Supplier data collection: expectation vs. reality


Collecting data from suppliers, easy right? All you’re asking them is to do is complete a form or survey and send it back. 

But do these expectations match the reality when it comes to suppliers actually completing the actions that you’ve set them?


Reality: Can you really get all your suppliers to respond?

With the right communications, I believe so, yes! With the right supplier engagement strategy and supporting tactics, you could benefit from all your suppliers providing all the requested data, accurately and on time.

A lot of the data collections I have worked on needed to be “done yesterday”, and that’s just life in retail sometimes! However, that doesn’t mean you have to press “GO!” straight away.

There is always time to plan out the journey. You may have heard the following quote from Benjamin Franklin, which I think is fitting in this instance: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

Success depends on taking the time to plan your data collection campaign. The journey that suppliers must go on to provide the data you need should be relevant, instructive, straight forward, and easy to follow. These simple tactics will get you the result that you need from the vast majority of the suppliers.

It's also important to remember: your suppliers are people too. We only do things we want to do or where there is a clear consequence if we don’t do it and we prioritise accordingly.

So what’s in it for suppliers? How do you motivate them to complete your data collection campaign?

My colleague David Taylor posted a couple of brilliant blogs on Supplier Assault Course, which I think is the key to any data collection. In his Supplier Assault Course and Supplier Assault Course in Real Life blogs, he talks about taking suppliers on a journey that ends in Supplier Engagement and, more importantly, with the data you requested.

Whether you are asking for some information on palm oil and soy, recycled materials or, merely wanting to confirm the correct roles and details for any own brand product queries, the success of these requests are built on successful Supplier Engagement. Read how we helped one retailer achieve 99% response rate from suppliers on a palm oil campaign.

Supplier Engagement is a destination that gets you the data you need and sets you up for more success in the future. That success could mean the completion of additional data collections, for example, proactive visits to available reports and dashboards (such as complaints, spec accuracy or testing compliance) or just keeping contact details up to date in the system without having to prompt anyone, wouldn’t that be fantastic?!

I’ll leave you with one of David’s quotes that sums it all up pretty nicely in my opinion:

Empathising with your suppliers by anticipating their experience of the tasks you set them is an important part of strengthening the working relationship you have with them. The more they feel understood and valued by you, the more engaged they will become.” David Taylor – S4RB

Merle Laur

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