Bravo Business Center 2.0 – A Complete Category Solution for Retail Part III

As per part I, two years ago we reviewed BravoSolution‘s Business Center Category Sourcing Solution that took e-Sourcing to a new level for nine common categories that provided the Supply Management organization with a considerable sourcing challenge. In addition, we noted that BravoSolution didn’t stop there and kept going until they built a solution that, capturing the years of experience and knowledge built up by their global sourcing and solutions teams (who work out of offices in ten different countries on four different continents), captured all of the common categories for entire industries. This allows a sourcing professional in those industries to use the Business Center as a complete sourcing solution and apply built-in best practices built up from decades of experience.

Then, in Part II (dot 1 and dot 2), we noted that one of the industries that the Business Center serves, out of the box, is MRO because it is a vertical that is almost tailor-made for a business centre solution. Even though, as a category, it is one of the broadest categories imaginable, MRO organizations are generally not sourcing any particular product or service in volume and success often depends not on identifying the supplier who can give you the best price at the best service level on a part, but on identifying the supplier who can give you the best average price at the best average service level of a large market basket of parts (or the supplier who can bundle the services associated with installing a related market basket of parts at a competitive rate). Part II detailed how the business centre guides a buyer through the process, automates as much as possible, and makes it as easy as possible for a buyer to take a sourcing event from conception through award.

Today, we are going to discuss the business centre solution for Retail, used by some of the largest retailers in North America and Europe. The retail solution is designed to support categories with a large number of products that need to be sourced to a large number of distribution centres which serve a large number of stores that need variable volume levels of different products. These events need to be built on sophisticated models that can fed to an optimizer because the variable demand for a product means that not only do you need to consider multiple bids from multiple suppliers and multiple lanes, but buying certain products from certain suppliers for low demand locales could result in a lot of LTL shipments that will significantly increase transportation costs and buying products that will need to be shipped great distances for repairs or warranty claims will also drastically increase TCO.

The BravoSolution Business Center Solution for Retail allows the sourcing organization to define all of it’s distribution centres, all of its stores, the stores served by each DC, markets, the markets served by each store, the warehouses for each supplier, and the DCs that the supplier warehouses are able to serve. It also allows the sourcing organization to define all of the items that it buys, all of the supplier products, the mapping from supplier products to buyer items, categories for its items, and categories for the supplier items. All of the distribution centres, stores, warehouses, items, products, and categories can be uploaded from an (Excel) datafile, and so can starting prices.

It also allows for the easy definition of a very sophisticated discount model that can capture any convoluted discount the supplier can come up with. In addition to the standard volume rebate by product, volume rebate by spend, volume rebate by category, volume rebate by category spend, and volume rebate by supplier spend, suppliers will often offer new store discounts, co-op discounts, payment discounts, EDI discounts, in-store promotion discounts, defective discounts, and cross-product discounts where a discount will be offered on X for every unit of Y purchased. The workflow, and interface, is set up to allow for easy capture of any, and all, of these discounts.

The workflow also allows for the definition of (additional) item attributes which can be used in qualitative constraints in the optimization model, which will allow a sourcing professional to create models which will only include eco-certified items, validated suppliers, etc. in the award. It also supports price targets, so that a buyer can determine the impact of a proposed price decrease in an optimization model and use this information in fact-based negotiations.

Once all of the stores, distribution centers, warehouses, items, products, and categories are in the system, project definition is extremely easy and, as with MRO, the sourcing specialist is walked through the project which starts by identifying the categories being sourced, verifying the dc-store structure, uploading the projected demand, selecting the suppliers, verifying the supplier-warehouse buyer-distribution center and supplier-product buyer-item mappings, defining any bidding requirements the supplier has to meet, sending out the RFX, verifying the responses, and pushing the responses into multiple pre-defined optimization models, which will include base-line and incumbent models. The sourcing specialist can then create additional what-if models, including what-if models on target pricing, go back to the suppliers for a subsequent bid round, and continue the optimization (and bid-rounds) until the specialist is ready to make an award (and push the award into the contract management module).

As with MRO, the Business Center for Retail is optimized to make sourcing, and re-sourcing, of all of the retailer’s categories as easy and painless as possible so that, if needed, less critical categories can be driven by a junior buyer (under the guidane of a senior buyer) and free up the senior buyer to focus on the high-value and strategic categories. In addition, BravoSolution‘s Global Team has the experience to get this solution up and running for even the largest of retailers in a matter of weeks. It’s a quick way for a large retailer to start advanced sourcing and get it’s costs under control.