The origins of the ECR ethos can be traced back to the late 1980’s where the relationship between Walmart and Procter and Gamble had deteriorated to such a point that disputes between the two companies were common. Fatigued by this, Sam Walton and P&G’s Vice President of Sales met to agree a better way of working.
The solutions they agreed included a member of P&G siting on a dedicated Walmart team at their Head Office in Bentonville. Here they shared a lot of data they’d previously kept to themselves and worked on a series of projects that benefited both companies. In fact, this collaboration was so successful that Walmart encouraged other suppliers to work in a similar way. These suppliers in turn began to preach the benefits of collaboration to their other retail customers and so the concept grew.
With Walmart enjoying such exceptional growth, it was closely studied by others seeking the secrets of their success. Kurt Salmon Associates, a management consultancy, coined the term “Efficient Consumer Response” to capture the concept of collaborative working. The idea and the name began to spread, first to Italy, then to other parts of Europe and around the world.