What makes the collaboration between purchasing and marketing challenging?
Every department contributes to the business process and is, therefore, ‘indispensable’. When we zoom in on e-commerce, purchasing and marketing are essential for the success of your business. Both purchasing and marketing play an important role in improving the brand, driving demand and ensuring that your stock adequately supports that demand. However, good collaboration between these two teams does not always occur naturally. Especially in small and growing businesses, there is often no defined process for how the teams should interact and feed into each other or even an understanding of how important this is.
Initially, they often work to different timelines. Purchasing may need to plan for a more extended period, whereas marketing blends this with shorter-term goals such as last-minute promotions. Secondly, there may be an information gap between teams or a lack of guidance on how to share information. Finally, both often work in different systems and with their own metrics. Purchasing and marketing do not realise they need each other to achieve their shared business goals.
Why is it important for purchasing and marketing to work together?
Within your company, every department contributes expertise aimed at achieving the company’s goals. The problem in many growing businesses is that the distance between teams gradually grows. This silo-based thinking makes it harder to share knowledge across departments. Especially in the cases of purchasing and marketing, this is a missed opportunity as their collaboration is the link between the demand and supply sides of operations. Collaboration means that marketing efforts can be targeted on products that are in stock or plentiful supply and that as a business you can deliver the products being actively marketed. It can also answer enhance basic data, for example, the question of whether a spike in sales is due to a marketing push or from organic increased demand.
If you gain insight into the performance of your products and your purchasing decisions, for example, with a data-driven purchasing tool, you have the basis to start a constructive conversation. Data will tell you which products move quickly and which move slowly. That will help to structure your marketing actions accordingly. Secondly, the data-driven approach makes excess stock visible to your marketing team, meaning they can take the lead in offering specific products on different channels or adjusting the prices. Thirdly, in the case of understock, the potential danger of stockouts or lost sales, they can redirect demand to protect the customer experience.
5 ways to improve the collaboration between purchasing and marketing
Collaboration between purchasing and marketing will take some effort before it becomes ingrained. The following five ways can improve this collaboration in a sustainable way.
1. Standardise processes and data sharing tools
Make it easier for your employees to exchange information and interact. Try to create and document company-wide and standardised processes for transferring information. Teams will still work in different ways and systems but sharing data between teams will be more regular and formalised. Data repositories should be set up that are accessible to all.
2. Use data to show the crossover between departments
Use the knowledge of a data-driven purchasing tool in your favour. With data that gives you insight into the performance of your stock, your forecasts will get better. This information can help your marketers to plan promotions and campaigns. Decide together on the products you want to push, in which season and by which pricing strategy.
3. Present data in a clear and meaningful way
Make data presentable, for example, in a dashboard. As per point one, you will ideally have a system that allows you to have shared access across multiple departments/ locations. Data should also be presented in a way that makes it easier to start a conversation and clearly identify and track cross-team actions and owners.
4. Schedule regular meetings
If your purchasing and marketing manager schedule regular meetings to exchange views and plan for the coming seasons this will become a natural part of your business cycle.
5. Use automation to let purchasers focus on their strategic tasks
Automation can take over replenishment to allow purchasers to focus on their strategic tasks, such as driving cross-team collaboration via the first four points. Use automation to facilitate the conversations and add value by using human input from other teams to filter out the exceptions.
What are the results of better collaboration between purchasing and marketing?
With structured and continued cooperation between purchasing and marketing, you can link supply chain data with customer demand data. A data-driven purchasing tool will allow your teams to have an informed conversation and set clear goals and targets. Purchasing will be able to ask marketing what the results of a campaign were and marketing can question why certain products are understocked or purchased at a low margin.
Using a data-driven AI tool such as Optiply offers will give your input in the shared conversations more weight. Collaborative working makes it easier to plan and adjust the plan on time when needed. You will have fewer battles between departments, help your business to abandon silo-based thinking and grow sustainably to meet customer demand.