Iceland has taken Booker’s collaborative approach with suppliers to the next level by plugging them directly into its store replenishment system and allowing them to pull off sales data for individual SKUs at store level.

Nine months into the co-managed inventory initiative with software supplier JDA, Iceland has significantly reduced its stockholding and improved onshelf availability, said Iceland supplier development manager James Hulse.

“Basically, suppliers can plug into our store replenishment system and find out sales of individual SKUs at individual stores, stock levels at our depots, what’s on order and what’s been
delivered. They can also see anomalies between store and depot forecasts.”

Given that replenishment to retailers’ warehouses is usually handled separately from store replenishment and does not reflect sales through the till accurately, suppliers need EPoS sales as well as depot stock data to help them plan production, said Hulse. “The problem with orders to the depot is that they only provide half the story. We are giving suppliers access to the data that will help them manage their business with us far more effectively.”

The project, which has been shortlisted for IGD’s Ian Maclaurin award for supply chain excellence, is unusual in that it concentrates on own label, said Hulse.

As own label suppliers are working with a bespoke product to a unique specification, matching supply with demand is even more crucial, as residual stocks, packaging and raw materials cannot necessarily be used for other products or customers. Greater visibility has been particularly beneficial for short shelf life products.
Elaine Watson