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Retail Value Chain 101: What Golf Can Teach You About Supplier Relationship Management

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 12, 2018
Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2018


The best golfers in the world, regardless of how well they're playing, are constantly revisiting and evaluating the basics. We're not talking about keeping drives in the middle of the fairway. We're not even talking about swinging the club. We're talking about the very basics – grip, posture and alignment.

Are my hands positioned properly? Is my grip too tight? Is my body properly angled? Are my knees slightly bent? Are my feet, knees, shoulders and eyes parallel? You may have the sweetest swing on the course, but if your grip, posture and alignment start to falter, the results will be less than desirable.

Retailers should approach supplier relationship management the same way. Mastering the fundamentals is critical. Even if you have first-rate store operations, products and personnel, you have to do the basics to ensure merchandise flows smoothly from the supplier to the distribution center to the store to the customer. Otherwise, the bottom line will suffer.

The RVCF Spring Conference, being held May 6-9, 2018 in Clearwater Beach, will feature the double session "Building Your Supplier Relationship Management Program from the Ground Up." We'll cover the basics of how to create and manage a compliance manual, a supplier onboarding program, a scorecarding program, and a compliance program that allows you to recover expenses for supplier errors.

Going back to the golf analogy, think of your posture, or how you appear to the supplier, as the compliance manual. These guidelines and standards explain the requirements suppliers must follow to do business with you. Think of your grip as your scorecarding process. Scorecarding constantly tracks a variety of key performance indicators and provides timely relationship feedback to both the supplier and your retail organization.

Think of alignment in your relationship with the supplier as your compliance program. Is the supplier consistently meeting order requirements? Are both sides dealing with disputes and non-compliance challenges in a productive way that allows you to resolve issues and maintain an amicable trading partner relationship? Of course, an effective supplier onboarding program will help you achieve internal and external alignment that sets up new suppliers for success and minimizes risk.

Our double session at the RVCF Spring Conference is specifically designed for retailers that don't know where to start with a supplier relationship management, as well as retailers that need help expanding or updating an existing program. For example, you have a compliance guide but not a program for recovering expenses through chargebacks. Maybe you have a compliance program but no scorecarding system. If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you should be attending this session.

Too many retailers make the mistake of simply finding a competitor's compliance site and mimicking whatever the competitor is doing. This approach almost never works because you end up with a program that isn't customized for your organization.

What are your organizational goals? What are you trying to accomplish for your customers and your shareholders? Are the various elements of your supplier relationship management program aligned with those goals? If not, they could just be creating noise and confusion.

What are your biggest problems? Does your program address these problems? For example, if your noticing recurring issues with ASNs, have you updated your compliance manual to explain how to create and send ASNs? Do your offset policy and scorecards emphasize the importance of ASNs? The clearer you make your goals, requirements and expectations to suppliers, the fewer problems you'll have with shipping errors.

We'll discuss these and other issues during this robust double session. We'll also provide handouts, checklists and complete copies of all materials presented. You can then return to office prepared to educate you colleagues and move your supplier relationship management initiative forward.

As Ben Hogan said, good golf begins with a good grip. Every golfer is constantly reminded by instructors and coaches to check and validate their grip, posture and alignment. Retailers should do the same with their compliance manuals, onboarding, scorecarding and compliance programs.

Over time, little things get missed or fall out of alignment. If not addressed, little things can turn into costly problems that eat into profits and cause friction in the trading partner relationship. Best practices in golf and retailing are to master the basics first to give yourself a solid foundation and constantly confirm that you're doing the basics correctly, completely and consistently.

We invite you to learn more about building your supplier relationship management program during the RVCF Spring Conference in Clearwater Beach. Contact Susan Haupt or register online.

CLICK HERE to return to the APRIL 2018 RVCF LINK

Tags:  RVCF Spring Conference 2018  Supplier Relationship Management 

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