Business English - Deliveries and Suppliers

Business colleagues in meeting
altrendo images/ Stockbyte/ Getty Images

Susan: Doug, can I talk with you for a moment?
Doug: What can I do for you Susan?

Susan: I'm concerned about the delays we're experiencing with some of our suppliers.
Doug: We're doing everything to get back on schedule.

Susan: Could you give me an approximate timeline?
Doug: A number of deliveries are arriving tomorrow. Unfortunately, this time of year is often troublesome.

Susan: That's not good. We can't make excuses to our clients.

Are all shipments affected?
Doug: No, but it is summer and some companies are cutting back until September.

Susan: Where are most of our suppliers located?
Doug: Well, most of them are in China, but there are a few in California.

Susan: How does that affect deliveries?
Doug: Well, there are weather delays and shipment delays due to reduced production. Sometimes, larger packages are delayed because of a bottleneck at the distribution point.

Susan: Is there any way around these delays?
Doug: Well, we often work with delivery services such as UPS, Fed ex or DHL for our most urgent shipping. They guarantee door-to-door deliveries within 48 hours.

Susan: Are they expensive?
Doug: Yes, they're very expensive at that cuts into our bottom line.

Key Vocabulary

delay = (noun / verb) put back in time something that is scheduled
supplier = (noun) a manufacturer of parts, items, etc. 
to get back on schedule = (verb phrase) when you are behind schedule, try to catch up 
timeline = (noun) the expected times when events will happen
delivery = (noun) when products, parts, items, etc.

arrives at a company
shipment = (noun) the process of sending products, items, parts, from the manufacturer to the client company
to cut back = (phrasal verb) reduce
to make excuses = (verb phrase) give reasons why something bad happened
increased / reduced production = (noun phrases) production which is becoming more or less
package = (noun) items in a box that are shipped
bottleneck = (noun - idiomatic) difficulties in keeping something going because of some limitation
distribution point = (noun) the place where items are divided up for deliveries to individual clients
bottom line = (noun) total profit or loss
to cut into = (phrasal verb) reduce something

Comprehension Quiz

Check your understanding with this multiple choice comprehension quiz.

1. Why is Susan concerned?

 They're delaying shipments to suppliers.
 They're experiencing delays from suppliers.
 They're back on schedule.

2. What are they doing?

 Trying to get back on schedule
 Not worrying about the problem
 Taking legal action against the suppliers

3. Which excuse does Doug give?

 That the suppliers are unreliable.
 That the time of year is often troublesome.
 That they changed suppliers.

4. Where are most of the suppliers located?

 In California
 In Japan
 In China

5. Which is NOT a reason given for the delays?

 Weather delays
 Reduced production
 Payment difficulties

6. How do they sometimes resolve these problems?

 They change suppliers.
 They use delivery services.
 They manufacture their own products.


  1. They're experiencing delays from suppliers
  2. Trying to get back on schedule
  3. That the time of year is often troublesome
  4. In China
  5. Payment difficulties
  6. They use delivery services

Vocabulary Check

Provide a word from the key vocabulary to fill in the gaps. 

  1. We'll need to get a new ____________ for those parts. 
  2. What's the ___________ for the project? When will it start and when will it finish?
  3. I'm afraid we need to ______ travel because it's hurting our ___________.
  1. Do you think we can _______________ by the end of next week? This __________ is killing our business!
  2. Please take that ______________ to room 34. 
  3. We received a ____________ last Friday of various parts. Unfortunately, the __________ was more than five days late!


  1. supplier
  2. timeline
  3. cut back / bottom line
  4. get back on schedule / delay
  5. package
  6. shipment / delivery