Collaborative Business Planning

WWA is Viewed as The Subject Matter Expert

We are credited with introducing the concept of retailer/supplier partnering, now referred to as Collaborative Business Planning, to the US market in the mid 1980’s and later to Mexico, Australia and Asia. Our comprehensive, highly disciplined collaboration model, which continues to evolve as we adapt to changing industry dynamics, has repeatedly produced the desired results for both consumer products manufacturers and retails. We have developed countless collaboration strategies and go-to-market plans, facilitated several hundred top-to- top initiatives, conducted numerous classroom and tutorial collaboration training sessions, guided industry initiatives and written numerous articles on the subject.

Our Definition of Strategic Collaboration

We define strategic collaboration as any situation where there is explicit agreement between a retailer and consumer products manufacturer to leverage combined resources for the purpose of delivering sustainable mutual benefit, with emphasis on efficient movement of product across the supply chain, profitable category growth and enhancement of the shopping experience.

Collaboration is Shared Responsibility

The ability to achieve a strategic collaborative relationship falls squarely on the shoulders of the retailer and consumer products manufacturer. Both must be willing to rethink their priorities and move beyond traditional collaborative practices to where the shopper is the primary emphasis of all initiatives. This means…

  • Willingness and ability to align goals, strategies, systems, people and processes.
  • Commitment to the collaborative process and desired outcomes from top down and across functions
  • Ability to establish trust and productive communications.
  • Willingness to openly share knowledge and information.
  • Ability to think, plan and commit beyond one or two years.
  • Willingness to provide resources required to support development of innovative and differentiated merchandising and product solutions.
  • Willingness to share risks and rewards.

Keeping in mind the wide range of situations that may influence the relationship between a retailer and supplier, we feel it’s important to categorize collaboration into the three aforementioned levels. This categorization defines the types of collaboration from tactical to strategic. It recognizes not all manufacturers have the capability nor would it be in their best interest to strive to achieve a strategic collaboration level. This categorization approach has proven to be an excellent decision guide for our clients when determining deployment of resources and potential return on investment.

Strategic Alignment Meeting
(Upgraded Top-to-Top Meeting)

The Strategic Alignment Meeting provides an opportunity to confirm or gain an understanding of each company’s goals, business strategies, marketing plans, operating philosophies, resources, expectations, etc. It brings senior executives together in an environment that encourages productive communications; an opportunity to discuss how both parties can work together for mutual benefit.


The meeting is carefully orchestrated with the primary emphasis on the future…how to grow sales and profits, innovation, differentiation and enhancement of the shopping experience (not a tactics focused meeting)

It should be structured so there an opportunity for spontaneous “what if” discussion…the key to breakthrough thinking that separates the “winners” from the “losers”. Time allocated to reviewing past performance should be kept to a minimum.

Strategic Alignment Meeting Preparation

Each party should come to the meeting prepared to discuss business dynamics from a broad or global perspective. This is the best way to set the stage for strategic dialogue. The meeting includes a proven pre-meeting approach, guidelines on how to engage in productive communications, and how to structure post meeting communications and project initiatives across companies and down through the respective organizations to ensure delivery of expected outcomes. It’s important to remember that the Strategic Collaboration Meeting is only one aspect of an on-going collaborative process that requires on-going awareness and commitment throughout each organization.

What We Do

  • Develop the customer collaboration strategy, offering, expectations and go-to-market plan.
  • Segment retailers into one of three tiers based on a number of qualitative and quantitative measures.
  • Design the Strategic Alignment Meeting to focus on innovation, differentiation, the shopper and the shopping experience.
  • Develop the Strategic Alignment pre-meeting planning process, the meeting format, agenda guidelines and team-to-team process for the activation of alignment initiatives.
  • Develop the collaboration scorecard.
  • Conduct classroom/tutorial collaboration training.
  • Frequently facilitate the collaborative business planning process.