In our previous articles, we’ve discussed what Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is along with Product Information Management (PIM), Category Management, Supplier Management and more. All of these topics relate to retail business operations. These are the behind-the-scenes internal initiatives and B2B interactions that make the retail industry tick.
If merchandisers did not interact with suppliers, store shelves would be left empty and ecommerce sites would have nothing to sell. Ahead of that collaboration comes the need for both suppliers and retailers to work internally with their teams to develop products, manage programs, and other processes on their respective sides of the retail equation.
That’s where Surefront comes in. We believe that great retail starts with great relationships. We enable great retail by deepening these relationships with next generation Product Lifecycle Management (PLM).
These are Surefront’s core beliefs. We want to empower the retail industry by providing teams on both sides of retail with the tools they need to bring better products to market with increased speed and efficiency while building relationships with their internal and external business partners.
Let’s talk about what Surefront is, how it serves the retail industry’s needs, and how our team is committed to advancing the way we collaborate and communicate with data.
What is Surefront?
Surefront is a cloud-based, B2B software platform for suppliers and retailers. In fact, that’s part of where we get our name. Borrowing the first two letters from the words SUppliers + REtailers, we get SURE. And as we are at the foreFRONT of collaboration software in the industry, it all comes together to be Surefront.
We align most closely with what you may know as Product Lifecycle Management software or PLM, but we go well beyond the traditional solutions you may have encountered. Surefront represents the next generation of PLM software, or PLM+ as we like to call it. We’ll get into the “how” and “why” of it all, but first, let’s clearly define what Surefront does and how it serves our community of supplier and retail partners. Here’s a shortlist of what you need to know.
- Facilitates B2B retail processes for suppliers and retailers
- Streamlines product development for brands
- Empowers merchandising teams to buy better products at better prices
- Fosters supplier/retailer relationships with in-platform chat communication
- Houses comprehensive product data and visuals in a single source of truth
This isn’t an exhaustive and detailed list, but we often receive questions about what Surefront does. With such a robust suite of tools built into the platform, it’s often easy for us to get caught up in the minutia of each individual feature. The overarching idea is that we are moving into a new frontier of collaboration and retail relationships.
Data Deserves a Better Home
So many forms of data need to pass through internal and external collaborators in the B2B retail process, but the retail industry is by-and-large still leaning on outdated forms of communication like email with PDF and spreadsheet attachments. How can we take complex and deep forms of product data like Bill of Materials (BOM), tech packs, line sheets, etc. and expect them to live in email? This creates a mess of data silos where critical information can be left at risk of being forgotten about or, even worse, lost.
Surefront serves as a centralized repository for all product data. It doesn’t matter if your brand has 100 SKUs or 10,000 SKUs, Surefront’s bulk uploading and catalog management features make it easy to store, organize, and stage products to showcase to your retail partners.
A New Way to Buy and Sell
On the brand side (supplier side) of things, Surefront allows you to create showcases, with all product images and specifications included in an appealing visual layout. From there, you can share those showcases with your retail partners whether they are Surefront users or not. For those who haven’t adopted Surefront, you can send them an invitation, which they’ll receive via email to come right into your showcase in the Surefront platform.
This is where communication becomes the most sophisticated of any collaboration tool on the market. Suppliers and retailers can use the in-platform chat function to discuss products and terms for completing the deal.
Retailers can ask about colorways, variations, and more, right there with the product in front of them. Suppliers can answer those questions and help settle the terms of the sale. This saves dozens of email exchanges, which may or may not get lost in the shuffle. The chat function gives a more live experience to the B2B communication process.
The most important note of all here is that communication in Surefront is what we call “object-oriented.” That means each chat is tied to it’s given product detail page. That means no confusion or mix ups in referencing items in an email. With Surefront, communication is always clearly attached to the item at hand.
Closing the Deal
Surefront goes beyond just connecting suppliers and retailers in communication, it also allows you to finish the deal. Retailers can request quotes for selected items, and suppliers can create those quotes all within the platform.
This brings both sides of the transaction the flexibility to have a streamlined, transparent buying and selling process with no data or communications lost in the shuffle.
We get a lot of questions about privacy in this process. We’ve had suppliers worry about inviting external partners into their platform where all of their sensitive financial data lives - like product costs, etc. But those worries quickly dissolve as we explain that Surefront is carefully designed to be flexible enough to easily share product data with your partners, but secure enough to ensure that you only share what you desire. That means any sensitive financial information will be available to your team and will not appear for your retail partners when you invite them into a showcase or quotation.
Develop Better Products with Surefront
Outside of facilitating better B2B relationships and transactions between suppliers and retailers, Surefront provides a whole host of benefits for brands engaging in product development.
Development teams can upload their tech packs and collaborate on products directly in Surefront with the same efficiency and ease of communication using the in-platform chat. Our upcoming Bill of Materials feature will allow for full accountability for all materials and components within each product, providing additional layers of granularity for product development.
Most importantly, internal teams can take advantage of Surefront’s Workflow tool, that brings transparency and accountability to each step in the process. This is a visual flow chart that allows you to add team members and stakeholders to tasks in the development and sales process, helping you keep your team running like a well-oiled machine.
Want to hear more about each feature or see how they work live in action? Schedule a quick, free demo with our product team and experience how Surefront can help your organization push to the forefront of product development, sales, and B2B collaboration.
If you want to learn more about PLM and the benefits it can bring your company, please check out a quick recorded demo of Surefront in action.
Surefront PLM users are experiencing 10x ROI for their organizations with individual contributors saving an average of 20% of their time that would have been spent on data entry, or re-entry, without the efficiency of the platform. This is giving product development and merchandising teams an entire extra day of work per week to focus on other initiatives, driving further growth and profitability.
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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