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Merchandised as promised: Validation builds the trust that increases sales

Photograph: Shutterstock

When it comes to doing merchandising right, it’s hard to sustain a healthy trust between brands, retailers and third-party merchandisers. Validation is the remedy.

In-store merchandising performance depends on trust between trading partners. Without it, the routine activities required by category management and trade promotion plans can fall chronically short of expectation. The impact covers several essential areas:

  1. Planogram resets and ongoing shelf maintenance
  2. Display and promotion compliance
  3. New items’ speed to shelf
  4. On-shelf availability and out-of-stocks

Why is partner trust so important for such routine activities? For starters, on a typical day, a supermarket or supercenter will have dozens or even hundreds of individuals working the shelves, including DSD vendors, brokers, merchandising service organizations and store employees.

Each of these stakeholders carries a different perspective into the store, determined by their roles and goals. Coordinating their activities with retailer priorities and approved plans is no is no simple task. It requires timely communication, impeccable information, and relentless transparency.

Trust flows from this transparency—about the tasks to be executed, performance quality, issues encountered and sales outcomes. This fosters a compliance-oriented culture that keeps all parties properly focused on optimizing shopper experience and maximizing sales.

“All parties” means brand owners, store owners, category managers, promotion managers and the in-store merchandising personnel who have their hands on the products. Visibility to the same store-level performance data for all parties creates a truly transparent retail ecosystem where everyone knows what’s going on at a given time.

Even in the era of increased online shopping and a focus on ecommerce, effective in-store physical merchandising remains the heartbeat of the supermarket. To that end, retailers have a profound opportunity to foster a superior culture of performance by initiating the following activities:

  • Plan realistically, based on reliable measures of past performance and trading partner consensus
  • Communicate tasks to the field and confirm the messages are received
  • Track actions and measure performance using verifiable methods and feedback
  • Validate and share the outcomes, according to the roles and responsibilities of each participant
  • Benchmark performance based on actions and results, and apply them to future merchandising and promotion plans

Whatever retailers decide to call this plan—In-Store Implementation, Merchandising Performance Management or something else entirely—they must establish this discipline, backed by role-level visibility for each stage of the merchandising process.

Mobile technology underpins the plan’s success. Workers already know how to use smartphones and tablets. Geo-located and continuously connected, mobile devices easily communicate visual information and enable check-in / check-out. They can also scan barcodes and capture digital images as proof-of-performance or to report issues.

When retailers establish a real-time, mobile platform for merchandising validation, they realize a lot of valuable outcomes.

  • Brands, retailers, DSD vendors, brokers and MSOs all play off the same accurate picture of merchandising compliance and outcomes.
  • Store managers easily monitor the activities of the numerous in-house and third-party merchandisers and DSD vendors who touch their shelves every day.
  • Brand marketers gain a realistic view of how their promotions are implemented and evaluate their returns.
  • Category managers get a far more reliable measure of planogram compliance, cut-ins, assortments and even price points.
  • Merchandisers track their own effectiveness and gain self-assurance.

For all parties, the results are better planogram compliance; better OSA; better promotional outcomes; and greater sales opportunities, not to mention more on-time work and less re-work.

Refined, effective, easy for end-users to master and reasonable in cost, mobile technology readily enables this kind of trust-based merchandising.

Linking everyone across the same platform makes the facts inarguable and the mission crystal clear. That kind of validation creates trust as the default condition.

Movista enables validation and trust in retail execution. Movista is a Software as a Service (SaaS) company created by a team of retail veterans, managers, merchants and innovators—and supported by a team of critical thinkers and problem solvers. It creates brilliant technical solutions to exceptionally complex business problems and its platform helps improve retail execution. Visit Movista.com to learn more.

This post is sponsored by Movista

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