Cloud computing and Big Data technologies have created new options for retailers to get their suppliers involved sharing inventory and sales information (POS or Point-Of-Sale) with their vendors. Everyone can get on the same page regarding the business initiative and bring benefits to both the retailer and to its vendors.
The business case for retailer/supplier collaboration is simple: Cost savings and increased Revenue
The correct retail intelligence platform will save money on infrastructure costs and deliver operating improvements. Operations will see improvements from: reducing out of stocks and from increasing inventory turns.
Yes, all systems will require some degree of customization. There will always be unique product offerings or other quirks that must be handled. No two companies are identical, but the secret is to have software that accommodates customization. Downstream data sharing between retailers and their suppliers continues to grow, and along with it unique approaches and executions.
Sharing POS sales data sees both suppliers and retailers who have committed realizing ROI benefits from controlling out of stocks, managing inventory, forecasting and in the replenishment process. Now the data sharing is expanding outside the supply chain into sales and marketing. This may be because of more involvement by higher level executives, meaning the enterprise and the corporate strategists are becoming more comfortable with data sharing.
Yes, there are still obstacles. Some retailers are not comfortable sharing their detailed sales data. Then we still have retailers who insist on charging for access to that data.
Daily store-level point-of-sale (POS) product information is a must for business. POS data tells the story of what the customer is buying. It is broken down by UPC, price, store. With this information in hand and properly presented there is no reason for inventory levels to be missed. Companies are now smart enough to handle promotional events and product introductions by understanding their customers' actions.
The best outcomes happen when the retailers and suppliers share expectations and are focused on optimizing consumer demand.
I saved the best for last: integration with Big Data to give everyone a 360-degree view. My favorite is integrating with weather forecasts. Imagine: when to order extra snow shovels or fans!
Additional reading on Sharing POS Data