How Top Consumer Products Companies Use Real-Time Insights to Improve Retail Execution

“Win at the shelf!” is the rallying cry of today’s consumer products companies – and for good reason.

Engaging in-store experiences at the store-shelf level attract more consumers and win more business than their humdrum competition down the aisle. It can also drive greater efficiency and improve customer service, resulting in higher sales volume, more revenue, and increased profitability, according to IDC Manufacturing Insights research.

But fickle consumers have more options than ever before. In fact, most people in the U.S. wouldn’t care if 82 percent of brands disappeared, analysis by Havas Media found.  So retailers are demanding highly targeted and tailored strategies from their consumer products partners.

Meeting these escalating retailer demands – and capturing market share – require securing the best on-shelf availability and ensuring that products are priced, packaged, and merchandised to maximize the shopping experience. Achieving these daunting objectives is possible, according to an infographic by IDC,which summarizes the top retail execution objectives for consumer products manufacturers and how they’re accomplishing them. Here are my key takeaways:

What Goes into Great In-Store Execution?

The top attribute cited in the IDC infographic to support successful in-store execution is collaboration. Why so important? With better collaboration, consumer products companies can overcome challenges related to potential profit busters such as category complexity, retailer cost-shifting, and inventory shortfalls. One consumer products supply chain VP quoted in the infographic says, “Collaboration in the retail store is the best way we have of solving persistent out-of-stock problems in our high velocity brand categories.”

Your salespeople are key enablers of better collaboration. By working with store managers during store audits to ensure merchandising, price, and promotion compliance, check available inventory and process re-orders, and make decisions about displays and other merchandising decisions, everyone wins. The IDC infographic shows that effective execution of these tasks can help yield benefits such as better:

  • On-shelf availability
  • Price and promotion
  • Compliance and execution
  • Store-specific mix
  • Revenue per store
  • Merchandising execution and compliance
  • Revenue per salesperson

Shift from Operational to Strategic

Since responsibility to execute in the store effectively rests on the shoulders of your salespeople, it makes sense to lighten their load with tools that enable
them to work more productively.

Apps that streamline operational tasks such as managing store visits, placing ordering, and settling claims free your salespeople to focus on more strategic
opportunities. With the right tools, they can:

  • Quickly assess pricing and promotion compliance
  • Validate that product layouts and shelf presentations match planogram layouts
  • Conduct audits to capture various attributes for products and product categories in the store, such as the number of customer facings and shelf space

Performing these types of tasks help your salespeople get to know each retailer, its stores, and its requirements better. This knowledge can translate to bottom line benefits like maximizing consumer sell-through and profitability. In fact, a global food and beverage company told IDC, “Improving retail execution has improved our promotional compliance by close to 5 percentage points.”

Real-Time Insights Make a Difference for Sales

The use of real-time data and analytics is completely transforming the way that salespeople engage with retailers, according to IDC’s report. Salespeople are using real-time insight into consumer buying patterns, pricing, sales volume, inventory, and any number of variables to inform on-the-spot decisions.  With this insight, salespeople can transform their role from pure in-store execution to trusted advisor to store managers.

Greater Collaboration Leads to Better Service for Consumers

Successful in-store execution has the potential to increase revenue and reduce out-of-stocks while improving the shopping experience. Gaining high-value insights and making faster, more informed decisions can help consumer products companies improve collaboration with retailers.

This will ultimately result in better service, pricing, and product availability for the consumers. And it can profoundly enhance the odds that your consumer products company will win at the shelf.

This story previously appeared on SAP Business Trends.
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