Retailers: Are you using the digital tools that are sparking a sourcing revolution?


If you answered “no,” brace yourself. The digital approach is beginning to take a strong hold in the supply chain as it provides greater innovation and communicative collaboration between organizations and their suppliers. With 93 percent of respondents saying that they work with at least one new supplier each year and when you consider the number of departments these organizations have, they can be working with up to 500 new vendors a year. However, they are still using outdated technologies to share ideas throughout the creative process.


New data, uncovered by our recent survey report, Digital Sourcing in the New Retail Economy, found that retailers want better communication with suppliers – but most aren’t talking at all.


The egregious abuse of email

On the consumer-facing side, technology rules. More and more brands are using innovative approaches to communicate with their customers through every digital medium from instant messages to video chats. Unfortunately, the survey results indicate that despite the availability of tools to help them become good cobblers, retail companies are making their sourcing professionals go barefoot – the majority (63 percent) of respondents reported using outdated applications like Outlook to manage complex sourcing relationships.


Retailers have a plethora of tools available to them to get the job done: so why are they flocking to generic applications such as email? Though they may be easy to use, programs like Outlook are not built to manage supply chain complexity while meeting the demands of today’s always-on consumer.


It’s clear: Communication is critical, but execution is lacking

Like most solid relationships, communication is the key to success in the retail world.


However, retailers made it clear there’s a huge gap in communication between themselves and suppliers. Only 28 percent of respondents said they look to designers for new ideas and 55 percent tap their suppliers. Instead of turning to their supplier community, most respondents (88 percent) said they rely on social media, the internet and magazines for their daily inspiration.


What’s more: Just nine percent of retail professionals say they share information with their suppliers daily, and only 55 percent say they talk to their suppliers as frequently as once a month.


Digital sourcing is the answer

How can retailers address this communication divide? You guessed it – by using digital tools to communicate quickly and easily, helping them to discover, develop and deliver great products to diverse markets around the world.


Digital sourcing provides a single communication platform for ongoing collaboration and inspiration. By allowing retailers and their suppliers to collaborate on big initiatives, retailers can speed their time to market, stay on top of trends and make better, more profitable operational decisions.


Retailers that work with their retail community from the beginning of their creative process have an advantage by tapping their many suppliers for ideas and advice on trends. This upfront communication helps companies avoid issues like creating products that factories can’t make or items that won’t work in certain markets.


If retailers want a more collaborate and communicative process, they must leave behind their old retail mindset and adopt the new retail mentality.



Interested in learning more? Download Bamboo Rose’s full report: Digital sourcing in the New Retail Economy