Woolworths recognises the importance of the voice of the supplier.

Woolworths needed to become the “Customer of Choice” for suppliers to win in the competitive Australian grocery market. Woolworths decided to transform supplier relationships and understood that listening to and measuring the voice of the supplier is the key to achieving this.

At a glance

The team traveled to Woolworths HQ in Sydney to conduct several working sessions with the own brand (aka: private label) team. A crucial aspect of the visit involved meetings with various suppliers, from large, strategic manufacturers to smaller enterprises in an effort to streamline supplier relationship management.

Our SRM is practical, works for brands, and has an open approach. Woolworths has seen encouraging improvements in feedback from own brand suppliers.

We believe much of this is attributable to a collaborative approach to supplier relationships that seeks benefits to both Woolworths and suppliers. Our SRM platform played an important part in achieving this.

Ward Duvall

Strategy & Business Development Executive, Woolworths

Background

Woolworths has been savvy to recognize that working with winning suppliers is a prerequisite for creating winning products. Put simply, Woolworths needed to become the “Customer of Choice” for suppliers to win in the competitive Australian grocery market.

To do this, Woolworths decided to transform supplier relationships and understood that listening to and measuring the voice of the supplier is the key to achieving this.

Before starting the process of researching and selecting a software provider to build a system specifically to engage with own brand suppliers, Woolworths reached out to own brand industry mogul of more than 30 years, Tom Stephens, for advice.

 

Solution

Creating a practical playbook for Woolworths

Tom recommended meeting with the Bamboo Rose supplier collaboration experts. A key factor in deciding to work with the team was its uniqueness in domain expertise.

The team met in Sydney to carry out some working sessions with specifically the own brand team. An important element of the trip was for Bamboo Rose to meet with suppliers, ranging from the large, strategic manufacturers through to the smaller operations. While suppliers spoke very highly of their peer-to-peer relationships with Woolworths Buyers and Quality specialists, they highlighted opportunities for more information and greater consistency at a higher level.

This trip resulted in the Woolworths senior leadership team approving a top-to-bottom review of how to scale supplier engagement and management best practices.

The output of the review was to create a practical playbook for Woolworths – enabling them to turn to the right item to meet their challenge. Elements of this playbook included practical systems recommendations but significantly, also operational recommendations to address the areas that will result in statistical wins for Woolworths while addressing what suppliers had reported as being important to them.

 

Impact

Systemising the playbook

There are many processes involved in a major private brand operation. A significant piece of the retailer-supplier relationship, consistency, and scalability puzzle was a new system to engage with and develop suppliers.

The playbook consciously addressed several key questions: How would a new supplier-facing portal sit within the rest of its systems landscape – some of which is all supplier, some of which is solely own brand?

Raising the bar on supplier relationship management

Woolworths carries out a regular supplier survey to ask how it is doing as a retail partner. Since working with our team, Woolworths has seen a positive impact on supplier relationships and a resulting increase in positive contribution from suppliers to the success of Woolworths own brand.

The launch of Woolworths’ supplier capabilities survey, earlier this year, was one of the recent steps taken in this journey which started three years ago when Woolworths took a top down view of what it really needed to do to drive positive supplier engagement.

Woolworths is truly at the forefront of own brand growth and the result of its considered planning to view suppliers as valued partners and respond to their concerns and feedback has put it firmly on the path to success in Australia’s competitive own brand market.