For manufacturers of consumer goods like toothpaste, coffee, tea or appliances, making sure consumers have a good experience with their brand wherever they shop, whether online or in a physical store, is critical for retail 2020 planning.
But while the online experience can be tracked and managed in multiple automated ways, measurement of the in-store experience requires a human touch.
How do you know if your products are displayed correctly across hundreds of stores? How do you know if consumers are seeing the right promotions? Or even if the shelves are stocked?
One way is to leverage field sales and merchandisers who visit retail store fronts, where they complete surveys, apply best practices, identify areas for improvements, and take immediate actions to address gaps in promotional compliance and new sales orders.
New technology enables reps to collect real-time data that provides a wealth of insight not just into sales and visit productivity, but also store performance, competitive intelligence, and trade promotion performance.
With all the data sales reps generate, sales leaders can improve the effectiveness of their team on the ground while revenue growth management teams optimize trade promotions.
Together, they deliver the perfect in-store experiences that drive brand loyalty at each and every store.
Retail 2020s: It’s all about the data
The use of real-time data and analytics can completely transform the way customers respond to the strategic and tactical decisions manufacturers make about pricing, promotions, and product placement.
A plan defines what promotions will be offered for which products, and at what times across millions of retail locations. Adding metrics collected from the field in your front office with back office data such as POS data, scenario plan comparisons, and simple drag-and-drop of plan components from a previous year to the next set the process in motion.
Taken a step further, machine learning can crunch through all the data in real-time, and highlight insights trade management teams may miss. Not communicating these potential game-changing insights to the field as they occur can cost both manufacturers and retailers millions of dollars, according to the Promotion Optimization Institute.
Optimize the customer experience via field sales data
Technology isn’t just meant for accelerating and improving the accuracy and outcome of promotion planning – it also sets up your field sales team and merchandisers for retail 2020 success.
With survey and image data at their fingertips, field sales can make more informed, on-the-spot decisions to improve order volumes, product, and store performance.
Here’s how it works: Using tools they can access via their mobile devices, sales reps go through checklists and audit key areas at a store. New image intelligence enables them to compare what’s on the store shelf to the recommended planogram, and can also automatically start completing relevant surveys.
The real-time images provide valuable insight on a number of fronts.
First, a manufacturer can evaluate how much of the shelf it owns versus its competitors. Companies can also consider what products they’re missing from the shelf and whether they’re missing out on key buying trends from a planning perspective. They also can see if they’re running out of any products, and if needed, recalibrate store visit frequency or product delivery.
Sales reps can receive recommendations about which stores they should visit next and what surveys they should conduct. With only 24 hours in the day, the right focus can make all the difference.
For example, is field sales time better spent with a top-performing store or one whose promotional compliance is consistently falling short? And don’t forget trade promotion optimization – pushing tactical changes to promotions can lead to millions in revenue across thousands of retail store fronts.
Moments matter: Increasing productivity and margins with real-time insights
Manufacturers can also leverage the data collected by sales reps in the field to gain insight into sales productivity and take steps to address any gaps. With hundreds, if not thousands of stores in a potential territory, optimizing sales productivity is as important as improving their effectiveness once they are in a store.
With geolocation check-in and check-out, planograms and survey data, sales managers have visibility into a sales rep’s progress towards KPIs, such as revenue and activity completion. They can work with a sales rep and coach them on how to improve their productivity, including suggesting any relevant training.
The real-time data gives managers an accurate view into a salesperson’s productivity – insight that enables them to provide effective coaching instead of guessing where a salesperson needs helps. This leads to happier sales reps, which reduces costly sales rep churn.
Five minutes here and there may not seem much, but across the entire field, it can amount to big revenue gains. For example, saving one minute of UPS driver time per day – drivers who are tracked by hundreds of sensors – could save more than $14.5 million over the course a year.
A formula for retail success
By leaning on all the data sales reps generate in the field and from back office systems, product manufacturers can identify strategic opportunities to optimize trade promotions and sales execution on a store-by-store basis.
With real-time data analytics, they can ensure consumers are having consistent, positive brand experiences. Moreover, they can be agile and quickly respond to emerging consumer trends.
When it comes to retail 2020, manufacturers that take a data-driven approach gain a competitive edge to win on the shelf at each and every store.