Collaboration between retailers, suppliers and third-party service providers is key to all players thriving in an ever-evolving market.
Since early 2020, while the word ‘disruption’ has been used ad nauseam to describe the impact of Covid-19 across most facets of everyday life, the term has been particularly apt in describing the effect of the pandemic on the supermarket sector, says Strikeforce Category & Insights Manager Stephen Wilson.
“No one will ever forget the empty shelves, panic buying and the enormity of maintaining supply of basic yet essential grocery items that was endured,” he says.
“As we move towards 2023 and beyond, it’s imperative that every player involved in the supermarket value chain, from primary producers through to merchandisers, play their part to ensure that brands are on-shelf and readily available for purchase.”
Central to a prosperous future for the supermarket sector is alignment between retailers and suppliers underpinned by a meaningful, actionable and collaborative approach.
Adyen Country Manager ANZ Hayley Fisher says strong retailer-supplier relationships have always been part of the sector’s foundation of supply chain management. However, the pandemic brought a dramatic shift in control from retailers to consumers.
“Consumer preferences changed, and they started to expect the same high-quality experience across all channels,” she says. “As a result, suppliers and retailers have needed to better collaborate and share information to exceed customer expectations.
“This reimagined shopping experience now requires suppliers and retailers to integrate their channels into single platforms, like unified commerce, and use technology to connect with one another in real time. With unified commerce, the retail industry can better forecast, reduce costs, streamline inventory, and fulfil orders faster,” says Ms Fisher.
Salesforce Area Vice President, Retail and Consumer Goods Jo Gaines says the past two years have highlighted retail supply chains and reinforced the importance of fostering stronger collaboration with suppliers to meet customer expectations for fast, frictionless and connected experiences.
“To achieve this requires having systems in place that create a single view of your external relationships, including suppliers, where collaboration and communication is key,” she says. “It’s also about empowering your suppliers with the right tools to work with you at their best.”
If retailers and suppliers don’t collaborate with one another, it can impact the customer experience. For example, without collaboration, retailers can’t receive insights and communicate stock shortages or shipping delays to their customers.
“This leaves shoppers with unfulfilled orders, who may then switch to another brand,” Ms Gaines says. “In fact, our research found 40 per cent of [surveyed] shoppers say it only takes two bad experiences for them to abandon a brand.”
Covid-disrupted shopping behaviour has reiterated the importance of collaboration. Households in some cases are shopping less frequently in-store or have adopted click and collect and on-line ordering and delivery to their doorstep as their preferred method of grocery shopping.
“Suppliers have less opportunity to engage with shoppers in-store, increasing the importance of ensuring availability both on-shelf at the fixture but also at off-located promotional displays on the shopper’s journey around the store,” Mr Wilson says.
“This is where specialist third parties, like Strikeforce, become integral to supporting both suppliers and retailers in their quest to secure a fair share of sales and maintain and grow brand equity.
“Collaboration between all parties is highly desirable to deliver well planned and thought-out strategies, and optimise sales and margin capture, while at the same time delivering on shopper expectations,” Mr Wilson says.
Read more about Sales & Marketing in the May issue of Retail World.