As consumers head back to physical stores, CPG brands must double down on their retail execution to ensure buyers have positive in-store experiences.
The retail space has been awash in contradictory headlines this year: Retail sales slide more than expected, but several retailers announce brighter outlooks. At the same time, retail workers are quitting at record rates. For CPG brands, these conflicting trends complicate a perfect store strategy.
On the distinctly positive side of things, we know that many consumers are eager to get back to in-store shopping, and that there’s pent-up demand for many items. Unfortunately, however, they often encounter empty shelves.
In some cases this is due to supply chain disruptions that have put many items on seemingly endless back order. In others, there simply aren’t enough workers to get the shelves stocked in time. All of these issues are compounded by massive staffing challenges.
The quest for the perfect store
Fortunately, amid all these seesawing macro trends, there are some valuable near-term steps retailers and CPG companies can partner up on as they mutually seek to carve out a path to post-pandemic success.
Many of these steps fall under the category of activity that known as retail execution – the activities, usually collaborative, that CPG brands and retailers undertake in order to ensure the best possible in-store experience: the perfect store. For CPG companies, it’s a question of making sure their brands are strongly represented in the store; for retailers, it’s about selling the most merchandise.
A key element of retail execution is the in-store visit that CPG field sales reps make at each retail location. Field reps work to ensure that shelves are stocked, and that products are displayed in the correct way – this can mean everything from location in the store to pricing to promotions.
Retail execution is where your brand strategy comes to life in-store to drive sales. Learn the best methods on how to achieve success.
The last mile challenge
It sounds simple enough, except that for years CPG brands have struggled to determine which stores to visit, and in what order. Every visit that a rep pays to a store that is already executing effectively is essentially a wasted trip, costing precious time and money. This issue is particularly critical given the staffing challenges mentioned above.
At the same time, failing to visit a store that would benefit from extra attention can lead to lost sales and frustrated customers. The last thing you want is a customer to encounter an empty shelf and choose your competitor’s product instead.
Given this “last mile” importance of in-store visits, CPG companies have long been frustrated with the inefficiency of the existing approach. That’s why approaches like dynamic visit planning are viewed with such promise in a perfect store strategy.
Dynamic visit planning and the perfect store
What is dynamic visit planning? It’s a solution that allows CPG companies to better understand which stores merit visits on a certain day, and in which order. What makes the solution possible is the synthesis of key data points such as:
- Perfect store scorings
- In-store KPIs
- Sales trends
- Point-of-sale data
Taken together, these data help ensure that valuable sales rep time is focused on the places where there’s the greatest potential for immediate improvement.
Of course, this type of prioritization also needs to take into account the retailer’s constraints – including factors like staff working hours, store hours, peak shopping times, and the like – in order to maximize the effectiveness of the store visits.
More insight, better sales
Having embraced the dynamic visit planning model, a CPG brand begins to accumulate additional, high-value data points such as:
- Typical visit duration
- Historical traffic data
- Starting/ending geolocation
By systematically analyzing this data, it becomes possible to better optimize the daily route logistics. By linking intelligent visit prioritization with in-store logistics optimization, CPG companies can plan store visits more effectively in order to maximize performance and increase efficiency.
At the same time, this perfect store strategy provides for the greater agility that constantly changing market conditions require.