Dive Into a New Product Category
-on-time product delivery;
-consistent case-pick quality;
-purchase order ship date;
-item information (e.g. dimensions, case quantity);
-barcoded and labeled boxes;
-value-added services (e.g., pre-ticketing); and
-inbound visibility via electronic data transfer (i.e., what’s coming and what’s in each box).
The reason some catalogers fail to have established Vendor Guides, says Cooper, is that when their companies were smaller, catalogers didn’t think they needed official written rules for vendors to follow. And now that their catalog companies have grown larger, executives don’t seem to have the time to craft such a document.
“In reality,” says Cooper, “if they consider the amount of time, money and energy wasted on resolving issues stemming from confusion or misinterpretation of rules, catalogers really don’t have time not to [devise Vendor Guides].”
At a catalog, Cooper continues, “Anyone who is directly tied to vendor compliance should have a good understanding of the rules and policies in the Vendor Guide.”
To this end, Guschke says, your rule book must be an integral part of your receiving and vendor compliance audit program. “Each organizational unit that touches the vendor-compliance activities has to know the rules, so there’s a clear communication between you and your vendors.”
Administer Vendor Relations
How should those rules be administered and by whom? Cooper suggests that a cross-functional team — never just one department — should be in charge. “The rules should be developed in concert with operations, insisted upon by the buyers, and administered by the inventory control group,” she notes.
Guschke recommends setting up an organizational unit with specific responsibilities to administer and monitor vendor compliance on a daily basis, most frequently as a component of the logistics/distribution function. Also, he says, a multidepartmental compliance team — with reps from buying/merchandising, distribution, legal, inventory management and finance — can be set up to establish policies, guidelines and criteria.