Collaboration between suppliers and retailers has been proven to drive sales, innovation and profit while reducing workload. It is a highly effective way to reduce inventories and costs while increasing and improving customer satisfaction and retention, production efficiency, profits, and more. Collaboration is essential for long-term business success, enhanced competitive ability, supply chain optimisation, and improved brand reputation. It can be especially useful for retail and similar industries.
Here are 5 steps to kick-start a successful supply chain collaboration:
- Collaborate in areas of shared stability or success: The first element involved in supply chain collaboration is actually a need to acknowledge that mutual collaboration will lead to mutual benefits for all those involved in the supply chain. If parties do not have a belief that it is a beneficial process they are less likely to take part. Companies are often tempted to use collaboration as a way to fill gaps in their own capabilities. In practice, the most successful collaborations build on strengths rather than compensating for weaknesses.
- Define the terms and extent of the collaboration: Make sure that all partners are on the same page as to what the collaboration will consist of, the time period that it will cover, and how it will be executed. Communication is key for establishing and accomplishing successful supply chain collaborations.
- Strategic approach: Thirdly there is a need to adopt a strategic approach to the whole process of supply chain collaboration. This is in a sense, the umbrella for how the companies will operate together. If there is no strategy then there is no way that people will know what they are supposed to do or what is being expected of them. The strategy should also include some key performance indicators so that there are some tools to measure success and see how performance is doing.
- Engage in long-term collaboration: Supply chain collaborations, as compared to individual operations, provides partners with more benefits over the long term. Long-term collaborative supply chain relationships can foster innovation in terms of overcoming problems and challenges, as well as in terms of creating new products, services, and opportunities.
- Technology: Technology can be a key facilitator but use the right tools for the right jobs! Flexible standards based software can be deployed to simplify transactional functions while web based project management tools can bring virtual teams closer together.
There are many other elements that are required for supply chain collaboration but the 5 steps above will ensure collaboration can happen and that people will feel comfortable with the process of collaborating. Supply chain collaboration is extremely beneficial when done properly.
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