• Five questions every vendor needs to ask their distributor

        • The technology industry is nothing if not fast-paced, and with this comes both opportunities and obstacles, changing customer behaviour, shorter product lifecycles, and the continuing shift online. According to Westcoast Retail, tech vendors and retailers live and die by this constant state of flux.

          Developing the best or most desirable product is no longer enough. Product availability, pricing and the overall customer experience are all vital in turning years of product development and investment into deserved sales, and it is increasingly becoming the case that at the heart of a product’s retail success is the distributor.

          For vendors, selecting the best distributor for their needs is essential, however this can be a difficult process. So, what do they need to know before selecting their distributor? Westcoast Retail, has suggested five key questions that vendors must ask any potential distribution partner.

          What supply chain solutions and improvements can you offer?

          To satisfy the unique demands of individual vendors, retailers and even individual products, it is essential that the supply chain model has been tailored to suit their needs. This bespoke supply chain model must take into account the different lifecycles and seasonal fluctuations in demand of each product and must always remain flexible.

          Do you work collaboratively with the retailer and us?

          Keeping up with the fast paced nature of the technology market places additional pressure on already stretched store staff, often resulting in delayed pricing or display updates. The ability to see which stores are up to date and identify those that still need updating can prove invaluable to vendors and retailers, saving them time, whilst providing an open and honest report that will help improve the relationship between all parties involved.

          Do you go beyond the stock room and on to the shop floor improving on shelf availability and providing in-store reports?

          One of the cardinal sins of an inefficient supply chain is the visibility of products, or lack of it, if they are in fact in stock. A distributor that can react quickly to orders and accurately forecast sales would help ensure that a product in stock in the distribution centre is also available in the store’s stock room. The responsibility for then ensuring the product is on the shop floor often lies with the store, however this is much more effective when picked up by an external, dedicated store-based merchandising team.

          What reports and insight can you provide for each retailer?

          To experience healthy sales, technology products must be well presented and accompanied with informative and attractive point of sale (POS) material. A dedicated merchandising team that works closely with both the retailer and manufacturer can ensure products are displayed in an attractive way, with the correct additional information, and showing with the latest pricing.

          Can you provide a drop ship/click and collect solution?

          It is essential that as much care is given to the online customer experience as in store. This includes refining the purchasing process to as close to the optimum three clicks as possible whilst also providing enough easy to access information about the product along the way. The online customer experience doesn’t finish at the checkout, however, and the distributor must work in sync with both manufacturer and retailer’s current and often unique system to deliver and accept any returns in the smoothest and fastest way possible.

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