Finding the Right ICP Partner

By: Chrys Tarvin and Steve Forsyth

Ok, so you have realized that making the conversion to an inbound consolidation program (ICP) is the right move for you. You already know about the substantial savings you will likely enjoy thanks to a more consolidated and efficient flow of products into your network. You are looking forward to greater supply chain sustainability and compliance. You have your eye on the prize…but now what? How do you get started?

While the benefits of an inbound consolidation conversion are unquestionable, many organizations may hesitate to switch due to the seemingly complicated nature of making the initial conversion. Many of your suppliers may need to be converted from existing prepaid freight terms to new collect & allowed terms. This requires careful analysis of current and future conditions in order to calculate the most favorable terms under the new system. Further, making such a conversion will likely require entire manuals worth of new shipping and supplier procedures. Keeping all of your partners and participants on the same page can seem like a daunting task for any organization.

Fortunately, you don’t need to attempt this process alone. In fact, if you really want to maximize the return on your ICP conversion, you shouldn’t do this alone! Finding a highly-qualified and experienced inbound consolidation conversion partner will take your conversion from chaos to confidence.

The ideal ICP conversion partners will bring a variety of things to the table. Perhaps most obviously, a good partner will bring strategy built from extensive experience. While this is probably your first experience in converting a large scale retail or manufacturing supply chain into an inbound consolidation model, your perfect ICP partners have done this before. In fact, they will likely have done this several times before. They have experienced the specific problems and successes inherent to ICP conversions and are already thinking ahead to the potential speed bumps on your road. Their wealth of experience will enable them to create an ideal strategy for your organization while also helping you to minimize, or even avoid, many of the pitfalls that can arise during an ICP conversion.

Beyond experience, however, there are many other things a strong inbound consolidation partner can provide to your conversion. For example, your inbound consolidation consultant should bring with them an array of tools and resources designed to make your transition solid. Among the most important of these resources, your partner should have the tools to conduct in-depth research and analysis to create thorough freight modeling. Since you will be asking many of your suppliers to alter their freight terms, and in some cases you will be asking them to significantly alter them, you need to make sure that you have data that is absolutely flawless. A good ICP consultant can provide the tools to conduct research and produce data leading to supplier terms that are unquestionable. Not only will strong data lead to savings all around, but solid numbers backed by state of the art research will also go a long way in helping suppliers feel confident in making this switch.

Finally, don’t forget that your ICP consultants should be well rounded. Simply finding partners who are well versed in supply chain strategy isn’t enough! Your ideal ICP experts should also be prepared to help you through the transition stages. This means that you are wise to find a partner who has the expertise and tools needed to help your entire team, from merchandisers to supplier partners, make this conversion smoothly. They should be ready to assist you in supplier negotiations, procedural updates, and team onboarding or training. This requires strong domain experience and leadership in addition to their more specified supply chain knowledge.

Making the conversion to an inbound consolidation program could be the move that boosts your organization into the next level. However, you don’t have to make this move on your own. If you are interested in beginning the conversion about making your inbound consolidation conversion, reach out to The Partnering Group, for a consultation today.

Why TPG?
We have the experience!

Designed, integrated and implemented Inbound Consolidation Programs for Fortune 100 and 500 Companies throughout North America, south America, and the Pacific Rim improving cost, service, quality and speed.

Authors’ Note: This article is the second of the TPG series on Inbound Consolidation.
Find the previous post here: What is an ICP?.
Next up – Ditching the Spreadsheets

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