Suppliers and retailers have different business models and that can lead to some miscommunication, which can cause problems with both operations. An article for Supply Management described how both entities can fix that problem with a couple of simple steps and keep everything running smoothly and efficiently.
Fostering good partnership relations
Inventory control is a vital aspect of any business, and supply chain partners need to be upfront and open about what is being packaged and shipped between supplier and retailer. The Supply Management article suggested that regular meetings at the operations level can eliminate questions and proactively address any issues before they cause problems in the supply chain. Both retailer and supplier, said the report, need to understand each other's business strategy and the supplier can actually have an employee embedded in the retailer's operation to become familiar with what the company needs to operate and how much stock is on-hand at any given time.
Staying atop the supply chain
But it's not just the suppliers that have a duty to work with and understand the retailer. Retail businesses also have to pay attention to and audit the supply chain relationship to make certain they are receiving the value they expect. Suppliers need to be ahead of the curve when it comes to demand so they must be clear on the retailer's customer preferences and needs, said Supply Management.
The supplier also needs to be able to demonstrate that they can handle breakdowns in the supply chain so that the retailer doesn't suffer, including providing access to alternate vendors, if need be.
Supply chain centralization
One thing both retailers and suppliers must be proficient at is reacting to market demands. An article in The Guardian said businesses need to have a view of the supply chain from top-to-bottom. Knowing what the supplier has on hand and also where completed products are in the shipping process is vital to the success of both operations. Command centers and control towers, said The Guardian, enables control and visibility. Software solutions can help staff make rapid adjustments should they become necessary.
The best way for suppliers and retailers to co-exist is to share successes, said the Supply Management report. Making continuous improvements to both infrastructures is also in the best interest of keeping the supply chain intact, updated and fully operational. Suppliers must therefore be actively helping retailers in meeting the demands of the, "I want it and I want right now," mindset without wavering. This can make for a better guaranteed availability scenario for everyone including the consumer.