliers are fairly compensated for their products or services. It also allows businesses to accurately compare the cost of different supplier options. Without accurate opportunity cost information, businesses may make poor sourcing decisions that could lead to increased costs and decreased profits.


In conclusion, supplier opportunity cost is an important concept for businesses to understand when it comes to making decisions about which suppliers they should use. By considering the additional costs that come with working with a different supplier, buyers can make better and more informed choices. Additionally, by understanding how to calculate their own supplier opportunity cost and what factors influence it, buyers can maximize their returns from any given purchasing decision.

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