Earlier this week, I shared a blog post about my understanding of Supplier Engagement that I wrote as part of my interview at Solution 4 Retails Brands (the Supplier Engagement Experts). A few weeks in to my new job, and I’m “retaking” my assignment because I was missing a massive piece of the puzzle.

Having worked at a Health and Beauty retail giant for 10 years, I already had a pretty good understanding of what Supplier Engagement was in the context of the retail sector.

Or so I thought…

I wrote about how Supplier Engagement is achieved by investing the time to build a connection with your suppliers, and by being transparent about what is important to you, as a retailer. I detailed how this could be brought to life, with simple processes and a 5-step model.

All of the processes and ways of working that I talked about in my blog were based on what I had seen and learnt at my previous job, which I now realise took a very retailer-centric approach. It all revolved around the idea of telling suppliers what to do in a way that was clear and unambiguous.

The Missing Piece

Great Supplier Engagement is about a partnership. Yes, an important part of it is making sure that suppliers understand what is required of them. But it is so important to make sure that you also have shared values and goals. Communicate your passions to your suppliers, give them the knowledge and tools they need to become your own brand product champions, and be open and transparent with them.

Once this kind of partnership is established – once you have built up a good level of Supplier Engagement – all sorts of things become possible. Ultimately it is about products, service and efficiency; enabling you to offer your customers the best possible experience.

Wait … There’s More!

Retailers are already pretty good at listening to their customers, be it via call centres, on social media sites, or in-store. But rarely does all of this feedback get passed on to suppliers; it is often only the major issues that are escalated to suppliers. Why not give your engaged Suppliers visibility of this valuable data so that they can make smart, informed decisions.

As a retailer, you can’t possibly micro-manage every aspect of each one of your thousands of products. Your suppliers, however, know the products they make for you intimately, and are full of great ideas for development and innovation. Armed with the quality data that you already have, they can help you address any product issues that arise, as well as being innovative and harbouring a continuous improvement mindset.

And that’s what you can achieve when you commit to building Supplier Engagement: A Unified Brand eXperience (UBX). A state of affairs where you, your customers and your suppliers are linked together as a single community around the things that matter to you, resulting in a truly great experience for your customers.

Getting Suppliers more involved and more proactive is a logical but largely untapped resource, so far...

Tags: Supplier engagement

Team S4RB

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