Sainsbury has joined a growing number of retailers using new web-based tools to change the way it communicates with its supply base.
Sainsbury will use the tool - developed by US firm RollStream - to register new suppliers, relay new information to existing ones and measure performance.
The system, which Tesco has been using since 2007, was selected after a pilot project demonstrated its ability to help Sainsbury engage with more than 6,000 suppliers, and would in future be used as its single source of supplier information, RollStream founder Nick Parnaby told Food Manufacture.
“Sainsbury selected RollStream to engage, enroll, educate and enable suppliers. Its core use will be supplier communications, data collection and information management. In our experience, we mostly see that retailers use email, fax, adapted EDI [electronic data interchange] messages or word of mouth through buyers to get messages out to suppliers. This offers a holistic view of supplier information and a unified means of communicating with people in the supply chain.
RollStream contained tools to help buyers and other managers interact with suppliers more effectively when rolling out compliance related projects, new systems and policies, he added. But Sainsbury’s suppliers would also benefit, he claimed: “Suppliers will only have to go to one place to interface with Sainsbury for completing critical initiatives as well as other supplier enablement programs.”
Suppliers could also “self-service much of the master data concerning their relationship with Sainsbury, ensuring it is accurate”, he added. “Suppliers can also use the same log-in account to sign in only once and quickly navigate to the private community sites of our other customers such as Ahold or Tesco.”
Existing suppliers would not have to manually enter lots of information to the platform to get on board, he stressed. “RollStream can mass upload core ‘get going’ supplier information from Sainsbury’s databases.”
Tesco signed with RollStream in early 2007 to create a closed-loop communications site for corporate purchasing with more than 4,800 active suppliers, he revealed. “Tesco subsequently implemented our automated supplier registration application to reduce the cost and time taken to onboard new suppliers and manage its BACS [Bankers’ Automated Clearing Services] and affiliation credentials and business profile information.”
While RollStream’s applications were “inspired by the simplicity and ease of use of familiar social networking and Web 2.0 offerings like LinkedIn and Facebook, Sainsbury’s suppliers would “not be undertaking peer-to-peer networking”, he said. “There will be no visibility between suppliers regarding activities and data.”
Other retailers using the system had reduced the time to get new products to market, improved customer relations by being able to interrogate supplier information more rapidly, and slashed administrative costs associated with supplier management, claimed Parnaby.
“Equally as important as the onboarding of new suppliers is the maintenance and governance of changes to existing supplier information. RollStream’s collaborative supplier information management capability enables suppliers to manage their own profiles and initiate changes to their information themselves, but ensures that such changes are tied to a customer-defined approval process - allowing comprehensive visibility and management of supplier master data.”