Walmart requires all of its product suppliers to participate in “Retail Link,” a website that provides companies with information to help plan, execute and analyze their businesses to help better serve their customers.
However, while companies may consider Retail Link reporting to be “a burden” and either put the minimum amount of resources into the effort or do not perform the reporting at all, many are not aware of the opportunities available to them through this resource, says David Matsil, president of sales and marketing at Enhanced Retail Solutions (ERS), an affinity partner of the Toy Industry Association (TIA).
“This is an unbelievable opportunity that is wasted,” says Matsil. “Often, an accounting or administrative person is assigned to perform the reporting. While we have seen some outstanding results from people in those positions, a sales analyst or planner with deep experience insures the best chance of success – an incremental improvement can translate into incredibly significant dollars.”
According to Matsil, “there is a huge difference between data pulling and meaningful analysis. We have seen that difference result in higher instocks (e.g. 85% to 98%, generating an additional $1.5 million in sales) or adding hundreds of thousands of units by extending programs to additional doors.”
Matsil suggests digging deeper and using the full suite of tools Walmart offers. For example, for companies that ship assorted packs, changing Retail Link settings to “item level” allows suppliers to study how each item performs at retail.
Matsil also urges companies to fight the temptation of only reporting good sales.
“Addressing problems will earn you great credibility and improve your turnover, sales, profit and efficiency,” he says, adding, “And persistence pays: Keep up good, solid suggestions to the buyer and replenishment team. They may not listen every time, but it will improve your standing and relationship over the long run.”