Today’s savvy shoppers may not be willing to expend extra effort to enjoy their favorite brands. Instead, they’re much more likely to select a different brand or a new product altogether. Massive online retailers such as Amazon.com are deepening their ability to leverage their private label brands to cut out the middleman – something that could have major effects on American retailers. Omnichannel brands, including Target and Walmart, are already working hard to improve their supply chain planning and execution.
According to the State of the Retail Supply Chain 2018 Report, e-commerce now represents 49% of all retail growth and 13% of sales in 2017. Retailers no longer have the option of considering e-commerce a nice-to-have, it has become a critical part of the way shoppers want to make their purchases on a regular basis. The unprecedented omnichannel nature of shopping is driving suppliers and retailers to become more creative and dedicated to finding avenues for collaboration.
What Today’s Shoppers Expect
Shoppers today will not accept inconsistencies in mobile app inventory vs. in-store availability. Neither are they happy about shipping or billing issues from their favorite retailer. Instead, they expect near-perfection, with a cohesive experience across mobile apps, online ordering and in-store experience. The perceived gap between in-store pick-up and home delivery continues to narrow, as delivery options roll out to areas across the country. Returns are expected to be seamless and easy via any channel. With these heavy expectations in mind, see how the four tips below can help suppliers and retailers work together to form a holistic shopper experience strategy.
1. Build Your Business Plans Together
Joint business plans provide you with the shared responsibility and focus that comes from understanding your partner’s KPIs (key performance indicators). If one partner is interested in driving shopper engagement in a new brand while the other is more engaged with units sold, there may be a disconnect of strategies that should be resolved before moving your plans forward.
When retailers and suppliers are aligned on their needs, it is much more likely that you’ll be able to stick to a combined roadmap and see success for each business. Measurements that are valuable for sharing could be sales, inventory levels, and overall gross margins, while each partner may have additional KPIs that relate to their portion of the campaign.
2. Set Expectations Around Exclusivity and Confidentiality
Trusted partners have exceptional transparency, sharing strategies and information on a regular basis. Working closely between retailers and suppliers provides a high level of accountability and requires trust – making it critically important to define the structure of your programs thoroughly before embarking on a new project. Confidentiality and exclusivity are two of the areas where partners can misunderstand each other, so it’s important to set up policies that will help mitigate the fear of data sharing and breach of contracts.
3. Share Shopper Insights
When suppliers are able to monitor shopper data such as segmentation, promotional analytics and offer redemption, retailers are able to empower their partners to assist in monitoring demand. Having both organizations focused on the details also provides a failsafe mechanism for inventory replenishment.
4. Share Company Data
Knowledge is power, and your supplier partner is better able to support you when they have a deep understanding of your shoppers. This could include everything from historical data on offer performance and results, sales forecasts, product and promotion plans and more. Sharing this information not only provides necessary points for analysis, but also helps to foster trust and a collaborative atmosphere between the organizations and their leadership.
Retailers Getting Supplier Collaboration Right
There is continuous effort to determine how best to work cohesively. Private label brands such as those sold by Amazon are able to shift pricing and adjust availability levels based on solid metrics since they control the entire supply chain. In order to compete for today’s demanding shoppers, these two parties must learn to closely integrate their data and services more than ever before. Retailers have the know-how to determine the necessary data and translate that into product purchasing. Suppliers need to be able to accurately forecast the demand and have access to the most up-to-date sales trends in order to make the best decisions possible to keep their retail partner actively selling.
Children’s retailer Carter’s tackled the problem by partnering with NGC Software to define how third-party logistics providers were able to integrate their data tightly within a single system. This novel approach provides full visibility into retail inventory while allowing retailers to operate in a way that is more closely aligned with shopper habits. This data integration not only reduced cycle times, but it also allowed for quick decision making in the event that interest levels change.
This small natural foods retailer is seeing the importance of linking up with a supplier who understands their needs and helps overcome distribution challenges. Justin’s leadership is realizing the value of shoring up the holes that can potentially occur within their supply chain by partnering with suppliers who are interested in long-term relationships. The organization’s focus on collaboration extends to all levels, as they support manufacturers and distributors seeking to improve their organic footprint.
When Supplier-Retailer Ties Get Stronger, So Do Results
These are only a few of the many examples of organizations who understand the value in deep collaboration and data integration. There may be more effort upfront to determine shared goals and metrics, data sharing and privacy policies. However, the long-term benefit is the increased transparency and partnership between retailers and suppliers that leads to an improved shopper experience.