Wednesday 22 February 2012

Deductions, an Opportunity for All?

Yesterday’s NamNews report of Tesco and Waitrose allegedly charging suppliers for missed or late deliveries raises a number of issues, especially the ‘ownership’ of risk in business.
Retailers achieve average stockturns of 20-25 time a year by integrating supplier-retailer logistics systems, utilising smaller, more frequent deliveries to produce predictable on-shelf availability performances at minimal instore stock-levels. Partnership at this level is dependent upon contractual agreements (really think GSCOP had gone away?) between the parties that have built-in KPIs and penalties for non-compliance. This allows deduction-parameters and penalties to be negotiated upfront thus preventing ‘surprises’ later.
It can also facilitate a fair-share apportionment of risk in the relationship.
Why bother? 
Given that deductions can represent 7-10% of a supplier’s sales, and as net margins continue to fall, then any improvement in deductions management will not only have a significant impact upon cashflow and profitability, but will also have a major impact upon the equivalent incremental sales-profit relationship.
The numbers count
As always, adding the numbers will help to communicate the issues, internally and externally. 
For instance, for a supplier making 6% net profit before tax, on a sales turnover of £50m, reducing deductions by £1m will impact the bottom line with the equivalent of an incremental sales increase of over £16m…a 32% uplift in sales!
Why deductions occur
Essentially, the management of deductions is complicated by the lack of direct ownership, in that departments such as sales, marketing, logistics, category management and finance all have an influence in terms of cause and effect upon the level of deductions made by customers. Despite the fact that many deductions are preventable, deduction resolution is still regarded as a low status, ‘negative’ activity and in a time of cut-backs, tends to be under-resourced in terms of people, systems-support and relevant information.
Reducing preventable deductions
Leaving aside unauthorised and authorised deductions, suppliers have most to gain by focusing upon reducing preventable deductions, and given that these are mainly caused by the supplier’s ability to adhere to the retailer’s compliance process, the solution lies in the supplier’s willingness and ability to tailor their systems ‘front-end’ to the customer’s requirements, a given with invest-level trade partners committed to joint value creation. Also, given their overall responsibility for the entire multilevel-multifunctional supplier-customer relationship, it is obvious that the NAMs should be regarded as a key driver in fusing the often disparate parts of the interface.
Removing incompatibilities and 'disconnects' 
Essentially, this means leading the search for incompatibilities that cause ‘disconnects’ between the two companies’ systems, selling the solutions in terms of compliance KPIs internally and externally, and incorporating these within overall trade strategies and annual negotiated settlements between the parties.
A key payoff resulting from faster deduction resolution for the NAM will be the ability to set promotion strategies based upon real-time performance feedback. As a result, all departments will benefit from better integration within realistic trade strategies that use supply-side and demand-side joint KPIs to move the business forward with greater degrees of transparency and defensibility. 
Board-level involvement
At a higher level, there is a need for board members of supplier and retailer organisations to drive compliance standards across the trade and facilitate the communication and acknowledgement of customer compliance requirements within their companies.
Finally, given that most deductions queries are cleared in favour of the customer, it is hopefully obvious that deductions also represent a major opportunity for retailers to ensure supplier compliance and grow their bottom line at the expense of less organised suppliers distracted by other, more exciting priorities….
For a free copy of our KamTips checklist on Deduction Reduction email me on

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great insight mate, thankyou. Checking now whether we've been charged!