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Surefront Blog

The Formula for Increasing Retailers’ Speed to Market

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.

Speed to market is important for retailers. If you want to rustle up excitement about your products, improve customer satisfaction, and drive repeat sales, then you have a need for speed. But you need to take a few simple steps before you can accelerate your production process. This three part blog, "The Formula for Increasing Retailers’ Speed to Market," outlines a few action steps retail teams can take to create a faster speed to market.

Part 1: Buy fast.

Have you had your coffee yet? Ok good, because it is time for a little math. As your professor today, we want to ask the following question: If management of the product lifecycle is a science, and the end goal is being fastest to market, then what is the formula for speed?

The answer? s = d / t. [speed = distance divided by time].

In other words, the less time (t) you spend in the chaos of keeping track of internal teams, vendors, products, quotes, orders, external communications, data, and workflows, the more your speed to market increases (s) and the farther your business can go into the marketplace (d).

Simple, right? Unfortunately, it isn’t - chaos prevails. The number of things that can go wrong as you are presented with product showcases from various vendors, request quotes from them, negotiate on and then convert quotes to orders, and eventually launch and list your products on various online marketplaces, is infinite. 

That said, if you streamline your product lifecycle management, product information management, and customer relationship management processes correctly, your company can increase its speed to market by 75%. And it all starts with the buyer.

Better “Buyer” Power

As someone in the retail world, you know this: If you sell $1M in product, you now have $1M to buy more products to then go out and sell. 

Buy, sell. Buy, sell. That is the cycle. In order to get to market faster, buyers need to be “open to buy,” which means that they need to sell inventory before they can order more. The more you can buy, the more you can sell, the more money you make – and the faster that happens, the better. 

Speaking of fast, trends come and go quickly. The faster companies can act on the preference of their customers – the current trends – the sooner they can surprise and delight them with products that they will love and, therefore, buy. Being late on the trend means you are more likely to end up with un-purchased inventory which is now out of style or out of date, and will need to either be marked down or disposed of at a complete loss. 

With the right unified product collaboration platform, retail buyers can solve this issue by reducing the buying cycle from months to weeks. The time saved allows buyers to spend their days more wisely. Instead of digging through spreadsheets, correcting incorrect POs, and wasting hours on other similar administrative tasks, they can take their time planning and being more strategic, thus ensuring more accurate forecasts. These forecasts allow buyers to purchase exactly what they need, cutting down on wasted inventory. This all means that buyers can wait to place orders until they can closely estimate what they’ll need on hand and, even though those orders (POs) are placed closer to ship dates, suppliers can fulfill those orders in time. The right unified product collaboration platform give you the power to make this dream a reality. 

Part 2: Distribute fast.

The NRF reports that, pre-pandemic, less than 10% of all retail transactions took place online. Post-pandemic, that number has grown. 15% of all retail transactions are now generated online, and the acceleration towards digital purchase is not slowing down any time soon. As retailers plan their customer experience, whether brick and mortar or online, they need to adjust to the expectations of customers in this changing world. What does that mean? Speed. Having available to customers the products and information they need, right when they decide they need them.

According to a research survey conducted by Bain & Company (led by Frederick F. Reicheld, inventor of the NPS concept), 80% of retailers claim they provide a high quality customer experience, but only 8% of customers agree with them. That’s quite the divide, and we sympathize with the plight of the retailer. After all, your customers place a lot of demands on you.

They expect you to not only have products available for them to purchase, but also to know every minute detail about the products you sell to them (before they make a purchase). And that makes sense. In their eyes, you are “it.” They don’t know how the retail sourcing and buying process works, and that you rely on your supplier partners for those product details and data – and that they in turn rely on their manufacturers and factories for that product information. So if you don’t have the product data demanded by your customers and have no way of getting it from your suppliers in a timely manner, then how can you possibly go about providing the high quality, highly satisfactory experience that your customer needs and expects in order to purchase from you? 

This issue is amplified when we talk about new or seasonal products rather than replenishment products. When it comes to replenishment products, yes, you of course still want product data quickly and orders to be generated quickly. But with new or seasonal products, when you need to get to market as fast as possible and/or you only have a small window of time to sell a particular product, this is absolutely vital. It’s the difference between making money and losing money. And the difference between a great customer experience and a poor one. 

So how can you guarantee a better customer experience through faster product distribution? You can’t… unless you put a modernized, data enhancing platform into place that can facilitate data transfer back and forth between your entire team – both internal and external. A platform that is not simply meant to assist at the point of sale or to facilitate field team communications, but that enables you to get customers the products they want when they want them, along with all the necessary product data and details. We call that the product collaboration process, and it includes everything from product ideation to order placement, from customer relationship management to listing products.

The Software Solution for Speed

To get to market fast, you must first eliminate the convoluted product lifecycle management process that is the status quo - the Excel spreadsheets, PDFs, emails, and other outdated tools you’ve been using to collaborate with your vendors in order to source and order products

Better yet, implement the right retail management software with built-in tools that allow you and your team to more efficiently manage the three basics: people (suppliers, vendors, internal teams), places (retail locations), and things (products). Every team works more efficiently when everyone is involved, finalizing new product details, placing orders faster, and getting those products on the shelves –– be they physical or virtual –– in record time. The sheer speed delights customers and is your first step in creating a wonderful end user experience, which helps you become a loved brand.

A great retail experience considers everything from strategic sourcing to getting products listed, and everything in between. Your company needs an easy way to quickly see and sort through high quality, high fidelity product catalogs of various vendors and brands; engage and collaborate with internal and external partners; and drive the product development, merchandising,  quote to order, and listing process all at the same time.

Streamlining the intake process means greater output when you need it most, and the end result is that your business can get through the chaos and distribute products faster. With speed comes better ROI, which leads to more profit on your company’s balance sheet.

Learn how Surefront can help you increase your speed to market:

Part 3: React fast.

Retailers need to be more agile than ever to remain successful. No matter the size of your company, you need to be able to quickly communicate with vendors along every phase of the product lifecycle to get products to market faster and remain competitive. The right unified product collaboration platform gives you the tools to help you collaborate better with your vendor/brand partners, so you can leverage those relationships, speed up the product lifecycle, and increase your revenue by as much as 150%. 

Better data = better profits

Data can be overwhelming and – let’s face it – you have lots of it. Getting all of your vendors’ product data into a single system to sort, evaluate, request quotes from, and place orders allows you to react faster. That’s where the right PLM solution comes into play. A good software solution will allow you to do all of this while simultaneously collaborating and communicating with internal and external teams. It does not matter whether you are a specialty retailer with individualized needs, or a regional/national retailer with tons of vendors to keep track of… you can reduce the time your team wastes juggling spreadsheets and emails. 

A solid PLM and PIM solution can help your business keep up with the breakneck pace of the retail industry. Ideally, your product lifecycle management software development teams will be familiar with the chaos that comes during the retail and product lifecycle management process. There’s nothing more exciting than a retail team that’s eager to make a change! 

The features of your PLM and PIM platform will increase your speed to market by modernizing outdated tools for product lifecycle management and product design, such as order sheets, spreadsheets, emails, chat windows, documents… and the list goes on. Choosing a solution provider with experience in the trenches will advance the way your retail business, teams, vendors, suppliers, and brands can collaborate and communicate with data. 

Let’s talk results

How much time can you save? One company used to spend two weeks a season organizing collections and line sheets. Since implementing the right PLM software solution, it takes them 30 minutes. We’re talking happier employees, larger orders, and more dynamic inventory.  The right product lifecycle management tools will enable scalable, high touch, customer-centric retail experiences that create trust. 

As you begin your search for the right product lifecycle management software, keep in mind that Surefront offer PLM, CRM, and PIM functionalities. Surefront was designed by some of the best computer engineering minds from CalTech, MIT, and other top scientific institutions – people who have lived and breathed retail for decades. 

Don’t take our word for it. Our clients regularly tell us, “We don't want our competitors to have you, as you are our best kept secret!" Surefront customers know they’ve found their secret weapon. Are you ready to fuel your company’s growth in 2023?

You don’t want your data to be siloed. 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.