As an example of how retailers and their suppliers might address some portion of this challenge, Mitchell-Keller suggests that the two parties could work together more closely on pricing and promotions management to better manage the behavior of consumers hooked on sales and discounts. Scott Langdoc, a vice president for research with AMR Research, has pointed to the need for greater use of what he calls lifecycle retail price management (LRPM) software — offered by such solution providers as Manugistics, KhiMetrics and DemandTec, as well as IRI, KSS, SoftSolutions and i2 Technologies — as "a critical component of any retailer's profitable differentiation strategy."
But Mitchell-Keller cautions that just having the right tool in place at either the retailer or the supplier is not enough, and she warns of the danger of "clobberation," a term that she says a colleague at Manugistics uses to describe situations in which a "channel master" uses its 800-pound-gorilla status to force its own terms and conditions on its trading partners. A retailer may achieve some level of benefit by throwing massive amounts of POS data "over the wall" and mandating that suppliers run the data through an analytical tool to ensure high in-stock levels. However, the retailers and suppliers would be better served by creating a collaborative work process to reach a shared understanding of what the data mean. "It's not just a matter of one portion of the supply chain having the data and one portion of the supply chain having the tools. It really is a matter of the extended network using those tools and the data in combination," Mitchell-Keller concludes.