According to retail solutions provider, Solutions for Retail Brands (S4RB), a leading supermarket own-brand team is saving an estimated £150,000 a year by using S4RB’s supplierENGAGE™ software.
The software is being used to provide answers and information to its 600 private label food and grocery suppliers, diverting queries away from employees.
This way of working, known as Supplier Self-Help, enables retailers to create brand consistency across all their own-label products by providing a central database of information covering everything from branding specifications and legal requirements to company procedures, processes and ‘how-to’ guides.
The principle of Supplier Self Help is that easy-to-digest information should be available to suppliers 24/7. Without this, suppliers have no option but to contact retailers directly with any queries. “The industry cost benchmark for this type of technical support is over £20 per call or email,” explains Jan Fura of S4RB. “In many instances, there may have to be several phone calls for the supplier to track down the correct person, and in addition to the cost implications, this can mean that queries often go unanswered in the end. This can both damage a brand and risk non-compliance.
“Using supplierENGAGE™, suppliers access on average over 2,000 answers online per month about process, policies, training and general support, removing the need to phone or email the retailer for answers.”
A Gartner/Avaya study estimated that the costs of using a web service such as S4RB supplierEngage™ are 74% cheaper than answering questions by either phone or email.
Equally important, says Mr Fura, if more than one person within the retailer organisation is answering a particular question, the responses may be different and sometimes even inaccurate, allowing inconsistencies to occur. A Self-Help portal creates a single version response, which can be viewed by the entire supplier base, ensuring that policies and processes are applied consistently by all.
Another benefit of this approach is that the retailer is able to see very quickly and clearly the sort of questions being asked by their suppliers. This type of data cannot be easily compiled if different people within the organisation are fielding individual calls. Common questions can therefore be identified and responses for new topics prepared and placed online, accessible to all suppliers.
Supplier Self-Help provides effective support and training to suppliers of all sizes and competencies. It is particularly useful to help guide them through the implications and implementation of new regulations and legislation, such as was proven with the recent Food Information Labelling Regulations (FIR).
Above all, points out Jan Fura, Supplier Self-Help is a vital part of effective Supplier Engagement, making the overall supplier/retailer relationship easier and leading to more motivated and committed suppliers.
“If dealing with a particular retailer is made easy, suppliers will be more inclined to share innovations and employ their best staff on that customer’s account,” he concludes. “The result is a more productive, collaborative and ultimately more profitable working partnership on both sides, which can help to give retailers a competitive edge.”