Wednesday 14 November 2012

Delivery leverage for on-time supply - Walmart pays upfront

Mexico's leading retailer Walmex has made early payments totalling US$326 million to its suppliers to make sure they deliver products on time for Thanksgiving and for the Christmas season. This has to be an indicator that when the circumstances are right, even the world’s biggest retailer will pay for goods in advance.

When you take into account that retailers in Mexico pay in 60-90 days, it can be seen that Walmart are in fact paying up to 6 months earlier than suppliers would normally have been paid…

Why a retailer can pay upfront
In practice, being cash-rich in that the consumer pays on receipt of goods, a retailer is capable of, and willing to pay in advance, on delivery or up to 90 days later, with or without settlement discount. In the case of private label, a retailer can even contribute to the investment in special plant, buy the raw material and ingredients and even contract to purchase at a given price for up to five years in order to help the supplier to amortise investment.

It all depends on the deal….
For this reason, it is vital that suppliers always have a clear idea of the financial dimensions of their relationship with individual retailers. This means being realistic about the pulling-power of their brand vs. available alternatives in the eyes of both consumer and retailer.

Running the numbers, both ways...
Based on this potential leverage, it is essential to calculate each element of the deal in terms of actual/estimated cost and also the incremental sales to the retailer in order to break even. It is then necessary to calculate what the retailer ‘gets’ from the brand in terms of margin, free credit, settlement discount, trade funding and above-the-line support in addition to service level, rotation, availability, exclusivity and priority when stocks are scarce, all set against their sales equivalent required to generate this total investment.

In other words, by listing the brand, a retailer on 5% net profit needs sales of £20k for every £1k received from a supplier…this needs bringing out in negotiation!

Going to ‘see’ the buyer without having run the numbers in this manner is worse than going in blind, especially if your competitor, without your brand benefits, knows and can use the financials, has eyes wide open…

Incidentally, before emailing the Asda buyer, it might be prudent to keep in mind that with planned purchases of $6.4bn in Mexico for Q4, Walmex are in fact paying for $326m in advance, i.e. 5% of purchases…

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