Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 16 seconds

supplier shareIn order for suppliers to be of value to their retailers, they must figure out how to manage customer relationships. Many suppliers have copped a victim mentality over the years and it comes as little surprise that retailers don’t want to deal with that attitude any longer. With products ranging in the hundreds or hundreds of thousands, retailers have come to expect more value add from their suppliers. They need to know which products are performing, underperforming -- or are so hot they can’t stock them fast enough.


“Retailers understand that they are unable to be the best advocates for every product they carry,’’ according to the SPS report, Point-of-Sale Data Sharing the New Standard for the Retail Supply Chain. “At the same time, they know that their suppliers have the most at stake in making certain their own products are properly positioned.”

Let’s say a retailer has a calculation for sell-through, and that’s a metric that is important for the buyer and supplier to look at. Technology that provides a shared view allows them to pre-populate that calculation so when supplier logs in to look at it they’re seeing the data the way retailer wants them to see it, so they’re both talking about the same thing and can offer up something useful.

The net result is the supplier isn’t relying on the data from an 852 document, where there are a lot of ways to slice and dice the data and analyze it -- and then bringing that to a buyer and just creating confusion.

Traditionally, the systems the big guys bought to support this collaborative approach were expensive. A new trend that has emerged is the Software as a Service (SaaS) or cloud model, which reduces cost, risk and deployment time for both the retailer and the supplier. This type of approach can get both sides collaborating in a matter of days or weeks, and may not require much in the way of an upfront investment, if any, and only small monthly fees.

At the end of the day, a shared view program eliminates confusion between the supplier and the buyer about the source of data: where it came from and what it means. It also reduces the need for the supplier to spend a lot of time reformatting or changing the data into the right format. The supplier becomes a useful business partner and the retailer gains the ability to learn how to drive more sales or reduce inventory, especially if the supplier can show them how to accomplish this without needing to do more work or spend more money.

Sounds like a win-win for both parties…and the start of a beautiful new relationship.
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