It all started with a joke: "How often do you conduct your Quarterly Business Reviews?". If you’ve been in the industry for a while, there’s a chance you’ve heard this before! Even if you haven’t, this article will walk you through what an e-retail QBR is, and how to prepare for it. Trust me; you will soon get the joke!

What is a QBR in business?

A Quarterly Business Review (QBR), as the name suggests, is a business meeting organized every quarter. Unlike a weekly catch up that deals with daily operations, the trimestrial meeting focuses on longer-term performance and goals.

During the QBR, business partners usually focus on strategic topics. You will discuss buyers' expectations, future orders, and other long-term goals that you don’t have time to talk about in a quick phone call.

What does QBR stand for?

The use of the term QBR is widespread in B2B customer-related professions (like customer success in SaaS); it's a crucial meeting for departments that heavily rely on relationships with clients.

The term has many variations, such as Business Review or Executive Business Review. You may hear a few different terms used, but they all indicate the same kind of meeting.

In an e-commerce context, this meeting is held between the brand/manufacturer and its e-retailer/online distributors. In other words, brands and manufacturers are sellers who try to distribute their products via buyers—the e-retailers. On the surface, the relationship looks very similar to a retail relationship in a brick-and-mortar context. But it’s all in the details, and e-retail QBRs are not exactly the same.

Who will come to an e-retail QBR meeting?

Two parties attend this meeting: the brand and the e-retailer. Looking more closely at the details, the attendants' profiles include:

Organizer(s): the person who is the point of contact.

More often than not, the account manager at the brand is responsible for organizing the meeting. He or she is the direct link that connects both sides by gathering information and feedback, keeping track of the orders and nurturing the business relationship.

The organizer will be able to use their insight to suggest a list of participants, the meeting agenda and highlight key points to ensure a successful meeting.

Note that it's not always the brand side that takes the initiative to set up a QBR meeting. It can come from a mutual agreement by both parties or be planned by the e-retailers as part of their processes.

Participants:

Who attends depends on the goal of the meeting and the agenda.

From the brand or manufacturer’s side, you will often find the following people at a QBR meeting:

  • The E-Retail Account Manager will attend all QBRs. He/she is in charge of the business relationship and is usually responsible for organizing the meeting.
  • A Trade Marketer, Digital Marketer or Channel Marketer may want to join to discuss future activation campaigns. It’s common to discuss trade marketing budgets during the QBR.
  • Sales directors typically don’t attend all QBRs, especially if they’re routine or “maintenance”. However, they may want to come if they feel that there is an opportunity to seize!
  • You may want to involve Product Managers or Product Marketers if there’s a big product launch ahead. They can help introduce the new product, share market insights, and provide context to help make the launch successful.
  • Finally, a Supply-Chain Manager could be at the meeting if logistics have been an issue lately.

On the e-retailer’s side, here’s who you can expect to attend:

  • Buyer or Vendor Manager: usually one of these two is the owner of the relationship with the brand.
  • Category Manager: this person is in charge of your category of product for the e-retailer. His/her consumer and product insights are crucial to planning for the future.
  • E-Commerce Marketer or Brand Specialist: they’re in charge of the promotion of your products through the optimization of product pages and the execution of trade marketing campaigns.
  • Head of Purchasing or Head of Procurement: this decision-maker might not attend all the QBRs, but when they do, the outcomes can be significant.
  • E-Commerce Merchandiser: this person directly manages a portfolio of products inside a category, the e-merchandiser can point out what works and doesn’t in a new product launch.
  • Supply Chain Manager: when an order’s size and frequency changes, involving  supply chain managers is a must to avoid distribution mishaps, such as out-of-stocks.

How to come prepared to an e-retail QBR meeting?

Preparation is the key to a productive meeting! A good starting point is to look at the KPIs, and the discussion can start from there.

Here’s a list of topics that could come up:

  • Sales performance: what was last quarter’s sell-out? Is it in line with the yearly plan?
  • Category analytics: how is the category growing? Is your brand growing faster or slower than the category?
  • Performance benchmark: how is the e-retailer doing compared to other e-retailers in the market?
  • Upcoming key moments: sales events, product launches, peak season, etc.
  • Margin and price: is the e-retailer satisfied with their level of margin?
  • Availability problems: has there been long, unresolved out-of-stocks? Are there supply chain issues?
  • Placement and promotion: what can both parties do to increase sales in the next quarter? Are there opportunities for trade marketing actions or new promotions?

Using an e-retail intelligence solution like BlueBoard can really help you come prepared on most of these topics.

What does a successful QBR look like? 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. A QBR is successful when everyone is on the same page and happy about its outcomes. As this is a recurring meeting, the definition of a successful meeting can range from getting to know each other to negotiating a larger order at a higher selling price.

Yet, the ultimate goals that most brands want to achieve with this meeting are:

  • Yield more revenue from this e-retailer: this is your trusted partner, so the more they sell, the more you make.
  • Increase order quantity and frequency: if you get your partners to increase their purchase volumes, you’re reducing the risk of out-of-stocks.
  • Keep MSRP-level prices: the MSRP is calculated to maximize your profit and match the target market. Therefore, you want your products to sell for as close to that price point as possible. 
  • Maintain B2B prices: if your partner is dissatisfied with their level of margin, they will try to negotiate a lower B2B price. You want to steer clear of this situation.
  • Avoid unnecessary trade marketing investment: If the sell-out is disappointing, or if the margin is too low, some major e-retailers could demand that you compensate them. This usually takes the form of on-site marketing investments. If your product sells well, you are less likely to have to deal with this expense.

QBR meeting is, no doubt, an essential part of e-commerce distribution management. But truth be told, it could take hours to gather the data needed. This process can be automated using e-commerce intelligence tools such as BlueBoard. It saves you time and ensures data accuracy to help you make better decisions.

Book a Free Demo to see how BlueBoard can help you fast track your QBR preparation!

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