Retailers and suppliers: Can’t we just get along?

An interesting discussion at RetailWire this week about the prospects (or not) for better relationships between vendors and retailers. It’s never a simple issue, and becomes more complex every day for a variety of reasons. Here’s my point of view:

The long-term trend toward consolidation means that there are fewer retailers, each with more negotiating power in the marketplace. At the same time, these retailers’ need to develop exclusive products and brands puts many vendors into a vulnerable position. So the entire concept of “win/win” becomes much more challenging for manufacturers.

A good place to start is the use of collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment (CPFR) to help manage the supply chain. This sort of open communication about ways to save costs and drive better in-stock execution is a fact-based way to encourage objective collaboration. From this point, it should be less challenging for vendors to build other areas of trust and cooperation with their biggest accounts.



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