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Surefront Blog

How PLM Tools Help Supplier/Retailer Relationships

Surefront is a Unified Product Collaboration Platform with PIM, CRM, and PLM solutions. It's a centralized data home where stakeholders can freely share product information and assign access permissions. Most integrations are supported in Surefront, but none are needed. Our articles often focus on one aspect of our unified PIM, PLM, and CRM platform. With Surefront, each solution seamlessly works together to achieve a guaranteed 10x ROI for every customer.

Supplier and retailer relations have changed drastically in the past three years. At the advent of the pandemic, retailers panicked when faced with the prospect of passing along 60% shipping cost increases to their customers. Some even tried to strong arm suppliers into accepting reduced payment for their services. 

And that was just the tip of the iceberg. Even suppliers that retained their core business relationships were faced with unprecedented shipping charges, delays, and hold ups at customs. We often focus on international suppliers when we talk about challenges faced by suppliers in 2022. However, domestic suppliers faced unique challenges of their own. 

The upside of supplier diversification

It was almost impossible to keep warehouses fully operational. Between workers getting sick, calling out to stay home with family members, or leaving their jobs entirely, few suppliers were able to avoid some type of hiccup in their usual operations. The result? More than half (59.8%) of retailers saw domestic supplier delays in the week between 7/12/21 and 7/18/21 alone. Many retailers added additional suppliers to their supplier strategy in an attempt to reduce the impact of supply chain issues on their end consumer. 

Most suppliers were less than stoked about this development, which is also called “supplier diversification.” But there is an upside. Retailers that had established relationships with specific suppliers –– usually untouchable behemoths –– were suddenly willing to consider adding new businesses to their sourcing repertoire. Add this to the growth of micro retailers and artisans during lockdown, and you suddenly have an industry that’s ready for fresh blood. 

Fresh blood which many ambitious suppliers were ready to provide. However, it’s not easy for a small to mid-sized supplier to begin working with an established retailer. Everything from the communication process to providing quotes in the proper format can be a significant hurdle. But that’s where the latest advancements in PLM tools really shine. 

Understand the core insights of each product

The retail industry has gotten into the habit of analyzing retail performance by category. Whether it’s general groupings like “paper goods,” or a more specific focus like “toilet paper,” category-based conversations are all of the rage. While retailers usually search for items within a specific category, the item category itself can’t be your value proposition. Say your value proposition in selling toilet paper is simply that it’s flushable paper made for bathroom use. There are hundreds of other suppliers selling unbleached, recycled toilet paper with a softness level that could make angels cry. 

The main advantage of a retail PLM is the ability to use your product’s data points to your advantage. It does this by enabling you to add and share product data points within seconds, to anyone you choose inside or outside of your team. So nothing anyone needs to know gets lost, ever. It’s all housed in one centralized system. After all, your toilet paper can probably make angels cry, too. Your ability to share those data points effectively can make or break a sale. 

At this point, you’re probably wondering, “what is PLM software used for and how can it help supplier relationships?” Most PLM solutions give retailers visibility into where a product is in its lifecycle. Until recently, however, there wasn’t a unified solution that also helped with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Product Information Management (PIM). Retailers and suppliers were viewing the same product on different platforms, then communicating about them to one another through emails and Excel docs. And don't even get us started on how time consuming it is for most retailers to list products to 100s of e-commerce marketplaces...

Suppliers had to choose between giving their retail clients full access to their organization’s data and risking privacy infringements, or potentially losing clients due to the inability to effectively communicate product data. 

Communication is your competitive advantage 

We talk a lot about how product lifecycle management (PLM) tools assist retailers. While it’s true that the right PLM software can boost retail profits by 150%, that’s only part of the equation. Suppliers are still the driving force of the retail industry. And they haven’t had an easy go of things lately. 

Surefront can give retail suppliers their competitive advantage back. It is the best unified PLM, CRM, and PIM solution for suppliers for a few reasons: our SmartCatalog’s patented in-app collaboration tool with clickable images, the ability to customize and send quotes in seconds, and the fact that suppliers can share the data they want with the retailers they choose –– adding notes right onto the product image, if that suits their fancy.

Our platform enables brands and suppliers to present visual product showcases to various retailers. It easily meets each retailer’s unique formatting requirements. Suppliers can invite buyers to review product specs, ask questions, request quotes and finalize orders, from anywhere. We even allow dig into each retailer’s current & past orders for immediate learnings. Suppliers can review real-time data quickly and seamlessly for better decision making, communication, collaboration, and sales. 

So, don’t wait on the sidelines while retailers diversify their supplier roster, helplessly hoping to be picked. Your company’s CRM, PIM and PLM solutions shouldn’t operate in a vacuum, either. Surefront is a Unified Product Collaboration Platform to power growth and ROI. Our patented PIM, CRM, and PLM solutions streamline the omni channel sales, merchandising and product development processes. By combining these essential functionalities, Surefront creates a single source of truth throughout your product lifecycle, sales and listing processes. 

The results? Up to 150% more revenue per employee and a 40% shorter product development cycle is just the beginning. Try our 10x ROI calculator to see your company’s potential profits. Or, skip the noise and book a custom demo with one of our unified product collaboration management experts today. The retail industry evolves quickly and has a lot of moving parts. We do all of the research, so you don’t have to. Stay ahead of market fluctuations, trends and new features by subscribing to our Unified Product Collaboration Management Blog.