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Thoughts from RetailWire on The State of Retailer-Vendor Supply Chain Relationships 2018 Report

April 30, 2018

Dan Gilmore


Supply Chain Digest

For the past several issues of the Retail Vendor Performance Management Bulletin, we've featured highlights from SCDigest's second biannual research report on the state of retail and vendor relationships and collaboration, based on survey responses from retailers and vendors.

The report was once again made possible by sponsorship from Compliance Networks.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

Good guidance + good compliance = table stakes in this day and age. No room for error.


Jeff Sward, Merchandising Metrics


The results of the report have garnered media coverage beyond SCDigest. For example, summarized some of the report data, and asked its retail industry readers: Are chargebacks a necessary evil for driving vendor compliance or do they undermine supply chain collaboration?

We summarize here some of the more interesting responses.

Bob Amster of Retail Technology Group opined that "Chargebacks are the symptom, not the problem."

The problem is compliance, he said, and "it has to be fixed at the root. Chargebacks should be used exclusively to drive home the need for vendors to comply with agreed-upon requirements."
Conversely, he said, "Collaboration can be achieved only between highly ethical, disciplined businesses. If either side of the transaction lacks those qualities, there will be chargebacks."

Ralph Jacobson of IBM said "This study shows that both parties feel the other party doesn't have the skill needed to collaborate, both sides believe there is a need for better tools and data visibility, and they also both feel there's little interest in collaboration in general. So, we don't think our trading partners have the skills required, we need better data and tools, but heck, we're not really all that interested in this collaboration thing, anyway."

He added: "LOL. Seriously?! These barriers are not all that new. Chargebacks are probably necessary as long as we continue to operate in the way we have been for years. There will take some key disruptors in the industry to step up and take on this challenge."

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Gene Detroyer, is a professor at the European School of Economics and former manager at a consumer goods company. His feedback was that "Chargebacks to a vendor are OK and deserved when a vendor doesn't comply. But chargebacks to a vendor when the retailer makes the mistake is as bad as robbery."

Jeff Sward of Merchandising Metrics, a former department store manager, remembered a tour of a retail DC where "We saw what happened to a shipment with proper packing and paperwork. We also saw what happened to a shipment that didn't comply. Nightmare in the DC. I can only imagine the same scenario years later. Good guidance + good compliance = table stakes in this day and age. No room for error."

Finally, Sara Mays of The Retail Coach Consultant Group added that "Technology can provide enhanced visibility but without a trusted partnership, the finger pointing will continue. Chargebacks ensure that the vendors remain partners in the selling process until the goods are in the customer's hands."

There was more. All good stuff.

The excellent full report can be found at

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