CROSSMARK is a leading sales and marketing services company in the consumer goods industry that delivers growth solutions to clients. Recently CROSSMARK created a Center for Collaboration with the intent of working more closely with suppliers and one of their largest clients, WalMart, and specifically their Sam’s Club division. The center would allow for WalMart and their key suppliers to collaborate in shopper research, joint business planning, modular processes, product presentations, and more in order for the company to plan their future with its suppliers.
The Center for Collaboration will help suppliers and WalMart better plan for the future.
The crux of this collaboration would be WalMart’s Retail Link. Through this program, each of WalMart’s suppliers is allowed free internet access to every item that the company has supplied to a WalMart store. This means that each supplier has access to data on how much of their product has sold, what it has sold for, forecasted sales, the market basket, as well as the inventory in stores and distribution centers. This allows suppliers to better understand how their products are selling at the shelf, which lets them strategize for how to better distribute those products.
The problem is that all of this information can be overwhelming. Suppliers need to be able to take the data, figure out how they are doing, and quickly offer recommendations to sell more of the product.
“Really what the center is for is that entire process,” says Michael Graen, Vice President of Collaboration for CROSSMARK. Suppliers team with WalMart personnel in order to discuss shopper research findings, analyze the Retail Link data, and come up with business plans that are mutually beneficial for WalMart and their suppliers.
The question then became how CROSSMARK would get this done. The highlights of the build are two 16-foot by 8-foot Prysm Video walls. The systems are capable of running up to six different inputs to come in at the same time, and run on multi-touch software.
“We went with Prysm for a couple of reasons,” says Bryan Jones, Senior IT Technician for CROSSMARK. “Their laser phosphorous display allows you to put blocks together, and allows you to create virtually any sized screen. In combination with building these 8-foot by 16-foot screens, we also enabled touch. You have the ability to touch, to annotate, to save, to capture, to put information into storage or shoot it out on an e-mail. The best way to say it is, it’s a giant tablet.”
Prysm was also chosen for its energy consumption, or lack thereof. CROSSMARK not only wanted a great technology, but wished to stay environmentally conscious at the same time. For other solutions, HVAC solutions would have had to be installed in order to properly run and cool the system. “With the Prysm screens, running them 24 hours a day is about the equivalent of running two hair dryers,” says Jones.
Suppliers can book rooms at the Center for Collaboration in order to strategize.
Since installing the system and opening the Center for Collaboration, there has been plenty of buzz. CROSSMARK guided between 200 and 250 tour groups through the center before their grand opening, and have shown the site off to even more groups since then.
The technology within isn’t just eye candy, however. WalMart personnel have already begun to book the rooms with the Prysm walls in order to go through the modular planning process in order to virtualize how their shelves will be organized in reality. Suppliers have used the walls in the same capacity in order to show off to their merchant counterparts. CROSSMARK has also partnered with companies, like Atlas and Kantar Retail, in order to drive software similar to gaming software that allows for virtual tours of stored, from layouts to the products on the shelf. Users can navigate through the stores to better visualize how they should organize their products.
“Our results have been very positive,” says Graen. “We’ve had lots of folks over here reserving blocks of rooms for the process of joint business planning and modular work. We’ve had several big product demonstrations with some of our food suppliers. We’ve been extremely pleased with the results so far.”