Best Practices In Tracking Vendor Progress

A Q&A by IRT (Innovative Retail Technology) with Michele Salerno, Director of Sales and Marketing, Asst. VP, Celerant Technology Corp.

IRT sits down with Michele Salerno, Director of Marketing and Sales, at Celerant Technology about automating POs, best practices in tracking vendor progress, and more.

IRT: Explain the importance of integrating with vendor catalogs to eliminate manual entry of products into database.

Michele Salerno Sales & Marketing Director
Michele Salerno, Director of Sales and Marketing, Asst. VP, Celerant Technology Corp.

Salerno: The most obvious answer — and the one that most retailers can immediately relate to — is the number of labor hours it saves by not having to manually enter product information. When performed manually, it’s a very time consuming process just to get all of the right information in the right place. It’s also easy to introduce mistakes like typos, so once all the information is transcribed, someone has to go back and double check to make sure it is accurate.

However, the advantages go much further than that in that vendor catalog integration actually improves retailer/vendor relationships. When dealing with retailers that integrate with their catalogs, vendors know that they no longer have to send out alerts every time they update their products. Any time retailers refresh the catalog through the integration platform, anything new the vendor added is immediately visible. Vendors also love feeling in control of their brands, and they know that retailers that integrate with their catalogs have immediate access to their images and product descriptions. They don’t have to worry about a retailer using photos or words that do not align with their brand.

IRT: What is the best way to automate POs? Explain.

The best way to automate POs encapsulates just-in-time inventory management, which the world’s top economists have been touting for decades. The problem with JIT in the past is that it required robust human intervention to function properly. Automated POs give any retailer the power of JIT principles through minimum and maximum inventory thresholds. It’s really quite simple: All a retailer has to do is tell the automated PO system both the highest and lowest number of a product it wants available on shelves at all times. When the available inventory approaches the bottom of the that threshold, it automatically orders more of the product not to exceed the maximum number once fulfilled. This ensures that there is always enough of every item available at all times without carrying excess inventory. Automated POs can also be programmed to adjust for shrinkage rates and seasonal changes in demand…

IRT: What benefits do live online vendor feeds showing vendors current available QOH and MSRP offer? Why?

Salerno: It gives retailer the ability to sell many more products or extend the product lines they already sell on their websites. Since selling this inventory takes no shelf space and requires no investment, there is no theoretical limit to the number of SKUs any retailer can sell, it’s just what makes sense for customers since the retailer still must assume marketing efforts…

IRT: What are the advancements in drop shipping that benefit retailers?

Salerno: Drop shipping earned a negative reputation at the dawn of e-commerce because variability in how different vendors shipped created too much uncertainty for retailers. Most of the digital retailers that survived the dot com crash did away with drop shipping as a means of keeping customers happy, but thanks to advancements in inventory tracking and retailer integrations with vendors, it is making a comeback. In fact, we recommend drop shipping for many of our retailers because it enables them to sell more products without the burden of carrying excess inventory…

IRT: What are the best ways to track vendor progress?

Salerno: Omni-channel integration is key to pegging aggregate sales to appropriate vendors. Most retailers face certain degrees of disparity as to which items sell best online versus which sell in-store. There is also variability between vendors. Some offer drop shipping, others don’t; some integrate their catalogs, some aren’t there yet; some fulfill automated purchase orders, others still use paper. That’s why it is beneficial for retailers to be able to report on which sales originated from which vendors…

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