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“Data, I think, is one of the most powerful mechanisms for telling stories. I take a huge pile of data and I try to get it to tell stories.” – Steven Levitt, Economist
As many of you know, I love numbers. Maybe that is why I pursued a degree in accounting and got my CPA right after college. I have always said that numbers tell a story to me. That is why I loved this quote so much. It summed up what I have always felt. When I met with Abe Sherman over a year and a half ago, he showed me the Balance to Buy™ system and it was like I heard angels singing! (OK so maybe I am being a little over dramatic right now.)
But seriously, for years, I had been working with my customer’s data, manually compiling spreadsheets from reports they sent me. This process would take hours, and sometimes days to complete. Never mind the amount of times I had to bother my customers to send me their inventory reports. And then, all of a sudden, I saw a solution in front of my eyes, Balance to Buy™ could do it all within minutes! A win-win! So when Abe gave me the green light to create a platform for the vendors to work together with their retailers in a truly collaborative way, I jumped on it. For me, it is not a theory that I am testing – it is a way of doing business that I had firsthand knowledge worked!
We took a year to build the platform, The BIG Network. And I have to be honest, when we were ready to launch in January 2015 I did not know what to expect.
- In my gut that this would work.
- That we could change the way the industry did business.
- We could strengthen and really change the relationship between vendors and retailers in a positive way.
What I did not know was how quickly so many people would embrace and be excited about the idea.
The enthusiasm we have seen on both sides of the aisle is contagious. Hearing statements like “This is a game changer”, “It is about time someone figured this out”, “Why wouldn’t all retailers sign up to share data, it is a no brainer” not only encouraged us, but motivated us to keep going strong. And we know the timing is just right when we look at the state of the industry today as things are again getting scary. Bank funding for the diamond industry has been in decline in recent months, a trend that is likely to continue. Many companies are quietly folding and going away. How much longer can we as an industry keep doing things “the same old way”? So for those of you who, perhaps, have not read any of our previous articles on the subject, let me tell what The BIG Network encompasses. It is a platform where vendors and their retail partners work truly collaboratively, through shared data. The entire program is 100% permission based.
The retailers must “grant permission” for the vendor to see limited inventory data. This data includes
- Sales (in units)
- Cost of Goods Sold (in units, $’s and average cost)
- Inventory on Hand (in units, $’s and average cost)
- Aged Inventory (over 365 days at cost)
The goal being that if the vendor has insight into what is selling and what is not, they can become better partners. Not only helping increase turn by making sure fast sellers are in stock, but also, proactively addressing the non-performing items as well.
In our industry, most vendors think that the retailer is their customer. Actually, the consumer is the ultimate customer and you want your merchandise bought by them. Think of the car dealership example (Abe’s inspiration and favorite analogy). When you go buy a car, if they do not have it on the lot, what do they do? They go to their computer terminal, the associate clicks a few keys and then says “Oh – we have that car 20 miles away at another dealership, we will have it to you here tomorrow.” Wow! Why are we not thinking like that?? Now we can.
If you have not already signed up to share your data with your vendors, it is easy.
- Go to the home screen in Balance to Buy™
- Click on the drop down menu titled “Partner Permissions”.
- A list of all your vendors will appear.
- Just simply click the “Make Partner” button to activate the permission.
- If at any point you want to turn it off, just simply click “Remove Partner”.
- Any vendor with a “BIG Network” logo next to their name has already signed up for the program.
- However, even if your vendor has not yet signed up we encourage you to grant all permissions you want. The data will go nowhere until that vendor joins, and new ones are joining each week.
- You can always also email Nola(email@example.com) or Deborah(firstname.lastname@example.org) and they can walk you through it and in less than 10 minutes all your permissions that you want to grant will be done.
- See the list to the right for our current BIG Network vendors.
This is an exciting time, and we welcome you to come join us, if you have not already, and be a part of something BIG!
CSO – The BIG Network
BIG – Buyers Intelligence Group