Superior Retail Execution with Digital Merchandising
Retail Execution and the approach to capturing the in-store conditions have changed many times over the years, in part due to a drive for efficiency and in part due to new technologies that have entered the marketplace.
In some businesses we still encounter the old-fashioned pen and paper being used to record conditions, we have witnessed product orders being handwritten or telephoned through to a representative of the manufacturer or distributor.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with the pen and paper approach, managing the activity on scale does become more challenging. Multiple store visits, numerous reps and the ever-growing demands to capture new facts of both an FMCG’s own products as well as capturing competitor information. All of which if used correctly can provide a deeper insight into what it takes to succeed at the shelf.
In the new age of technology, many different methods and systems can be used to record and manage instore conditions. We have the luxury of mobile phones and tablets which can be used as a vehicle to populate static or online audits. Software companies like StayinFront have developed applications with modules that can be configured to meet the needs of the different roles and different routes to market.
If we break down the basic data that needs to be captured, you begin to understand how much time it takes to record the instore conditions on both entry and exit. Once the initial data has been captured a rep would then turn their attention to carrying out improvements in store, improvements range from Merchandizing products on the shelf, to pitching to store owners/managers to sell more products via enticing pitches to demonstrate the potential return on investment.
Common information we see captured at the shelf:
o Inventory level
o Number of facing’s
o Shelf location
Now imagine having to capture the same information again for competitors, it’s a time-consuming exercise.
So how does an FMCG manufacturer achieve superior execution?
The first requirement is to establish what activities are being carried out in-store today, validate them, do they add value? What additional information is required to help the buying and marketing teams ensure the business is achieving ROI?
Carrying out an end-to-end review of current and future needs will ensure whichever software is purchased the field force and their activities are future-proofed. Once the requirements are clear attention is turned to finding the right service provider, remember its future state you need. The right provider will have a strong 3-year roadmap with a clear vision of how the product will evolve and be developed over time. There are many ‘point in time’ solutions in the marketplace that are fit for purpose and may improve today’s ways of working, in the long run, you will get left behind with dated and limited functionality.
Identify vendors who are utilizing data, AI & Machine learning to ensure the guided store visit process can be as effective as possible.
We have seen adoption in Digital Merchandising accelerate during 2021 as FMCG companies explore ways to speed up activities in-store and improve accuracy. Based on the results we are witnessing being accomplished in the field, image recognition is no overnight fad, it’s here to stay and being developed day by day to make the process even easier for field teams. To give you an idea of the stats:
· Accuracy using digital merchandising has increased from 75% to plus 96%!
· 50% Time saving on checking critical compliance metrics per store visit
· Results were published back to the device of the field rep in minutes
· Improved back-end reporting and visibility of store conditions utilizing images captured in-store.
Steve Bonsell, Account Director of the EMEA region for StayinFront, joined the Company in the Summer of 2019. In his role, he manages the relationship between the client and each of the StayinFront divisions, ensuring best practices, and that clients are kept informed of all new products and future innovations. Steve’s mantra is ‘Going the final mile to deliver customer delight.’ Having previously worked at Tesco for over 8 years and over 4 years at Nielsen Brandbank, Steve brings with him a wealth of FMCG experience from both a retailer and service provider perspective.
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