Data Sharing in Emerging Markets During Uncertain Economic Times

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Data Sharing in Emerging Markets During Uncertain Economic Times

By Alex Hase, Retail Solutions Inc. (RSi) - 09/09/2015
It seems that neither geo-political tensions nor a dip in oil prices will deter global retailers and manufacturers from expanding into emerging markets. Regions such as India or China, that were once considered emerging, have become familiar territories for brands that are looking to capitalize on the newfound middle class and its increased consumer spending. However, as China suffers from the slowest gross domestic product growth in a quarter century, Russia becomes subject to international sanctions, and structural economic issues plague Latin American countries, do developing markets still offer the opportunities and sources for growth that retailers and suppliers crave?  

According to the Global Retail Development Index by A.T. Kearney, retailers are staying the course in expanding their brands around the world — albeit with a more cautious outlook. The annual report found that despite the turbulence and instability seen during the last year, retailers are taking a longer-term view of emerging markets, with fewer exits and more targeted investments in areas of growth.

Now, more than ever, global retailers and suppliers must look for new efficiencies and ways to improve business performance — especially in emerging markets that are suffering from economic uncertainties. Data, infrastructure and processes can play a critical role in helping reap immediate gains and return on investment (ROI) through benefits including controlling out-of-stocks, managing inventory levels, forecasting and replenishment. The sharing of daily downstream data helps transform how retailers and suppliers communicate and collaborate throughout the supply chain and drive new efficiencies, improve supply chain performance, and ensure product availability.

While data sharing practices are nothing new and continue to evolve worldwide, especially in less sophisticated and resource-limited markets, using downstream data to make smart decisions at the store and on the shelf can boost overall business performance and customer satisfaction. When rolling out a data sharing and/or vendor collaboration program, consider the following:
  1. Tackle individual challenges of each market. Each emerging market is unique with its own market culture and business rules.  Being sensitive to this and not applying a one-size-fits-all attitude will go a long way in avoiding delays and lost market opportunities.
  2. Look to Western counterparts for successes and failures. Since the United States has a history of data sharing between retailers and suppliers, these companies offer an excellent case study on business processes and use cases that can yield the fastest returns — while also highlighting challenges that can arise and pitfalls to be avoided.
  3. Shelf availability is central to the customer experience — it’s universal.  There are few, more important drivers of shopper satisfaction than product availability.  Ensuring on-shelf availability is a critical success factor when it comes to profits and the bottom line in all markets. Plus, on-shelf availability alerting can generate a quick 7 to 10 percent lift.
  4. Start small, then expand. Every organization has its set of problems, big and small. Identify the top two to three business problems that must be solved this year. Conduct pilot programs first to hone processes and prove ROI. With the competitive advantage proven, the program can then be rolled out to the next group of products to find and fix any issues at scale.
  5. Standardize on a data sharing platform. Global suppliers should look for technology solutions that can address the unique conditions of emerging markets without adding too many layers of complexity. Look to replace feeds or portals with advanced data sharing platforms that scale with ease. Cloud-based solutions like RSi’s, can easily support remote configuration for each market and quickly respond to changing conditions.