Supplier Engagement for first timers

The retail industry contains a lot of jargon and so many frameworks. With so much to think about all the time, things can get lost in translation or quite simply misunderstood.

As a newbie to S4RB, my lack of jargon knowledge was clear from the start. In my first week working here I was told there was a scrum happening… Now a ‘scrum’ to me, a huge rugby fanatic, is definitely not a stand up meeting. I had visions of eight guys pushing against the weirdest looking scrum machine - a computer desk!

Explaining my job title as a “Supplier Engagement Consultant” has also been trying -  particularly to people that have never heard of the term before. So what does Supplier Engagement really mean? If this is a question you find yourself asking then you are in the right place to learn.


It was initially really difficult for me to explain to someone what Supplier Engagement means. My first response to being asked the question was that it is quite simply, engaging with suppliers.

S4RB describes Supplier Engagement as the following:

Supplier engagement is all about loyalty. It’s the level of commitment a supplier has to your products, brand, values and goals. It affects every interaction with your suppliers. The higher their level of engagement, the more efficient and cost effective you can be.

I would summarise that communication and learning tools are used to bridge the gap between a retailer and their suppliers. In terms of communication it allows an honest and open conversation to be had between the two parties to solve problems and ultimately strengthen the brand.

Simply put, if every person involved in making and selling a product were to share 'One View' of information about that product and work together as 'One Team' to meet the same goals, that would be the ideal.

Watch our Supplier Engagement explainer video below


To help bring Supplier Engagement to life, S4RB use the term ‘One Team’:

Suppliers collaborating with the private brand team, speeding up processes to meet deadlines with increased accuracy, contributing to innovation and becoming brand ambassadors.

I believe that One Team is about using our Supplier Engagement techniques to make sure that everyone who is involved in producing a product thinks in the same way and believes in the same things.

We do not want suppliers to just know about a brand’s beliefs, values and goals.

Working as One Team means that the suppliers ACTUALLY share these same beliefs, values and goals. The supplier BECOMES part of the private brand team at the retailer.

If you would like to learn a little bit more about our One Team concept, our MD explains it in more detail in a this blog.



  • It builds strong working relationships with suppliers.
  • Engaged suppliers are more invested in the brand, working more effectively to complete tasks.
  • It reduces the retailer’s workload.
  • This all improves the customer’s experience with the brand.
  • It saves the private brand team’s resources and in turn, money.

Don’t just take my word for it. Why not read Waitrose’s story.


  • There will be an easily accessible and open communication line for suppliers should they need something from the private brand team.
  • Through increased understanding, suppliers will be more committed to the brand.
  • Suppliers will have an increased knowledge and will therefore better understand brand goals.


Ultimately, Supplier Engagement makes it easier to achieve goals on time, so it is win-win.

Recently I have been working with a large private brand to collect the REACH registration status of their products.

This has been a challenging task as supplier contact details are not up-to-date.  The analytics within supplierENGAGE™ allow me to know what communications are delivered and who has read what, so I can target the follow-up. It's important to note that suppliers are not expecting any communications from the retailer about REACH.

Using Supplier Engagement tactics to start an open line of communication with them all has been highly successful. Teaching the suppliers about the importance of REACH along the way has allowed them to understand the process and ask questions where necessary.

By updating all supplier contacts, they can easily be reached and this has allowed the private brand to compile an accurate supplier database. Any further communications with their suppliers will now be an absolute breeze, or at least we hope so. In turn, we can build relationships, which means that suppliers can become more invested in the brand.

If there is anymore “jargon” around this concept that we use that you might be questioning, please go here to learn more about Supplier Engagement and working as One Team. Stay tuned for my next blog which will explain more retail/supplier terminology with my newbie eyes. I look forward to seeing you all there.

Tags: Supplier engagement

Team S4RB

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