E-READINESS STUDY CITES NEED FOR COLLABORATION

WASHINGTON -- Business-to-business e-commerce won't succeed without collaboration between manufacturers and retailers, according to a new study.initiatives, according to the study, conducted by Roland Berger & Partner for the Grocery Manufacturers of America here. "Clearly, there are areas in which manufacturers and distributors can benefit from increased sharing of information and better collaboration,"

WASHINGTON -- Business-to-business e-commerce won't succeed without collaboration between manufacturers and retailers, according to a new study.

initiatives, according to the study, conducted by Roland Berger & Partner for the Grocery Manufacturers of America here. "Clearly, there are areas in which manufacturers and distributors can benefit from increased sharing of information and better collaboration," said Mark Baum, executive vice president, GMA. "This study provides a strong starting point in understanding some of the current barriers to B2B e-commerce and moving forward with practical solutions that work for manufacturers and their customers."

Along with partner collaboration, the study cites data synchronization and a lack of operation experience as industry challenges. Cost price management, order management and, for direct-store-delivery companies, payment management were rated as high priorities for both retailers and manufacturers. Collaborative business processes -- such as forecasting, replenishment, promotion management -- were high priorities for manufacturers, but were still in the "planning" phase.

Called the first and largest study of its kind to explore what B2B business processes are top priorities for retailers and manufacturers, the report is based on interviews with more than 200 executives and managers from retailer, wholesaler, broker and manufacturer organizations.

The study also examined when e-commerce capabilities will be ready to implement; how companies are planning to use Internet exchanges; and where the largest opportunities exist for manufacturers and retailers to work together.

Among the highlights:

Fifty-one percent of retailers said they planned to connect electronically with suppliers through public B2B Internet exchanges and one-to-one solutions. Ten percent of retailers said they would consider using another consortium-led Internet exchange.

Sixty-eight percent of manufacturers said they would use public B2B Internet exchanges. While manufacturers said their primary exchange is Transora, 63% said they would use multiple exchanges to connect with retailers.

The greatest IT challenges for retailers are linking different data repositories and working with one updated product database.

Retailers almost universally agreed that item management is the most important business processes to be addressed by B2B e-commerce.

Manufacturers have allocated budgets to build e-commerce capabilities.

Retailers are committed to e-readiness, but are still in the planning phase.