The March-April 2011 edition of Loss Prevention Magazine featured an article written by Amber Virgillo about the Top 3 Pitfalls of Vendor-Retailer Relationships. In the article, Amber discussed key issues that often make it frustrating or complicated for one to work with the other. The article outlined three pitfalls that can damage a vendor-retailer relationship. These pitfalls are; Making Assumptions, Process Inconsistencies and Misleading Information. Amber’s article tackles a very interesting topic (I highly recommend reading it) as it discusses many issues often thought about but never openly debated between both retailer and vendor.
A topic I have often found interesting in a vendor-retailer relationship is how a retailer leverages (or doesn’t leverage) a vendor relationship to expand the retailer’s knowledge base in support of its loss prevention initiatives.
Now more than ever before solution providers have on staff former loss prevention professionals supporting their internal teams and retail partners with practical and real world knowledge. Using this internal knowledge base to support their own teams in product development, client support or sales, these resources also provide their clients with people who have “walked the walk.”
Companies like Aspect Loss Prevention have on their team Cheryl Blake and Kathleen Garner, who previously held Director level loss prevention positions and now serve their clients in key positions with Aspect Loss Prevention. Their LP knowledge allows their client base with the ability to call upon them to talk through issues, brainstorm about certain scenarios and work with Cheryl and Kathleen, both who have been successful using the tool as practitioners.
Do you have a vendor relationship that can provide you with the same type of knowledge and support?
A common frustration for a solution provider is when a retailer assumes that a solution provider cannot assist them. That because they are a “vendor” they would not understand the retailer’s world and therefore may not be able to assist the retailer in their needs.
Solution providers have the ability to work with a variety of retailers in many different environments. A good vendor relationship can bring to a single retailer the knowledge of many different retail environments and scenarios. An example from our own company is our relationship with the Hard Rock Café. Our relationship began because they learned of our retail loss prevention experience, not our restaurant experience. Rather than assume LPI may not have been able to handle the restaurant experience, they met with us and learned that our experience transcended retail across all segments and we have had a very successful and profitable relationships for several years.
In what ways can a solution provider help you to expand your loss prevention department?
Assist you in the development of a Return on Investment for a product or service
Provide benchmarking statistics in support of a product, service or inquiry
Co-develop program initiatives to support greater use of your department, resources or technology
Provide assessments on the use of a product, resource allocation or program initiative
Do you take the time to know vendor partners and the services that they can provide?
We know from experience that when LP Innovations is mentioned the first thing that comes to mind is outsourcing. At trade shows, we often see people walk by assuming that they know LPI as the company who provides services to retail companies that don’t have a loss prevention department. When an individual talks to a member of our team, they are often surprised to learn that the majority of our retail partners have an existing loss prevention function and internal loss prevention personnel.
Those that come to know LPI learn that we are all about supporting loss prevention initiatives. That our company provides a variety of specialized and specific services to support existing LP functions. This information is something that cannot often be detailed in a sales sheet or one a single web page. It is information that is derived from taking the time to talk through issues, ideas and spending time learning about each other’s needs, capabilities and potential.
Leveraging a vendor relationship can be a positive to any loss prevention initiative. Like any relationship it begins with both parties knowing the other and understanding how to use the skills and knowledge each brings to the table for success. When the stigmas of vendor-retailer are removed, there is no telling what can be accomplished.
Written by David Johnston, Director of Business Development