“United we stand, divided we fall”- this Aesopian dictum perhaps encapsulates best the need for a seamless collaboration between convenience stores and their suppliers. The new breed of picky and quality-conscious customers is putting the screws on C-stores to think beyond homespun partnerships with suppliers. Only an intensive collaboration has the power to orchestrate symphony across the supply chain and achieve sustainable competitive advantage. To neutralize the possibility of fraying around the edges in today’s greatly fragmented market environment, convenience stores have to be shopper-centric in terms of product offerings. Collaboration surpassing mere tactical arrangements is not a short-lived affair, rather an agreeably long-haul journey that eventually jack-up revenues and shrink expenses through shipshape processes and better designs. Though synchronization of mature level pops-up certain pesky issues about operations, data security, and logistics, nevertheless benefits of collaboration fight-off the chill winds of the underlying hiccups. Here are the fantastic four benefits:
- Focused and customized merchandising, pricing and promotions: Adhering to a comprehensive collaboration model enables both the stakeholders of the game to exchange business critical insights in real-time. Twenty-four seven access to point-of-sale data is a rich seam to mine; it has the potential to sidestep stock outs and deferred procurement cycles. Monetization opportunities increase as collaboration ensures leaner planogram, accurate demand projection, and brisk stock replenishment. Furthermore, the practice of standardized promotions and aimless pricing can be done away with. Instead, more focused and customized pricing and discounting decisions can be hammered out.
- Faster invoicing and payments: Members of the C-store supply chain have to deal with a deluge of invoices at any given point of time, so maintaining probity of the invoice raising process is pivotal. Preparation of faulty invoices put unnecessary financial burden on convenience stores as well as vendors. Automated invoice processing system installed as a result of deep collaboration optimizes costs and saves time by filtering-out any invalid entries.
- Product lifecycle management: Convenience stores are known for scant staff. When there are too many activities to be handled by a couple of people, the products might get sidelined. Like animate beings, products visible on the shelves of C-stores pass through four distinct phases; development, growth, maturity, and decline. With effective supplier collaboration, vendors can keep their eyes on each stage because that will have reassuring impact on sales. Suppliers can act faster to the changes and customer preferences.
- Common goals: The biggest boon of collaboration is that it is a tool to tap complementary expertise for developing a mutually profitable business proposition. An integrated analytics platform grounded on a perfectly aligned outlook on customers drastically reduces vendor and item costs. By forging uninterrupted alliance throughout the vendor network C-stores attune their organizational goals to suppliers’ objectives.