For retailers, the first point of call-for-feedback is the shopper. Shopper purchasing patterns and product reviews often dictate strategy, but there are flaws in this system. Firstly, as the number of online reviews continues to grow, there has been a significant increase in the number of fake reviews (82% of shoppers have read a fake review in the last year) and a subsequent drop in shopper trust (65% of shoppers no longer trust online product ratings). Secondly, and more significantly, shopper feedback is usually provided in a “yes” or “no” format. It will tell you what did and did not work. With inaccurate or vague product reviews, many retailers find themselves axing products and shifting strategies without meaningful understanding of what can be done internally to be more successful in the future.
All this said, feedback is essential for improving any product, service, or business process. It provides critical data and insights into a business’ performance which is why retailers need to look beyond their shoppers and to their suppliers for more meaningful understanding.
Suppliers are positioned to provide the most accurate view of retailer performance at all levels. Their proximity to the retailer’s business can provide a deeper understanding for answering critical questions like:
- How can we operate better, faster, and more efficiently?
- Where are our resources best allocated?
- How do we innovate more effectively?
- How can we better serve shoppers?
- What do our suppliers know that they are not communicating to us?
Feedback from suppliers gives retailers a genuine insight into the strengths and weaknesses of their business, where certain investments should be made, where they are wasting resources, and whether the business, overall, is moving in the right direction. Due to the intertwined nature of the supplier-retailer relationship, both parties share definitions of success and target demographics which is crucial for gaining genuine and authentic feedback. Where shoppers are incentivized to be biased in their feedback, suppliers need retailers to be performing well for the benefit of their shared goals.
Yet, even when the decision is made to reach out to a supplier and gain their feedback, there are many pitfalls to overcome when wanting to gain accurate feedback. Although on a business-wide scale suppliers want to give honest feedback, for individuals with close working relationships with their retail peers, the prospect of providing feedback on someone else’s performance can feel overwhelming. This then begs the question: how can a retailer gain genuine and authentic feedback from their suppliers?
Bring in the listening experts
Advantage Report helps to obtain authentic and objective feedback that reflects suppliers’ voices while still maintaining their anonymity. It shows critical areas to action while providing a benchmark against a retailer’s competitors.
Using a uniquely personalized approach to collecting feedback, the first step is to understand who the stakeholders are at the suppliers’ businesses. We, at Advantage Group, then engage those stakeholders with their needs and the retailer’s interests in mind to understand how they can work better together. Finally, we collect constructive, accurate and honest feedback from those suppliers and outline the improvements retailers need to focus on in their business.
Apply the feedback of shoppers
With the honest and constructive feedback received from suppliers, retailers then have the necessary foundational knowledge to apply learnings to the products they sell and how to sell them. As a retailer, their suppliers are the key to trust. Their in-depth knowledge of the retailer’s business will guide them to pivot or stay on course. In a world of fake reviews and dwindling trust, the supplier–retailer relationship is more important than ever.