ASX-listed Metcash, which powers retail brands like IGA and Mitre 10, is in the process of raising the role technology plays in the organisation from a purely operational focus to one that could help suppliers and retailers collaborate.
Chief information officer David Reeve told Salesforce Live for Retail & Consumer that technology already underpinned the company’s operations, but could be used to do more.
“Until recently, it's been very much focused on those operational aspects of the organisation and not so much in how we actually engage with our retailers, with our shoppers and with our suppliers,” Reeve said.
“That's really what we're seeking to do now is change how we use technology to become a much more connected and agile organisation.”
Suppliers to Metcash’s retailers are the first to see the technology changes with the launch of the MetConnect portal, which is built atop Salesforce.
MetConnect came about because a supplier might deal with several parts of Metcash independently of the other, and there was no central view of that engagement.
“We realised we were having a lot of conversations that weren't as coordinated as they should be, so we started on a journey of trying to understand all of the parts of the organisation that were actually talking to suppliers,” Reeve said.
“Through that, we drew up a map that led us to understand the complexity of what was actually going on, and we've now started on a journey to use the Salesforce platform to really get us to a better place.”
MetConnect brings all communications, paperwork and other information together in a single place.
It acts as a single point of contact for over 2000 suppliers into Metcash.
“It provides them with essential information but also … with a way in to discuss issues, to raise concerns, and to self-serve on a lot of the things that we currently make quite difficult for them,” Reeve said.
“We still have a lot of paper forms that we send to suppliers and we expect them to fill in, so one of the first things we intend to do is get rid of all of those.
“We also want to make it really easy for suppliers to update information, to express interest in dealing with us in new and different ways, and to allow them to manage a lot of the relationship for themselves - but for us to be able to ensure that we're giving them the latest information that they need to be able to do that.”
While there had been internal concerns that suppliers would not use the portal, these had turned out to be unfounded.
“They're happily embracing the platform, and they're giving us more ideas about what they want to use it for, which is now informing where we're going on this roadmap,” Reeve said.
“Over the span of this year, we'll be enriching that platform and starting to release new, deeper functions that will allow them to manage their own relationship, manage a lot of their own information, but also get information from us in a timely manner.”
Reeve said the same model could also be applied to other groups that Metcash interact with, such as its retailers, and potentially even shoppers of its respective brands.
“We want to build the same community that we're building with our suppliers, with our retailers and make that communication seamless as well,” Reeve said.
“In fact, we actually want to start connecting those two communities, so that what our retailers are doing can actually inform our conversations with our suppliers, and what our suppliers are doing can inform our conversations with our retailers.”