According to the report, manufacturers are looking to work with companies that invest in strong supplier relationships and good inventory management and have a clear strategy to engage consumers and respond to consumer demands.
It seems Walmart and Kroger, especially, are embodying the kinds of traits manufacturers seek in a business relationship.
The report listed Walmart, Kroger and Costco as the top three retailers (respectively) with the clearest company strategy in 2017, and in the overall composite ranking, Walmart took first place, Kroger took second and Costco took fifth. Manufacturers consider Kroger to be the best retailer to do business with, while Walmart took a close second (Costco was seventh).
From an operations standpoint, the report’s findings suggest that Walmart and Kroger have become especially savvy at using data in a variety of ways, forecasting demand and streamlining their supply chains to meet demand. In fact, the report notes top comments from manufacturers were that “Walmart manages their inventory better than anyone,” and “manage[s] supply and demand with unrivaled precision.”
Furthermore, Kroger has an “excellent category review process that is well thought out and incorporates viewpoints from multiple vendors in shaping strategy” — indicating strong relationships with its suppliers.
When ranking the top retailers, manufacturers honed in on several key qualities like data-centric practices, supply chain management, clear branding and treating retail as a service for customers.
There are many keys for operational success, like aligning demand forecasting with operations and improving inventory management, but companies without flexible, innovative supply chains may be unattractive to potential business partners.