FMCG suppliers able to develop strategic joint business plans that inspire commitment from retail partners are the ones that will be best placed to succeed over the next few years.

Bridgethorne Training Academy, which delivers Key Account Management, Category and Shopper capability development programmes, says suppliers should consider why retail partners would want to sign up to a joint business plan with them and what that plan could encompass in each case.

“The evidence is clear,” explains Paul Weiss, Bridgethorne Training Academy’s Director of Capability Development. “The McKinsey Customer & Channel Management Survey said that leading customer organisations that made the right bets for growth, built better capabilities and collaborated more effectively with their top retail customers emerged from the economic storm better and stronger than their peers and enjoyed share gains, growth and margin expansion. Suppliers need to heed that advice and start looking at how to develop joint business plans with their retailers.”

Successful joint business plans, continued Weiss, will include initiatives to drive category and brand growth, based on solid shopper insight; a way of tracking operational performance and shelf availability, and ways in which the brand and the retailer can collaborate on best in class events and activities, both in and out of store.

“Joint Business Planning is not a guarantee of investment or profit, it’s not the end of negotiations with your retail customer – there will always be challenges – and it should certainly be a continuous process rather than an annual event,” continues Weiss.

“But it should be focused on joint creation and ownership of activity to deliver something that makes a genuine difference to both brand and retailer performance.”

Bridgethorne Training Academy offers a series of workshops to help suppliers

understand the principles and structure of joint business plans: to understand the development process; how to engage with retailers; how to create an outline joint business plan for specific customers and categories, as well as how to plan initial retailer engagement.

“It’s important when you consider a joint business plan that you understand the retailer’s business and needs as well as your own, so that the collaborative partnership is working from a genuinely shared agenda with co-developed initiatives.”

“The other keys to success are knowing the right customers with which to approach a joint business plan; having a clearly defined process that is genuinely collaborative; building in timing that allows effective implementation from both the supplier and retailer’s perspective and having the resource, capability and customer relationships in place to make the process work.”

Bridgethorne Training Academy delivers interactive, practical training and development based on real-life scenarios, run using proven techniques by experienced practitioners and trainers, which can be applied immediately in a business, to build both individual and organisational capability.