Inbound Logistics | August 2022


by Andrew Butt Co-founder and CEO, Enable | 628-251-1057

How Strong Trading Relationships Help Win and Retain Customers

The most effective supply chains are built on a firm foundation of cooperation between suppliers and distributors. Strong trading relationships have a significant impact on just about every measure of performance: customer service, transportation and storage costs, risk, forecasting, lead times, and even product development.

Use digital resources. Supply chains face unprecedented competitive pres- sures, but they also have powerful digital resources at their disposal to meet these challenges. However, while more than three-quarters of companies in the sec- tor are increasing the use of technology in response to recent supply chain disrup- tions, a Bain survey nds that just 8% have “achieved their targeted business outcomes from investments in digital technology.” One of the most important digital tools for the maintenance of strong sup- ply chain relationships is a data-driven rebate management platform. Rebates create incentives for suppliers and dis- tributors to continue working together, as they bring projections about delivery schedules, consumer demand, and other variables into alignment with reality. Supply chain partners need a shared digital platform that allows them to com- municate, collaborate, and scrutinize the same data to get clarity on how rebates are calculated and what their agree- ments cover. By forging relationships around trans- parency, integrated operations, and data-driven exibility, supply chain part- ners put themselves in a position to give customers top-notch service and outpace competitors. n

Strive for continuous improvement in your trading relationships . Even healthy supply chain relationships can always be improved, which is why part- ners should constantly search for ways to improve the quality and accessibility of data, reduce costs and delivery times, eliminate waste, and manage risk. Suppliers and distributors can build sustainable relationships by sharing information across all segments of the supply chain, bringing goals and strat- egies into alignment, and accounting for changing consumer demand and economic circumstances with a robust rebate management platform. TRUST AND MUTUAL BENEFIT Respondents to a 2020 Deloitte study agree that the two most important factors in supply chain collaboration are “trusted relationships with the other party” and “mutual benet for you and the other party.” Suppliers and distributors that don’t priori- tize collaboration will get left behind.

The best way to ensure that your supply chain is capable of meeting an ever-ex- panding range of customer needs more effectively than your competitors is to make collaboration a top priority. By focus- ing on transparency, data sharing, and increasing the efciency of joint opera- tions, supply chain partners will attract and retain more customers than ever before. Visibility is critical for today’s supply chains. Retailers and distributors can use shared data for accurate demand forecasting, capacity planning, qual- ity management, and order fulllment. Robust data collection and analysis helps supply chain partners quickly adjust to changing market conditions and track other changes in consumer behavior, which allows them to orient operations and agreements around relevant insights. Signicant majorities of consumers expect ease, speed, and personaliza- tion, and supply chain partners will only be able to meet these demands if they work together.

32 Inbound Logistics • August 2022

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