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Help Desk
Published: March 26, 2024

Strong and reliable supplier relationships are critical to the success of any retailer. However, the retail landscape is competitive, making the need to be considered best-in-class (BIC) by suppliers imperative for sustainable success. Becoming BIC positions retailers as the first choice when suppliers decide where to invest their resources and who to partner with to execute their strategies.

In the following analysis, our team studies the 2023 Advantage Report Voice of the Supplier feedback and insights from eight European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain and the UK. This gives us a look into what suppliers view as the characteristics and behaviours of BIC retailers, giving retailers guidance on how to be viewed as BIC by suppliers.

Insights were extracted from an analysis of the top-scoring retailer in each European country and how suppliers rated them, including their score, gap to average, and qualitative analysis of verbatim survey comments (generated by Advantage Qualitative Artificial Intelligence).

Two people shaking hands in partnership

The competencies that European retailers are best at, according to suppliers, are program execution, capability and experience, and effective supply. Succeeding in these competencies is key to establishing a good foundation with supplier partners.

Regionally, suppliers want trusting and smooth relationships, closely followed by mutual profitability, joint solid business planning and retailers with a category-centric approach. As a result, retailers who wish to stand out from other retailers as BIC should prioritize trust, ease of business and collaborative planning — competencies that allow for these results. 

Advantage Report is built on an engagement framework that measures the performance of business partners across four key pillars (engagement drivers) of their relationships: partnership, execution, reputation and vision. Learning how to strengthen each engagement driver is critical to becoming your suppliers’ first choice.

Here’s how retailers can succeed in each engagement driver:

  • Partnership – how you do things: BIC retailers must prioritize collaborative planning and ease of business.  
  • Execution – what you do: Program execution and effective supply are top-scoring competencies in BIC retailers.
  • Reputation – who you are: This driver underpins strong and sustainable regional relationships. Trust is a top priority alongside capability and experience.  
  • Vision – where you’re going: A clear, well-communicated strategy with seamless and innovative omnichannel activation is valued regionally.

Advantage Report also helps retailers understand performance through different functions, areas of expertise and strategic capabilities.

Here’s how BIC retailers perform:

  • People and organization – They foster professional and transparent relationships through clear strategies and approaches to decision-making and problem-solving.
  • Supply chain – BIC retailers practise clear and prompt communication and collaboration and operate efficiently and with agility.
  • Sustainability – They are committed to sustainability, with clear goals underpinning initiatives across the supply chain.
  • Category and business development – They have a shopper-centric approach and are data and insight-driven, with mutual strategic goals.
  • Retail execution – BIC retailers are efficient at store execution of agreed plans, with excellence in shopper engagement.
  • Digital leadership – They innovate in leading shopper platforms and internal systems and provide a seamless shopper experience.

Overall, there are commonalities in what suppliers view as BIC and focus areas for retailers who want to be the first choice with suppliers across Europe. It comes down to three overall strengths:

  • Collaboration and trust in terms of working relationships
  • Efficiency and agility in terms of operational execution
  • Transparency and alignment in terms of strategic aims

To discover how to strengthen your relationships with suppliers and become a best-in-class retailer, contact us to connect with your local Engagement Advisor.