By Dan Krause

A growing number of Retailers and Distributors are offering access to sales data portals to manufacturers.  Good examples of these are Kehe’s Oak system, and Whole Foods Market Vendor Portal.  Unlike costly third-party data, customer sales portals are free and generally require a simple access grant and some basic report training. This data represents valuable information to assist in:

  • Forecasting
  • Sales planning
  • Product development
  • Trade Promotion planning
  • Strategic growth planning

Like most of us, this information may seem beneficial to you, however taking the time to get to it is problematic.  Here are a couple of tips to get over the hurdle:

  • Get specific. What are you trying to get at?  Noodling around on the portal is fun and may provide you with interesting unexpected information, but oftentimes ends with not much value gained.  Rather, ask yourself:  What information will provide the insights you need into the project at hand?
  • Spend a moment to lay out the information you are looking for before logging on. Do you need information by a certain product, customer, time frame, or unit of sale?  If you visualize and preferably sketch out how this data looks, then the canned reports on the portal may have more meaning, and getting to what you want will be a great deal easier.  If someone else is going to pull the information for you this is extremely important!
  • Better questions, better answers: Once the data has been acquired successfully run it consecutively for a time!  I often hear, “the data was run successfully one month then we forgot what we did!”  Running the information consecutively will build confidence with the system and allow you to ask better questions as time goes by.  Better questions, better answers!
  • Get set up with your own user ID and password. Using someone else’s user ID and password often seem like a shortcut to get what you need right away.  However, what you are looking for may not be set as part of their user ID.  As someone who has worked on system security, unauthorized access to another’s data may provide reasons to limit access to everyone in the future.  Get your own ID and password to assure focus on the information that you need.
  • Your broker may already have access. Ask your broker first, they may have access.  Good reporting often leads to more effective selling and better broker utilization!

Dan Krause is a Natural Foods consultant and coach with expertise in Trade Promotion system integration.  Find him at

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