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GMA/Roland Berger Study Examines Industry's E-Readiness

WASHINGTON, DC - CPG manufacturers and retailers must trust each other enough to share information if B2B e-commerce is to become a reality, according to a new "e-readiness study" conducted by Roland Berger & Partner, LLC for the Grocery Manufacturers of America. The study cites trading partner collaboration, data synchronization and a lack of operational experience as persistent industry challenges.

The e-readiness study ? which included interviews with more than 200 executives and managers from retailer, wholesaler, broker and manufacturer organizations ? is the first and largest of its kind to explore what B2B business processes were top priorities for retailers and manufacturers. 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.

Both manufacturers and retailers interviewed in the study said a lack of collaboration and trust were barriers to B2B e-commerce, with companies reporting that there is "far too little sharing of information" about their respective B2B e-commerce strategies and initiatives. Seventy-five percent of retailers said promotion management ? often cited as the Achilles heel of closer trading partner collaboration ? is a top priority.

"Clearly there are areas in which manufacturers and distributors can benefit from increased sharing of information and better collaboration," said GMA executive vice president Mark Baum. "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."

Cost price management, order management ? and for DSD companies ? payment management, were rated as high priorities for both retailers and manufacturers participating in the study. Collaborative business processes such as forecasting, replenishment, category management and promotion management were prioritized highly by manufacturers but were still in the "planning" phase.

The study also confirmed that many companies have already spent significant time and money implementing proprietary data exchange and process automation systems and are unlikely to abandon these investments in the short-term. Fifty-one percent of retailers said they were planning to electronically connect with suppliers through the public B2B Internet exchanges and through 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. Transora was considered the primary exchange for the manufacturers, but 63 percent of companies said they would use multiple exchanges to connect with retailers.
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