Improve Decision Making by Integrating Suppliers Onto an Intelligent Network

Integrating suppliers

 The existing level of retail collaboration with suppliers lacks processes for co-strategic development and a focus on enhancing shopper experience. Intelligent decision-making and support are necessary for a strong merchandising ecosystem which drives and balances the retail business. The key for a retailer is to keep every supplier stably integrated into a single system where every effort is focused on boosting retail growth and shopper loyalty. The solution lies in viewing the problems carefully and in an unbiased way. This can lead to removing frictions between retailers and suppliers like: ‘I’m the market mover’ ego, ‘I know better’ tag, blame games, big player tag, and so on. So the resolution to go for sustained growth rather than short-term gains has to start with:

Building a Decisive Platform

When you aspire to bring everyone on a mutually beneficial platform, ensure that the processes and efforts are meaningful and profitable to every participant. The approach, however, has to be a collaborative effort as suppliers’ processes, methodologies, functional aspects, analytics, inventory management, strategies, etc., have to be considered so that they stick onto the integrated platform.

Pace of Execution

What may be a real definer is the pace of planning and execution which the integrated supplier platform can bring; by removing all the paper-based, internal and naive processes which currently do the job at a slower pace. Speed does add a whole new vigour to on-shelf availability, real-time inventory, enhanced shopper experience, category filling, new product launches, faster action on shopper feedback, and faster procure-to-pay cycles.

Should Not Weigh You Down

Ensure that the elaborateness and the integration should not weigh you down. It should improve information and merchandise movement to conclude at never before achieved levels of on-shelf availability and shopper experience. So, maintaining process compatibility, resulting in intelligent and quick analysis of varying purchasing patterns, merchandising, promotions, etc., should be checked at the earliest and worked upon collectively with the suppliers. Any frictional components slowing or defeating the collaborative effort should be rectified quickly.

Ensure Quality Usage

How can you ensure that all the suppliers are using integrated processes effectively and sincerely? This might call for educational sessions for all the parties involved during the adoption phase. A need for greater cohesiveness should be exercised for at least minimal gestation periods, for the results to surface. Once the benefits resulting from effective collaboration become visible, decision-making will become more informed and less time-consuming. Reliance on business intelligence and analytics tools will grow and improve the certainty quotient of demand forecasting. The trap here may be to route back to old decision-making practices based on un-comprehensive information and intuition which might have worked in the past. This is where key decision makers across the supply chain should fully understand and experience the quality of results based on assistive decision-making.

Engage Tools and Technology

The more collaborative you become the more technology should be leveraged to garner granular and macro level benefits. This may need integrating supplier processes, engaging analytics software, maintaining cloud-based centralized databases, real-time information exchange, macro-level performance dashboards, software for predictive analytics, co-strategic marketing initiatives and most importantly, a technology that enables heightened speed of planning and execution. A recent study on data sharing between retailers and suppliers conducted by CGT and RIS found that 71% of data sharing leaders operate a web-based portal for faster and effective information exchange.

Build Common Goals

Another key benefit of collaboration is to move away from the customary setting of individual business goals. Retailers and suppliers need a broader approach of goal setting which is collective, mutually beneficial and looks at industry and the shoppers at large.

End Note

The benefits are quite visible and spring upon the fundamental premise of supplier integration and collaboration. The power of information exchange can bring all your suppliers onto an integrated network. Together, retailers and suppliers can build a high performance, intelligent and agile supplier network to ensure that measurable benefits lead to sustainable growth. Join the Retail Collaboration Network on LinkedIn, and connect with experts and users interested in Supplier Collaboration.    

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