The past year has been a whirlwind period for trading partner collaboration, and 2013 is already shaping up as a year in which new initiatives will accelerate the activity.
A number of successful collaborative efforts were spotlighted last year, such as a partnership between Roundy’s and The Clorox Co. that increased sales of preventative care products and included a tie-in with pharmacists, and another one between Kroger Co. and Coca-Cola’s Vitaminwater products. Those initiatives, showcased at FMI2012 in Dallas, emphasized merchandising innovation and honest discussions between partners, and showed that companies are increasingly willing to share stories of efforts that succeed in boosting growth.
No less important was a Sam’s Club initiative outlined at the GMA Executive Conference, which involved a joint business planning process that built trust with trading partners while putting the emphasis on insights into the needs and desires of Sam’s members.
By year-end, an SN poll found a positive result about collaboration. Some 65% of respondents said they are trying to optimize trade promotions and merchandising through greater collaboration with suppliers and data-driven analysis.
The big news for 2013 is that collaboration momentum is already building, supported by new tools being launched early in the year. The Promotion Optimization Institute (POI), in collaboration with St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, is launching an accredited educational program leading to a certificate as a certified collaborative marketer.
As explained to me by Michael Kantor, founder and chief executive officer of POI, “There are countless examples of retailers and suppliers being told they should collaborate. This program is the how to, and our goal is to help make it a sustainable, repeatable and improving practice.”
Meanwhile, FoodInstitute is launching a new Internet-based platform for joint business planning that will “enable independent retailers to regularly connect with manufacturers,” according to a description of a session set for FMI Midwinter.
Despite all the advances in collaboration, let’s not get too giddy about the progress. In many ways, this practice is still in its early days, as partners are just starting to feel more comfortable sharing information in deeper ways. This will need to continue if collaboration is to achieve its ultimate potential.
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