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 solution that helped with relationship management. That’s because retailers and suppliers were viewing the same product on different platforms, then communicating about them to one another through emails and Excel docs.
Suppliers had to choose between giving their retail clients full access to their organization’s data, 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 half 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 PLM 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. Take charge of your retailer/supplier relationships with Surefront’s retail PLM solution. Your ability to communicate product data is your competitive advantage. Surefront PLM puts your data to work for you.
Product lifecycle management is a quickly evolving industry with a lot of moving parts. We do all of the research, so you don’t have to. Stay ahead of news & trends by subscribing to our Product Lifecycle Management Blog.
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