Future Proofing Your Supply Chain - Business Relationship Benchmarking

Six Degrees recently hosted an event as part of our Thought Leadership Series, inviting top Supply Chain Directors from leading consumer businesses to join us for a round table discussion focusing on best practice in supply chain from the retailer’s perspective.

This exclusive event saw Supply Chain professionals come together from the likes of Harvey Norman, Kimberly-Clarke, Metcash and PepsiCo. Partnering with the Advantage group, Six Degrees Supply Chain Director, Alastair Pennie posed the question:

Collaboration and strong business relationships drive commercial success, how can supply chain deliver best practice in this area?

During his time with Advantage Group, Rick Wilson has been pioneering the concept of business relationship benchmarking; helping suppliers and retailers build successful business relationships.

“25% of the challenge suppliers have when understanding retailers and their needs is the lack of expertise and dialogue”.

We invited people to ask themselves – should you as a supplier be thinking like a supplier or a retailer, or should you find a common agenda and create an alliance?

From his experience, personal and professional, Rick has found that best in class suppliers are passionate about improving their performance and are tied to the retailer’s end customer requirements.

“Suppliers need to change their mindset to change retailers’ perception. Retailers want cross-functional work not account management, this includes having supply chain involved in business meetings”.

Getting the communication and service to retailers right is essential to building successful partnerships. Best in class suppliers are good across the board and working with the them on all supply issues are seamless.

What can you as a supplier focus on?

  1. Metrics – understanding the hard numbers and delivering on them.
  2. Skill set – look to bring in expertise into supply chain and have them focus their dialogue when communicating with retailers.
  3. Relationships – how do you as a supplier manage your supply chain compared to what is communicated to the retailer.
  4. Communication – the line of sight retailer is given on the suppliers’ availability.

Retailer’s top 5 priorities:

  1. Delivers orders at the date and time specified.
  2. Delivers complete orders/ a high % fill rate.
  3. Delivers accurate orders.
  4. Works well with us and is easy to do business with.
  5. Proactively works with retailers on forecasting to prevent out of stocks.

Following the presentation, our guests were invited to ask questions and continue the conversation. There was passionate debate about the current retail landscape, and how you can future proof your supply chain for success.

Key learnings:

  1. Ensure a high level of forecast accuracy.
  2. Be consistent and use multiple sources to ensure the order is correct.
  3. Be proactive in your supply chain planning.
  4. Build and maintain a strong alignment within your team.
  5. Don’t under estimate the value of Vendor Replenishment Planners, they are the bridge between supply chain, sales and the retailer.

The formation and improvement of your “supplier” thinking can help you balance all other organisational capabilities. The key to improving your supplier thinking lies with understanding your business and understanding the retailer’s strategy (across corporate and category) and how your business can address joint needs. Once you understand this, and are aware of their skillset and relationship needs, you can begin to understand how you deploy the capability and who owns it in your business. Through the use of common language and data, you can align your views with theirs and ensure supply planning success.

To find out more about best practice supply chain and how you can implement it in your business, get in touch with Holly Clark on (02) 8024 7139.