Multi-channel retailing has serious implications for quality of FMCG staff, says Bridgethorne


The fragmentation of the grocery retail landscape across multiple channels is placing a strain on food and non-food FMCG suppliers to recruit account management professionals capable of creating and sustaining strategic rather than purely transactional relationships with retailers.

That, according to customer, category and shopper management specialist Bridgethorne, is being brought about by an increasingly competitive retail sector in which time stretched buyers at multiples are expecting and demanding more from their suppliers.

“Aside from the top tier suppliers, it is concerning the number of companies that don’t recognise the way in which these relationships are changing,” said John Nevens, co-founder of Bridgethorne.

“Today, if your account managers are unable to talk about all the strategic aspects of the entire commercial landscape, from shopper understanding to category strategy, then your company’s relationship with its retailers will only ever be transactional and your prospects only as good as your price and promotion. If you want to be taken seriously and have a strategic relationship, then your account managers need to know and understand about insight and the changing consumer, shopper and category dynamics across all retail channels and be able to articulate it within an integrated multi-channel planning process.”

But, says, Nevens too many suppliers have account management staff without the breadth of skills required in modern FMCG retailing.

“Many retailers want to take complexity out of their supply chains, to cut down on their number of suppliers and focus on those who can innovate and inform. They would like a narrower not a broader supplier base. So suppliers need a more sophisticated type of account manager who can help them secure a competitive advantage. Those that have account managers who are simply operating with a 20thcentury mindset in a 21st retail sector are going to be left behind.”

As a business Bridgethorne provides interim and outsourced national account management services on flexible assignments from three months upwards through a network of professional national account managers. They can work with in-house teams to directly manage a retail sales portfolio including branded and own label business on behalf of suppliers, helping them to unlock data and find and apply insight to achieve an immediate business impact.