As dealerships we depend on relationships we have with our vendors. Some of these vendors are large, established companies while others are newer and at times more flexible. When it comes to the handling of your inventory, we all know it is vital to have your inventory online in the most timely manner possible but what happens when that feed goes down?
Who is responsible for catching and alerting the dealer?
The Blame Game
I recently had a situation where I received an email from one of our locations stating that particular vendor ( Vendor A if you will) had informed our team that the inventory had not updated in nearly 28 days! The email informed me that the vendor, who is a larger and more established organization, looked into it and appeared to be ” our side “. The General Manager asked me to talk to the vendor ( Vendor B) that handles our inventory and exports to determine what had gone wrong on their side.
We promptly received notice from Vendor B that the exports have been successfully running and exporting 4 times a day, and they confirmed inventory volumes changing daily over the past month. So now the ball was back in Vendor A’s court.
Immediately I am thinking, ” Oh no, I am in the blame game!” we have two separate vendors working with FTP drops and exports and it becomes very easy for one to point the finger at the other, or place blame elsewhere when and if something goes wrong.
Working towards a resolve
The support team at Vendor B emailed the inventory team at the Vendor A to confirm that nothing had changed with our account # or something that could be impacting our feed. This is all happening on a Saturday mind you, we are informed by Vendor A that they will need to wait until Monday to address the issue. We begin to request credit for the month we lost. Vendor A informed us if it was in fact on their side, a credit would be issued.
Monday morning comes and the two teams get together and identify the cause of the issue. There had been an error internal of Vendor A’s system which resulted in the glitch. They successfully pick up the FTP and populate their highly visited site, a top tier site at the 11:00am feed and we have refreshed inventory for the first time in a month. We are informed that a credit will be issued. Everyone thanks everyone for addressing the issue so quickly.
My issue with this WHOLE scenario is that it could have easily been avoided if only Vendor A had a simple alert system in place, which I have brought to them a number of times over the past few years, that notified them, a dealership contact and Vendor B in the event that inventory file hasn’t update in say, 48-60 hours. If such alert mechanism was in place we would have only lost a day or two compared to the month we lost. The credit is fine but it still stings that we could have a better ROI and performance from Vendor A if only our new inventory was being updated.
I guess it comes down to whose responsibility is it to insure all the various feeds that are the life line to our business are up and running?