Retail Link – How Does It Help?

Learn all about:

  • What Retail Link is and who can use it
  • The challenges of Retail Link
  • What reports and tools Retail Link has to offer

Are you a supplier for Walmart who is looking for a central repository for the information, documents, reports, and special applications to manage your business with Walmart? Retail Link provides you all this.

Retail Link is also a way Walmart monitors its suppliers. It gives suppliers increased control and freedom.

With Retail Link, suppliers can handle their own products by tracking their supplier data, involving sales and inventory volume, percentage of stock, trade margin, and inventory turnover. Consequently, they can reduce their inventory risk and related expenditure.

Previously, suppliers had little insight into how their own products performed. Data related to demography about customers in certain communities was not easily accessible for suppliers. Research and purchasing market intelligence were costly affairs and smaller enterprises could not access data using which bigger businesses made data-determined decisions.

Let us try to find out how Retail Link made a big difference.

For suppliers who are doing or have done business with Walmart, Retail Link is not a new concept. Actually, one can practically not do business at scale without using Retail Link. Simply put, Walmart lets suppliers access all the data for their SKUs and also makes them responsible for their management.

Retail Link Apps
Retail Link Apps

Walmart uses the Retail Link to provide suppliers all information about their sales through data via SKU, per hour and per store. 

SKU Structure
SKU Structure

Through Retail Link, Walmart essentially gives suppliers all of their sell-through data by SKU, hour-wise and store-wise. They also give vendors inventory by SKU as well as gross margin realized, inventory turns, in-stock percentage, and, above all, the metric of Gross Margin Return on Investment (GMROI). In essence, Walmart has built a vendor-run inventory system in which the supplier can decide the placing of SKUs and delivery to stores. 

This is one factor behind Walmart’s profits, due to their ability to leverage data so that every partner is driven to maximize margins with the least inventory, to achieve maximum GMROI.

Although Retail Link is an amazing tool, working with it can be tricky because of the following issues:

  • Complex navigation
  • Not easy to learn
  • Hard to identify the right data
  • Near infinite reporting options

A user is required to browse through the system, search for the right data, download it, and then prepare an actionable report. This is tedious, more so if there are many other retail customers are providing the same data. 

Reports, metrics, insights - all in one place

Retail Link had a small beginning by just helping out with the inventory. In 2013, it underwent a transformation and became the Retail Link that Walmart suppliers use now. Every vendor, no matter how small,  can access data that could only be accessed by large companies once upon a time. This means that small enterprises can reach out to the same extensive SKU data that larger brands can. 

Brands now are at the advantage of having the right amount of inventory on hand. This eliminates the problem of over-buying. Low inventory costs lower expenses. The saved amount can be utilized for research and development, marketing, or emerging technologies. Retail Link gives suppliers new ways to grow their businesses, something that would not have been otherwise possible.

More Than Just What Was Sold

When Walmart unveiled Retail Link more than 20 years ago, the aim was to help inventory and supply chain management. The latest version provides knowledge on climate conditions and forecast of 52-week sales. The new technology can have an enormous impact on both small and large businesses. If a company can forecast climatic conditions, it is in a position to make a specific product available on demand. 

Besides, it can also make customer service available. If there is a disastrous storm expected, the priority of businesses would be to establish shipping alternatives. Armed with this data, brands can be ahead of the curve rather than responsive.

Retail Link’s projections are not as short-lived as climatic conditions. Its projections help in managing inventory. Its sale projections can also show regions where there is a probability of adding a new or complementary product to the already existing supply. This data can help brands be proactive, in terms of their variety. 

Data assembled through peak sale season is an indicator of the products that were successful which may not be profitable year-round. Retail Link has a lot of weight when it comes to assisting sellers with inventory and assortment plans.

Manage Transportation and Track Orders

Retail Link is also a centralized location for assessing supplier transportation needs, as well as OTIF compliance. Within Retail Link, suppliers can schedule an order pickup, view the OTIF scorecard, and utilize the “Where’s My Stuff” app, which tracks orders in real-time. Sam’s Club online suppliers can even track SamsClub.com orders, allowing them to fulfill or cancel online orders.

Additionally, suppliers can access logistical tools, such as transit time queries, routing status, notifications of late pickup, and shippoint information. These tools help ensure OTIF compliance, as well as open communication along the supply chain.

Further, suppliers can view purchase orders and import orders from Walmart, including PO revisions (both domestic and import). Suppliers even have access to their WebEDI, displaying all relevant documents to orders.

Merchandising

Retail Link offers many apps to help suppliers better merchandise their goods, be it online, in stores, or at Sam’s Club. Suppliers can also access their Store Within a Store (SWAS) report, containing merchandise hierarchies and marketing opportunities.

Suppliers can also view modular planning tools, including layout and shelving options in order to better display products in stores and maximize sales. Additionally, there is an app that does an analysis of cost change scenarios, displaying reports on what may happen should a supplier increase or decrease the price of its merchandise.

Of course, there are also tools for removing products from Walmart stores and online, changing product categories, and managing payment options (such as Flexible Spending Account eligibility). 

As you can see, Retail Link is a beast. We at SupplyPike aim to tame that beast. We have created Retail Intelligence, a tool that pulls data directly from Retail Link’s database and uses it to create beautiful and intuitive metrics that are easy to report and digest.

Walmart Product Overview
Walmart Product Overview

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Updated on August 10, 2020

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