We all know that speed to market is important for retailers. That’s a given. But what are the steps to getting to market faster? This three part blog series, The Formula for Increasing Retailers’ Speed to Market, outlines what you need to consider as you work towards a faster speed to market. In part 1, we discussed the importance of buying fast. Now let’s talk about getting products through the strategic sourcing and buying process and onto shelves more quickly.
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 into place modernized, data enhancing software that can facilitate data transfer back and forth between your entire team – both internal and external. Software that is not simply meant to assist at the point of sale or to facilitate field team communications, but software that enables you to get customers the products they want when they want them, along with all the needed product data and details. We call that the product lifecycle process and it includes everything from product ideation to order placement and beyond.
The Software Solution for Speed
To get to market fast, you must first eliminate the convoluted product lifecycle management PLM 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. This sheer speed results in delighting the customer 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 on your shelves 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, and quote to order 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 margins (as much as 2% better), which leads to a higher ROI. Which leads to more profit on your company’s balance sheet.
Learn how Surefront can help you increase your speed to market:
- Manage categories and assortments with speed and efficiency, on one easy-to-use platform.
- Create goals & targets for an upcoming season.
- Streamline your programs.
- Collaborate with your suppliers and design teams.
- Request and receive quotes with full product details and clickable images.
- Communicate with your suppliers and partners directly on the quote.
- Turn quotes into orders with a single click.
- Drive better margins across the buying process.
- Complete orders quickly, source products and negotiate with suppliers without the need for emails, PDFs or image attachments.
- Manage projects and orders with perfect visibility.
- Assign tasks and due dates to keep your team on the same page.
UP NEXT: In Part 3 of The Formula for Increasing Retailers’ Speed to Market blog series, we’ll discuss how you as a retailer can react faster and better, leading to improved margins. Interested?
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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