I have worked on many projects over multiple decades with Retailers all over the world, and as you will see from the lack of hair on my head I have seen more than my share of uphill struggles to collect data from their supply chain partners.
Back to Basics
Let me start by explaining the top common mistakes that I have made in the past and continue to see made by many with less experience:
- We forget that many Suppliers, like us, arrive at work with an impossible to do list and an inbox that will probably have grown by the end of the day.
- We believe that our priority projects are the entire supply chain’s number one priority.
- We think that the business issues and/or software solutions our team have been intimately involved with are “easy to grasp/use” for someone new within a couple of hours.
For some reason, when it comes to business to business applications we assume that everyone is cut from the same cloth - reacts to the same messages, learns at the same pace, has the same technical skills.
But the truth is that the supplier world is full of people just like you or me - your creative sister, your technical wizard brother or your sweet auntie.
With this in mind, the equation we should be working with is…
How difficult is it to provide the requested data? vs. What is the incentive and priority for my suppliers?
Ideally: In an ideal world, the contact who is the end provider of data should gain significant benefit from returning the data, with very little effort required to provide it.
But unfortunately: Classically, the end provider of your data is expected to play by your rules and spend considerable time, effort and money in providing information that appears to have very little benefit for them or their supplier organization.
Balancing the equation
There is a number of essential elements that you can use to help make this equation work for you, and that I constantly apply for clients in order to ensure greater levels of success. In my series of blogs on this subject, I am going to let you in on 5 top tips for successful data collection that I have developed, and that I’m constantly preaching about.
Let’s get started with the first:
Tip 1: Contact the Correct Person
The base building block for all data collection campaigns within your Supply Chain is your set of contact information. Challenges are always to be expected, , but these are multiplied by not getting your request for data to the right contact first time. Each forward that the request needs from the first contact to the right contact delays your project. Once your request finally does make it to the right person, motivation rises and the perceived complexity of the task reduces – because they are more likely to understand it.
We typically see this: The majority of data collection activities will commence with Retailers or Brand Owners reaching out to a single, “main” company contact (as opposed to the relevant contact within that company). This has been shown to reduce the chances of first reach success by around about 30%. In my experience, the accuracy of many central contact databases held by Retailers and Brand Owners is pretty unreliable, with on average 12% out of date details.
Where the ideal is: What you need is an accurate, up to date and well segmented database of contacts that includes information about role type and supplier category. Wherever possible, applying additional filters will allow you to target your requests accurately. For example, a survey on Palm Oil usage in ingredients could be directed specifically at quality teams in your food suppliers.
In my next blog, I move on to the second tip to help you increase the efficiency, effectiveness and speed of your Supply Chain Data Collection Campaigns.