Wednesday 26 February 2014

Call me naive, but... How Tesco could rebuild trust in UK retail

Latest comments from Tesco and Sainsbury's stress the need for restoration of trust and clarity in retail, albeit at some cost to the bottom line.

Taking these at face value, it seems that the following steps might help:
  • Price clarity: A major opportunity lies in wait for those retailers that strip offerings back to the basics of letting consumers know what they get for their money. Apart from an obvious emphasis on unit pricing combined with a little education ref. prices per g/ml, it means eliminating all ‘letter & spirit’ legal issues regarding promotional offers, and replacing them with genuine, transparent and defensible offerings that can be compared accurately with competitors’ alternatives, like-for-like, but also meet and even exceed consumer expectation
  • Product delivery:  When a consumer opens a tin, its contents should match or even exceed the expectation created by the lid…a fundamental of branding based in part on the fact that the cost of making the first sale to a consumer is so high that profit is only possible on return visits without having to be re-sold
  • Demand forecasting: As ‘experts’ in consumption, suppliers can be in a position to help refine demand calculations and the combination of this insight with a retailer’s instore on-time fully-shared expertise has to be a way of ensuring 100% zero-defect shelf availability, at minimal cost for all parties
  • Trade credit: Credit was always meant to cover the gap between delivery of goods to a reseller and payment by shoppers, and was never intended as a means of generating interest on 40-day deposits. As such, given average retailer stockturns of 20 times per annum, this means paying supplier invoices within 2.5 weeks of delivery. There is even a case for paying faster for items delivered on a daily basis
  • Trade investment: Post-audit recovery came about because of a combination of inadequate ‘paper trails’ of promotional agreements by suppliers, and the ability of financial programmes to search and claim for unpaid funds for six years previously.  Despite the strict letter of the law supporting this process, a retailer could show some goodwill and pragmatism by limiting such searches to a maximum of two years…
  • Trade Deductions: Should not be regarded and treated a source of income, but should reflect genuine failure to meet reasonable standards agreed in advance as a condition of purchase, with perhaps some element of reciprocation for failures of on-shelf compliance...
  • Organisational compliance: The above changes need to be understood and communicated at all levels within both supplier and retailer organisations, thereby eliminating the possibility of 'rogue-buyer' defenses at higher levels of management…

Tesco, with 30% market share and a need to regain custom, is in a unique position to be in the vanguard of this change..

And if it results in a temporary loss of margin, so what… In time, as shoppers - and suppliers - begin to relax into the feeling that in a Tesco store, ‘what you see is what you get’ and even more, then the result will drop into the bottom line as repeat sales come in at less cost, like with all good brands…. 

1 comment:

Niall said...

Transparency and GENUINE collaboration with suppliers would be a great start. I'm in Australia and have found that our relationship with the 2 majors is vastly different. We are growing in both BUT we are working far more collaboratively with Coles so they are growing 3 times faster with us than Woolworths.
We have an established collaborative process with Coles and have service levels to them of 98%+ consistently.
Ultimately Suppliers and retailers are after the same goal but unfortunately some retailers think the supplier is trying to screw them and vice versa.