It’s much too early to gauge the impact The Pro Group’s “virtual distribution” model with Panasonic will have on its members but we have to believe it’s a strong start to improving forecasts, tightening the supply chain, decreasing inventory and improving overall communications between the vendor and independent dealers.
In a nutshell, the program calls for Panasonic to tie the participating retailers’ point-of-sale systems into the vendor’s Collaborative Planning, Forecasting and Replenishment system. One of the most important pieces of the program, however, seems to be the dedicated sales rep Panasonic will assign to each account, providing the human contact and one-on-one consulting that no electronic system can replace. Retailers constantly tell us they do the most business with the vendors that provide them with a trusted, readily available single point of contact. There’s no reason Panasonic shouldn’t see the same results if the program is executed with all the right pieces in place.
Retailers at The Pro Group’s Spring Meeting, where the announcement was made, supported the concept but said they had to see the program in action until giving it their full approval. Cautious optimism is fine as long as retailers realize they have to put as much or more into these types of programs as the vendor and buying group.