Vendor management case study


Today’s supply chains are complex. Variety and convenience are key for today’s consumers. In order to deliver these desires, retailers are required to carry more skus from multiple vendors. 

When working with numerous vendors or suppliers, a lack of standardized vendor management inhibits a retailer from optimizing the value of their portfolio and effectively managing risk in certain situations. 

“87% of survey respondents said they encountered disruption with third parties in the last two to three years, with 28% reporting a major disruption due to 3rd party failure.” – Deloitte Effective third party risk management - Exploring strategies to improve contract management ( (just write Deloitte and then link this one word)

So how can you ensure you are managing your suppliers accurately and effectively to bring overall efficiency to your supply chain? Here is how we’ve been able to help customers manage supply with our experienced account managers.

First, let’s review exactly what vendor management is – it seems elementary, but level setting always helps to understand need states and establish objectives. 

Vendor management takes place at all points of the supply chain. The earliest phase is researching and sourcing vendors, obtaining quotes with pricing, capabilities, timelines and negotiating contracts. After the supplier selection process is concluded however, supplier or vendor management is ongoing. Managing, administering, and guiding product and service vendors through a systematized approach to drive supplier behavior helps drive better outcomes. A robust vendor management process can streamline logistics and drive benefits for both parties – vendors and retailers.      

So what are vendor management best practices? We’ve established 4 primary objectives that our experts focus on when providing vendor management services to customers.


Establishment of the business goal 

Identifying your business goals and requirements allows you to expand your potential vendor base intentionally. Identifying gaps in your vendor base will allow your business to improve the way it operates – avoiding duplicate services that are already being delivered across your network. 

Share information and priorities with vendors so they can assist in supporting your operations appropriately. Continuous communication ensures both parties are the same page, and if issues occur, you can more clearly and concisely point out how these challenges are not fitting within your objectives.  


Selecting the right vendors

There are several components to selecting a vendor. Procurement is the practice of researching and obtaining products or services for your operational needs. It’s the first, and maybe the most important piece of vendor management. If you find aligned vendors, the rest of the journey becomes much easier. 

To successfully source vendors, our experts focus on identifying need, requesting the purchase, reviewing the request, assessing vendors, and negotiating with vendors based on market knowledge and experience. 

As a member of the fresh food industry for over a century, we have expertise and experience in the market and the historical data to align with the process of vendor selection. 

We help customers answer the questions of, how much money do they want to invest in a new relationship, how quickly can a vendor deliver goods, is this vendor compliant with market requirements, what is the vendor reputation in the marketplace? All these areas of consideration should be weighed and answered during the selection process. 


Managing the vendor 

While you are working with a vendor, you’ll want to monitor their performance, consistently and accurately. From keeping track of their activity and updates, to making sure they continue to align with your business objectives, monitoring performance across the board helps you ensure your vendors remain reliable partners in your supply chain. 

Considering vendor performance will also help you make informed decisions about who to work with now and into the future. Having a management tool in place to consistently monitor vendor performance is critical in ensuring this visibility. 

Market leading companies use trusted providers to help them manage vendors via technology and data management tools. 

The current state of vendor management that relies on ad hoc tools for tracking performance are fractured and usually very limited in capabilities. 

Our Robinson Fresh vendor management experts utilize proprietary technology, build by and for supply chain experts to manage contracts, and collect, store, and analyze vendor performance over time.

Beyond technology, we go one step further by analyzing this vendor data on our end and providing detailed recommendations regarding vendor portfolio optimization

Automated vendor management tools – plus expert oversight, creates a centralized and streamlined communication process that saves you time and money, not only in the vendor management phase, but also across your network.

Vendor visibility  

As supported by the content above, visibility in vendor management is critical for success. Not only does visibility help generate performance analysis opportunities, but it also helps to uncover potential risks associated with regulations, controls, and accountability. Poor vendor visibility can cause several potential challenges:

  • Highly manual, costly performance tracking

  • No ability to manage vendor risks

  • Decisions driven by intuition vs data

  • Siloed vendor relationship management creating duplication Inconsistent or nonexistent supplier compliance tracking


The Robinson Fresh solution

We know the fresh food industry and the logistics needed to be successful in fresh. It’s what we’ve been doing for over a century. Our customers work with us to not only source and implement new, vetted vendors based on business needs, but we also track and analyze vendor performance and trends over time, in real time.  

Customers who utilize vendor management services from Robinson Fresh are typically able to significantly increase vendor performance and reduce costs. Customers can also plug into our vast product distribution network of vendors to create customized supply chain solutions.