The move forms part of the retailer’s wide ranging “programme of re-platforming” which it hopes will cut operational costs boosting margins in the cut-throat grocery retailing market.
The Alerts and Resolution Management software, which was jointly specified by Sainsbury’s and a group of key suppliers and developed by software firm Eqos and consultancy Accenture, will eventually be used by all of the retailer’s 2,000 suppliers.
The software, which is based on Microsoft .Net technology, will improve supplier relations and efficiency, said Diane Carter, supply chain operations director at Sainsbury’s.
“We believe this new investment will help us work with them more effectively, irrespective of their size, and enable us to be more responsive to customer demand through jointly identifying problems earlier and being able to proactively manage issues through to resolution,” she said.
The software will manage the progress and performance of all products, not just the more problematic categories such as new products and promotions, Carter said. Product performance data will be integrated with exception reports and alerts flagging up anomalies, which depending on the need and scale, will be managed either as a collaborative or an informational alert, she said.
Suppliers will also be able to download information on a range of performance metrics including their sales, stock levels and range, Carter added.
The Sainsbury’s implementation reflects the increasing trend towards collaboration between retailers and their suppliers, said Chris Tyas, supply chain director at confectionary manufacturer Nestle.
"We have achieved a lot through collaborative working in recent years, with significant benefits to both parties,” he said. “In particular, we have seen improved availability, better sales and better stock management leading to fresher product for the consumer and less stock write downs.”