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We’re On the Same Team Part Two: Accountability in Collaboration

October 22, 2012

Manufacturers and retailers have been struggling disparately to move forward to a sustainable future, to no avail. In my last post (click to read), I compared their marketing efforts to the oars of a rowboat - ineffectively sweeping through the water one at a time, instead of simultaneously as they should.

They can come into an effective rhythm that will create a workable model of partnership, as I discussed, but this model can only be maintained when it is centered on accountability - something essential to the long-term success of manufacturer-retailer relationships. Think about it, if a manufacturer takes the time and effort to put policies in place and then ignores violators of its policies, the policies become useless. Or, if a retailer agrees to follow said policies and then breaks them or neglects to report unsanctioned or insidious retailer behavior, what good is their commitment for collaboration in the first place?

Accountability is the missing ingredient here, and is necessary for successful collaboration between manufacturer and retailer in this rapidly changing industry.

Manufacturers are accountable to their retailer partners in the following ways:
• Brand and Content Management: Limiting the use and distribution of their brand to only their sanctioned retail partners.
• Pricing Parity: Balancing the variation in Internet and brick-and-mortar advertised pricing for each of their products to create parity on all retail channels.
• Governance and Enforcement: Monitoring and governing their content (images, product descriptions, messaging, and more), products, and the fair pricing of their products to ensure security and transparency in the marketplace.

Likewise, retailers must play a role in their collaboration with manufacturers:
• Transparency to Customers: Promoting the brand names of their manufacturer partners' products on the showroom floor (Consumers can find this information online anyway - almost immediately - and this level of transparency builds trust with prospective customers).
• Policy Compliance: Upholding and supporting policies (pricing, content, etc.) set forth by their manufacturer partners. It's for the retailer's own benefit.
• Exposure of Offenders: When violators of manufacturers' policies are recognized or suspected, retailers must notify that manufacturer so that they can put a stop to shortsighted and harmful retailer behavior.

If any or all of these measures of accountability are neglected, the entire system of partnership basically falls apart. Retailers and manufacturers alike must work together and be accountable to one another in an integrated business model, in order to maintain its effectiveness toward a successful future for our industry.