The VCF, A True Collaboration Of Retailers, Suppliers, And Solutions Providers
By Bob Johns, associate editor
As the retail world moves toward omni-channel sales and away from siloed individual channels, the relationship between retailers and vendors has become increasingly important. Customers expect the same product availability and experience no matter how they are interacting with the retailer. The retailer has to have visibility into the supply chain to know the product is available, where it needs to be, and is replenished accordingly.
This is where VCF, formerly known as the Vendor Compliance Federation, comes into the picture. Unlike many organizations that concentrate on either helping the supplier or the retailer, VFC uses a collaborative approach to improve supplier performance through increased visibility with technology and a host of support services, educational efforts, and unique tools like scorecards, for both the retailer and the supplier.
The VCF holds conferences in both the spring and fall of each year, with the spring conference focusing on retail, and the fall conference focusing on a number of industries. These conferences offer retailers the unique opportunity to discuss supply chain issues with other retailers that experience the same issues. Additionally, suppliers enjoy the same opportunity to speak with other suppliers and retailers alike. One of the greatest benefits to these conferences is that they offer an environment where retailers and suppliers can speak openly and frankly without concern. Several sessions are closed door and encourage the free flow of ideas, concerns, and opinions. This allows for organic growth within the industry by keeping issues and achievements at the forefront of the conversation.
Solutions Providers — Helping Retailers Keep Up
VCF’s work with retailers and suppliers needs one other player, the solutions provider. When it comes to the subjects of Global Logistics, EDI, RFID, inventory management, omni-channel fulfillment, or sustainability, who better to discuss the options available than the companies which provide the solutions. The solutions providers are the ones on the cutting edge of technology, but they need to be able to show retailers what is out there. What better way to get the message out than when you can be in front of VCF member companies like Sears, Big Lots!, Dillards, Ace Hardware, Pep Boys, Pier 1, Stage Stores, and many others? This is one place where retailers can have one-on-one sessions with suppliers or attend general educational sessions put on by industry thought leaders and practitioners. Many times retailers know what they want and where they want to go, but the solutions providers need to supply the means of getting there.
Customer service is becoming the differentiator for retailers as market competition heats up. This is evident nowhere more so than in fulfillment. Over the past few years, solutions providers have helped retailers consolidate fulfillment and replenishment across channels, offering an omni-channel view of the entire supply chain. This is something that retailers have been discussing with their suppliers as they ship from the store to the customer, to the store for pick up, and direct to customer. Getting the product to the customer as quickly as possible, and having that product replenished just as quickly are key to capturing the sale.
VCF is enabling the growth of the retail industry by facilitating the collaboration of retailers, suppliers, and solutions providers in all aspects of the supply chain. Without the suppliers, retailers have nothing to sell; without retailers, the suppliers have no way to sell their wares; without solutions providers, retailers and suppliers have no visibility into the supply chain, cannot accurately fulfill orders, and completely forget about “just in time” fulfillment. None of these entities can survive without the other two, and collaboration and open communication are the keys to helping all three grow.