Working together in New Ways
Drug Store News recently interviewed Wegman’s Marianne Timmons and Coca-Cola’s Ann Dozier, vice president of collaborative customer capabilities of North America retail sales, and Andrew Dragonetti, account executive, to talk about how to implement the Global Commerce Initiative: New Ways of Working Together, a white paper that outlines a vision for how retailers and vendors do business.
Drug Store News: What have you done or plan to do to implement some of the key learnings from the New Ways of Working Together document at your company?
Marianne Timmons: New Ways of Working Together at Wegmans has taken the four pillars of New Ways—focus on the consumer, connect your common information, prepare your people and share supply chains—and we’ve approached five of our key suppliers on it. We had a conversation with them on those four pillars, as well as four best practices—aligning our resources in a diamond versus the butterfly organizational structure, sharing common goals and common measures, getting focused on the meaningful few business initiatives and then planning our business better.
We’ve asked our suppliers…what are the meaningful few things that we can focus on as partners that will…help us, most importantly, improve our customer service.
DrSN: A diamond versus butterfly organizational structure, can you explain that?
Timmons: In traditional retailer/supplier relationships, all communication has historically been funneled through the sales and buying functions. So, for example, if I had a problem with the quality of pallets coming into Wegmans from Coca-Cola, in the old days I would speak to our buyer, who would reach out to Andy, and then Andy would go back into his organization and find the right person. That was the case for anything that might come up, all the way from bad pallets to quality problems to financial accounting problems.
With the diamond, we believe in empowering the people across the different functional areas in each organization to handle the business, to handle the disruption, to work together on the topics that they’re the experts on, whether it’s IT, accounting, distribution; keep the experts aligned so sales and merchandising people aren’t fighting fires or dealing with disruptions that they really don’t need to understand.
DrSN: That sounds pretty intimidating—relinquishing control over what many would consider to be their key accounts.
Ann Dozier: Let me add to Marianne’s comments from the Coca-Cola perspective. We view New Ways of Working Together as a framework that allows us to move to the next level of collaboration with our retail partners. In order to do that, we need to focus our efforts on future growth and not past problems.… By aligning people in IT, in marketing, in finance and in supply chain, those people can work through the day-to-day operational issues of the business and report on those issues through agreed-upon measures.
DrSN: Is New Ways more appropriate for larger suppliers, or equally appropriate for small-tier or mid-tier companies?
Timmons: It’s appropriate for those suppliers who you want to be most closely aligned. Smuckers is a good example.… They were the first supplier we worked with. I think its more about what you’re trying to accomplish with your business partners than the size of the supplier. But we know we’re not going to be able to do this with everybody.… We’re thinking we’ll probably be able to do this with 20 or 25 suppliers when all is said and done.
DrSN: What are some of the strategic initiatives borne out of New Ways between Coke and Wegmans?
Andrew Dragonetti: We looked at a number of strategic initiatives for our engagement. Joint planning was one that’s really focused on category development opportunities essential to advancing the business…and to best satisfy consumers.
We also included item synchronization and data-accuracy—these processes really involve connecting our businesses electronically which helps to eliminate common disruptions to allow us to continue to focus on growing our sales.
In addition we added a few other initiatives to our engagement, including Shopper Segmented Merchandising. The focus with this initiative is to really analyze shopper data, focus on consumer needs, and based on those consumer needs, develop store specific shopper segmentation.
Another final strategic initiative was collaborative ordering. This was a test that we implemented where we shared data using a new tool to see if we can generate better orders for the stores so that we could be more customer focused as well.
DrSN: When you’re developing these strategic initiatives, is there any fear the vendor will implement those best practices with other trade partners?
Timmons: From a Wegmans perspective, we go into this making sure that our suppliers know that we will be very focused and we will keep confidences through the duration of the pilot, but everything that we do together, we intend to learn about and expand to the whole of our business.… It’s not about improving Coke or Wegmans specifically, it’s about doing that, yes, but more importantly impacting the bigger picture.
DrSN: Is there any trepidation in jumping into something like New Ways with both feet? If so, how do you overcome that?
Dozier: This has to start with a commitment to this framework from the top of the organization and the willingness to change. The one thing many think when they first look at the framework is, “Wow, this is really obvious.” Because when looking at the opportunities on the page, one could easily say, “I’m doing this and I’m doing that and I’m doing this as well, so what does this really bring to me and my relationship with my customer that’s different from what I do today?”
Well, in reality when we review the framework as partners, discuss our strategies and values, and openly identify opportunities, we learn a lot of things that we didn’t already know.
Walgreens donates food, supplies as new storms target Gulf, Southeast
DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens has sent truckloads of food, water and emergency supplies to Baton Rouge, La., to aid with continuing Hurricane Gustav relief efforts.
Among the necessities shipped to hard-hit residents: water, trail mix, granola bars and other snack items, along with infant formula and diapers. Walgreens reports it is also gathering supplies to place on standby for a swift response to new emergency requests across the nation’s southeast coast with the expected arrival of Tropical Storm Hanna this weekend and Hurricane Ike next week.
“We’ll direct critical resources to communities in need,” said Walgreens director of community affairs John Gremer. “We’re on alert, and we’ll be ready to help wherever we can.”
The company notes there is still “tremendous need in many Baton Rouge communities,” which were among the hardest hit by Gustav. “Thousands remain without electricity, and food and water are still in high demand,” the company reports.
Another priority is getting any stores that were closed due to the storm back open quickly, according to the chain. As of Friday morning, Walgreens reported, “all but one of Walgreens’ 15 Baton Rouge stores are open. Across the Gulf Coast region, only nine remain closed down from 69 closed immediately following the storm.”
Rite Aid donates $44,500-plus in supplies for Gustav evacuees
CAMP HILL, Pa. To further assist evacuees of Hurricane Gustav, The Rite Aid Foundation is donating more than $44,500 worth of supplies including water, snacks, sunscreen, hand sanitizer and other personal hygiene products as requested by the Louisiana Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross to be distributed at shelters for evacuees, the Foundation announced Friday
“Throughout the Gulf Coast, widespread flooding and violent wind damage have created an urgent need for disaster support,” stated Jeff Towers, chief development officer at the American Red Cross. “Rite Aid generously responded to this need through in-kind and financial support to help the Red Cross provide food, shelter and counseling to Gulf Coast communities during this hurricane season.”
Earlier this week, The Rite Aid Foundation made a $75,000 donation to the American Red Cross to help the victims, families and communities affected by Hurricane Gustav in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. A relief team of Rite Aid associates, including store cashiers and pharmacists, have traveled from Tennessee and unaffected areas of Louisiana and Alabama to help stores that have been impacted and to help reopen additional stores.
“One of Rite Aid’s core values is to be caring neighbors in the communities we serve, and we are happy to work with the American Red Cross to help the evacuees of Hurricane Gustav,” commented Mike Seesholtz, Rite Aid regional vice president for Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. “Our associates have been amazing in their commitment to do whatever they can to help the victims of Hurricane Gustav.”
Residents displaced by the hurricane can visit any open Rite Aid for their prescriptions because the company’s satellite-linked computer network assures a complete customer prescription history at any Rite Aid store. Because of the state of emergency, Rite Aid pharmacies also can access prescription information for patients who do not normally get their prescriptions at Rite Aid.