All retailers are under pressure to cut costs and remain competitive and Whole Foods are one of the the latest to announce cuts with the loss of 1,500 jobs. Co-CEO Walter Robb said in a statement: "We believe this is an important step to evolve Whole Foods Market in a rapidly changing marketplace.” Regarding remaining competitive, the company also said that the job cuts will let it focus more on upgrading technology.
As retailers are increasingly looking to their own-label products as an area to deliver increased quality and consistency, the technology to achieve this will only become more important. One such method of delivering quality and competitive private label products is by better engaging with suppliers. S4RB’s Affinity™ software is a tool which can help private brand retailers to achieve this.
Quality supplier engagement can empower suppliers to increase their contribution to product quality and to product innovation – allowing retailers to effectively crowdsource solutions to many challenges via their large pool of private brand suppliers and to work together as ‘one team’ in order to compete with national brands. Affinity enables this ‘one team’ culture with practical functions such as visual management dashboards and a supplier self-help online portal. Engaged and informed suppliers prioritize requests from the retailer and complete them with accuracy, reducing the workload at the retailer’s end. This allows product managers, technical managers and product developers to spend their time on more value-add activities such as product innovation.
The Affinity software integrates with other retailer systems to provide a knowledge-base where suppliers can access information such as policies and processes and ask questions on demand, 24 hours a day. This empowers suppliers to be more autonomous and efficient while also ensuring a “one truth” approach to information which in turn assists quality, consistency and compliance. Furthermore, the retailer saves money by saving time – typically over $150,000 per year – from not having to answer the same questions over and over, allowing limited resource to be maximized.
Supplier self-help is just one example of how technology can help retailers and brand owners. The Affinity portal also uses powerful communication tools and KPI visual management to help drive focus and improvements around chosen initiatives, whether these relate to product, quality, diversity or sustainability.