As retailers strive to meet customers’ needs through an omni-channel environment, the complexity of brick and mortar retail is forever growing. Campaign intricacy is accelerating and with the immense amount of POP, kits, products, and creative going out to stores, few retailers feel confident in their stores’ ability to execute localized campaigns quickly or effectively. In addition, communication from headquarters down to store level is indirect and not easily traceable. This inefficiency not only wastes time and leads to confusion, but also impacts profit margins via substantial unnecessary printing and shipping costs, and lost sales due to untimely and inaccurate product mix and messaging.
In such a tech savvy world, it seems difficult to understand that a display is not set up in time or products are not on shelves where they are supposed to be. The culprit might be in-store execution is still done with out-dated tools like spreadsheets and manual checklists. Investing in in-store execution software, can guarantee right product and messaging is delivered at the right place and time.
Below Shopperception posted tips on improving in-store execution based on suggestions from Mike Anthony from Engage Consultants:
1- Avoid out-of-stock and lack of compliance.
It is impossible to carry out a promotion with no products on shelves. Although it may seem improbable, Engage consultants describe that in some store audits they have made; over 10% of the entire range in the store is out of stock. The problem is that retailers sometimes make profit from fees rather than conversion.
In these cases, Mike Anthony advises brands to increase the percentage of fees paid based on performance basis. Making payments conditional upon execution would help reward compliance and avoid out-of-stock as opposed to retailers receiving payments no matter what they do.
The same dedication and planning devoted to advertising and developing in-store promotions should be applied to negotiating retailer support. Many times, retailers make decisions that impact the effort negatively because they were not properly informed in the first place. Whether it is increased space for existing products, extending a range, or additional visibility to support a promotion, the agreement should be clear and thorough.
2- A good brief for agencies
The same planning is needed the other way around. Retailers should be able to inform brands the range of possibilities available. Advertising agencies and marketers may be unaware of what can and cannot be done inside the store.
Of course, some boundaries can be more flexible and limitations can be bent, but in order to do so, it is necessary to provide the information from the start. Marketers should include retail reality and expectations on their brief so that agencies can work with a more realistic scenario from the beginning.
3- Employees inside stores are key
The role of retail employees is a huge topic in itself; it is becoming more and more significant as showrooming advances and social media gains force. Why? Customers are getting used to receiving valuable data before making up their minds either from internet ecommerce sites or from friends with real-time interactions with smartphones.
To cope with this savvy shopper trend, retailers need to transform their workforce into knowledge-based teams. This will be possible when they automate tasks and increase customer-facing activities. We once mentioned digital price displays that save a huge amount of labor hours that can be devoted to engaging the consumer.
Regarding promotion executions, store employees are the ones who will make sure all the elements are in place and customers receive the information needed.
4- Measure results
Most marketers lead a very hectic work life; as soon as one activity finishes they are already launching a new campaign. Most times, little time is left for measuring results and even less time is allocated to analyzing them. Considering all the resources spent before the promotion is launched, marketers should devote some time for closure and feedback when the promotion ends, if not how could they know whether the pallet display or the end-aisle was more effective, for example?
Nowadays, local, real time, precise data and analytics can provide new benchmarks for performance within stores. This is certainly useful for improving marketing approaches as well as enhancing store operations as the one mentioned above.
In this context, when an international beer brand asked us about the possibility of tracking shopper engagement and conversion on two different areas on the selling floor based on different stimuli, we planned a project to deliver objective metrics in a complete category using our tool. You can read more on the beer case here. This shows that many marketing managers are eager to attain valuable insight by measuring results.
5- Observe shopper behavior near the shelf
Most brick-and-mortar stores know that their future lies in being able to transform their business into more efficient customer service organizations. Technology is central for this process to occur.
Retailers need to collect and analyze information related to how shoppers behave within their stores so that they can improve the overall shopping experience. In doing so, they will also be capable of providing brands with more precise boundaries for in-store promotions.
For brands, action is very limited without an understanding of what happens inside stores. Managers need to determine if factors that can be controlled need to be changed so as to develop new growth strategies.
For example, item affinity may lead to interesting promotions matching products that go very well together. Thus, it is essential that marketers learn more about what products and categories could be adjacent to another to allow more convenient shopping.
We believe campaigns can become cost effective and more successful if agencies and brands can adapt to new shopper missions and thus understand what happens in front of the shelf in each category inside stores.
To conclude, Albert Einstein once said “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” In-store execution is that convergence point; it is where the right product is displayed at the right price in the right place so that lookers can turn into buyers as brands and retailers work together to improve the overall shopping experience.