IT TOOK A few years, but our marketplace is experiencing a rapid and fundamental shift in business-to-business dynamics. Brands and retailers alike are not only embracing the use of data in their business relationships, but they are also insisting that their partners work with them.
Less than a decade ago, the resistance from retailers to sharing data with their suppliers was the norm. For their part, brands had little interest in doing the extra work required to help their retailers in analysis and inventory planning. But that has all changed very quickly. What began with a slow stream of data-sharing has become a tsunami.
During the fall shows, suppliers heard from their best retail partners that if they don’t start helping them by doing the work before their appointment, there would be no appointment. Retailers recounted conversations with their vendors that left no room for anything less than transparency and partnership.
There are several triggers involved in this change in attitude.
Retailers are busier than ever, but finding and training staff has been a challenge. This has left many in a deficit of time and energy, both of which are necessary for the labor that in-depth analysis and inventory management requires. These retailers have had to relinquish some of that management to the vendors, who now have the tools, training and information to help.
Sales reps who are showing up to appointments with a plan and a proposal are the ones getting their existing customers to share data, completely changing the relationships. The ones who don’t are losing market share.
Collaborative interaction has become the solid foundation of jewelry sales at both wholesale and retail, replacing the flimsy cards of schmooze and shlepp.
Within the 60 or so brands we are currently working with in the BIG Network, there are more and more reps who use Balance to Buy to do the inventory management for their retail partners. And within the 1,000 or so retailer doors from which we are receiving data, there are more and more buyers who are letting them do so.
This trend will only continue to grow even more self-reinforcing. The tsunami of retailers, suppliers and sales reps who embrace the simple yet powerful concept of collaboration and a win-win game plan are going to be the only ones left standing.