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Why Faster Contracting Is Key to Keeping Shelves Stocked This Holiday Season

By Phil Barry

The news is full of stories warning that ongoing supply disruptions could negatively affect the traditionally busy holiday sales period. Factories aren't operating at capacity. There aren't enough shipping containers. Ports are backed up or sitting idle. Labor shortages in long-haul trucking mean product transportation is a challenge.

Retailers believe that part of their strategy in dealing with supply chain disruptions and delays must be to source new suppliers when current suppliers can't deliver what they need. Businesses are now scrambling not only for products but also to get suppliers set up and onboarded faster as the holiday shopping season looms.

The situation is rife with risk, with the industry full of stories of retailers forced to choose between compliance and speed when getting new (and sometimes unvetted) suppliers under contract. However, when looking for solutions, retailers often overlook a crucial element in the supplier onboarding process– the contract itself.

Contracts govern supply chain relationships and everything that flows through them. Cumbersome contract processes slow down supplier onboarding, burning time through long review and approval cycles, negotiation rounds, and signature gathering. Meanwhile, without adequate visibility, companies might not have proper controls over who they're entering into contracts with, injecting risk across the organization.

Yet retailers often don't grasp contracts’ central role in operations. Rather, contract-related questions revolve around products and financials, which misses the operational agility and protection—including protecting the business from supply chain disruptions—that comes with having a simple and easy way of managing contracts.

Thankfully, there's a better way. By digitally transforming contract processes, contracts can be turned into strategic advantage, delivering a faster, more agile supply chain that provides the proper controls for retailers to manage risk.

Contract management software takes contracts out of email and shared folders and onto a unified platform so retailers can digitally manage them and achieve significant velocity in business.

Using templates and standardized clause libraries, contract lifecycle management (CLM) software enables retailers to seamlessly manage the creation, negotiation, signature, renewal, and data analysis of supplier contracts.

From a retail perspective, this means being able to onboard new suppliers faster without the delays related to hunting down legal and finance for contract approvals. Just how much faster? Icertis customers have accelerated contract turnaround time by as much as 92% using the Icertis Contract Intelligence (ICI) platform.

At the same time, automated supplier credit checks mean retailers can detect risk early and mitigate it. Amid the holiday crush, CLM can provide a layer of orchestration and compliance to retailers who need to respond immediately to every risk and opportunity.

The next two months are critical to retailers hitting their numbers, and they can only do so if they have the products their customers want. The winners will be those companies that inject speed and agility into the core of their business processes—and eliminate process roadblocks. With every supplier relationship defined by a contract, these agreements can either be part of the solution … or a big part of the problem.

Want to learn more about Icertis’ solutions for Retail? Visit our Retail page.