Many retailers today outsource their field execution team in order to place product and visual merchandising elements within their stores. While outsourcing is convenient for most retailers, retailers have very little visibility into if and how promotions are being executed within their stores. In a recent post by business2community, explains why third party merchandisers need to be equipped with mobile merchandising in-store execution and compliance software:
1. Optimized Audits:
While many field teams perform continuous merchandising audits, for third party merchandisers this is a critical exercise that evaluates core activities. Clients want to have peace of mind that the party they hired to merchandise their product is doing so correctly. That means proper shelf level, facings, and stock. Without a system of accountability, it can be difficult for managers to ensure that these actions are being performed correctly and be able to show tangible proof to clients. Though this process can be done on paper, managers often have to re-enter the data manually for clients, which leads to errors and increased overhead work.
By leveraging a Field Activity Management or In-store Merchandising Execution and Compliance software, third party merchandising field reps will be able to use their mobile devices to perform audits. By creating forms in the back-office, managers can give custom instructions to reps in the field, which can be very beneficial if your reps are handling fragile products like plants or glass. The geo-tagged photo feature offered by these types of tools will enable reps to share photos of merchandised products with each other and with managers. And because this information is available in the Cloud, managers can export it any time into organizational tools like Excel, eliminating the need for re-entry and lowering the rate of data errors.
2. Informed Client Visits:
A growing number of third party merchandising businesses means that if your field team isn’t providing great service, it will be easy for your client to find a new partner. This doesn’t only mean being educated when meeting with new clients, it also means being flexible when your current clients change procedures. If your reps have client crossover, it is crucial that reps confer with co-workers on client information. Without a streamlined system of communication, the message can be lost.
When clients change procedure or add new responsibilities, they expect that each rep who services them will know about the changes. Having to explain the same thing to the same business many times will frustrate your client. When reps are able to use messaging features with mobile solutions like Field Activity Management software, they can easily open up any and all notes left by previous reps about each client. That way, reps will always be informed about client preferences and expectations going into each visit.
3. Maximized Territories:
Competitive third party merchandising field reps have a set of unique responsibilities that differ from teams that merchandise their own product. Since the core goal of these reps is to push forward brands, they often perform additional duties like conducting market surveys, training in-store staff, and planning promotional events. Since the business is paid by clients to perform these special activities, it is crucial that each appointment is made on time. When managers have to manually assign reps to locations, it is easy for one appointment to be lost in the stack of paperwork or list of emails. If that happens, the client could miss out on a huge promotion and the retailer is inconvenienced, having set time aside to meet with a rep.
To ensure that all client and retail appointments are kept and that reps are prompt, third party merchandising businesses should use a tool that manages territories. Field Activity Management software tools enables back-office managers to view their reps in the field on one screen, allowing them to know where each team member is at any given time. They can see when reps check in at locations and when their projects are completed. This will raise the level of accountability, and give more flexibility when solving a territory mistake. For example, if you see that there was a scheduled appointment at 9am, and at 8:45 no one is on their way, you can easily find out who the closest rep is who can cover the problem. That way, your clients will never know there was a problem to begin with.
Serving by Simplifying
It is imperative that third party merchandising field reps provide excellent customer service through continuous merchandising reviews, educated client visits, and effective territory management. While all these strategies can be done on paper, it is much more efficient and effective for field teams to be able to perform them via a mobile software solution. Leveraging i will optimize audits, ease co-worker communication, and help map out territories, launching your third party merchandisers into success.