The location concept is something usually attributed to the real estate industry, with those who operate in that world constantly preaching its importance. The location of a property will be a large determining factor in its value. The same can be said of the convenience store industry as well, with the product placement determining the amount of attention it gets. Whether it’s the front end of the store or other shelves throughout, there are certain “hot spots” in which profitability can be maximized. (more…)

If you sell products into major US grocery, drug, club, c-store, or specialty channels there is a good chance you are heavily reliant on brokers.  Some companies we work with have 50+ different brokers covering various classes of trade or territories. Others rely heavily on one single national broker for driving their entire retail success.  The lions share of brands have a hybrid approach in mixing brokers and their own sales team together across different accounts and channels.

For some of these suppliers the perception of the relationships with brokers unfortunately often fall into the “necessary evil category” or “big pain in %$#” column.

Now I’ll be the first to say,  there are many outstanding brokers that do great work, however outsourcing retail sales is a beast of its own.

The reality is that your brand(s) are one of many in a large portfolio and you are no longer in direct control of your own sales force.

The result is CPG sales managers feeling loss of control, lack of visibility, and flat out helplessness in driving accountability to the outcome of sales efforts.

We have found the most successful relationships between suppliers and brokers follow these 3 key best practices:

Help your brokers focus on what matters

 

Many suppliers have reduced the percent of sales or budgets given to brokers – yet brokers are still expected to perform a variety of retail tasks, under this “all-in-one” fee.  Inevitably brands get disappointed when a broker is falling short on some retail execution activity as the perception is that, “they are focused on selling others brands”.

The truth is, brokers work extremely hard on very thin margins. As with any business they will focus on whatever is needed in order to see profits rise. It is the responsibility of the suppliers, not the brokers, to help ensure that there is the proper incentive to focus on what matters the most and will drive results.

Key – Giving brokers additional budgets for store level retail execution and helping create better measurement and reporting on retail activity will drive the right behaviors.

Improve Visibility For Everyone

No matter if your broker gives you good and timely information on accounts or not, you must increase your own visibility on store conditions.  If you think you can sit back and just manage the broker or manage from headquarters, you are missing a huge opportunity to increase your total sales.

Increasing store level knowledge through data, audits and activity metrics creates a better and more accountable conversation on both sides of the table. It also ensures you and the brokers are aligned on all the opportunities that can increase sales; and you are driving the right conversations necessary to win at the shelf.

Key – Ensure data, pictures and overall performance monitoring go beyond spot checks and you have established an ongoing and streamlined system of retail measurement.

Innovate and Win Together

 

We often have brands excited about one of our retail innovations, yet put up a roadblock before they even start. There is often a fear that the broker will never use a tool like Shelvspace, or will be hard to get on board.  The reality is brokers want to sell more and also want to continue to cut out the “waste” and work efficiently as well.  The real roadblocks are usually just a matter of positioning and perspective.

For a supplier to win, they must be cognizant to align their needs with the brokers to ensure a mutual increase in profitability and efficiency.  We have several brokers using Shelvspace that have implemented extremely innovative data, reporting, crowdsourcing and overall sales management solutions that help them sell more for their clients.

Key – Ensure alternative innovation like crowdsourcing, data solutions, and opportunity analysis are a shared conversation with you broker.   Not everything will be a clear path, but there are more collaboration opportunities today and you realize.

Learn more on implementing broker management best practices and reach out to our team at Shelvspace to learn more.

http://shelvspace.com/intro/

October 21, 2016

New Consumer

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October 20, 2016

Brand Above All

Emerging brands and veterans alike strive to have their brand stick out above the rest. It is imperative that a brand differentiates itself from the field in order to survive. Your brand is your legacy; the stronger it is, the stronger your business will be. Speaking of veterans, perennial all-star Carmelo Anthony cited business being a large reason that he stayed in New York, in order to grow his own brand. He has spent a few seasons there, being able to develop not only basketball roots, but build a strong business foundation, which he hopes to continue to solidify before branching it out.

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What frequency should you be auditing your stores?

Shelvspace is working with several companies that are using their own field teams to audit stores.  We also have several companies that use outsourcing or crowdsource as a way to monitor their activity to our partners.   

One of the first questions we often get asked is, “How often are others going out to stores and performing audits?”

Our answer to them is, “It varies greatly and for several different factors.” However, in our experience, the common Industry approach usually falls into one of these buckets:

Spot Check – Let’s collect information randomly when we can and share it.  Unfortunately, many that leverage broker networks and don’t have their own field teams, or those that have not truly baselined their retail execution fall into this trap. Initially, It feels good to get some extra visibility, but tends to fall short when it comes to finding and fixing root causes. This technique however can be effective for cases like validating a new product launch or confirming execution of new promotions.

Random Sampling – This is the most economical.  A company does a sampling of their key accounts on a periodic basis. Some managers are skeptical of this approach since they are not getting a full picture of the entire retail coverage, however, so long as you set the right sampling size and frequency this can be very effective at systematically finding issues and providing facts to the people needed to fix them.Remember that retail execution doesn’t always require hardcore statistical modeling.  You just need to make sure your products are placed correctly on the shelf, and to know whether or not they are your best selling accounts.  Doing as little as 10-20 audits per month or every two months across a wide set of accounts will provide your team with a good foundation for problem and opportunity identification.

ABC Sampling – Brands might use many methods of sampling, but one method is to group their stores into A, B, and C accounts based on top selling brands.  One of the best examples of ABC Sampling is to sample 10% of the top accounts and then 10% of the bottom accounts.This allows you to collect additional facts beyond data to help improve your sales team.   With additional information, you’ll be able to answer questions like, “Are the sets different?  Are stores having out of stock or other issues? Are your competitors doing things differently?”  Pictures can also help answer many questions compared to relying only on what the data provides you.

Full Account Audits – The last approach is auditing all of the stores.The economics of this sometimes w ork if you are a top selling brand and/or there are a large number of retail execution issues that require resolution.  The ability and ease of doing this has greatly increased recently do to crowdsourcing options and is also sometimes effective for doing initial baselining before moving to a more sampling based effort.

In summary, don’t just spend money to spot check accounts without a game plan, or use a repeatable system of performance management.  Instead, have a process to actually fix it. The last thing you need is another random data point that tells you things are off with no way to take action.    

The good news is doing all of this has become way easier today, compared to the past. For more information on audits or on execution fixes to common store condition problems, please reach out to us at shelvspace.

The Consumer products good Industry is going through yet another large transformation.   If you have been around long enough you remember the old sales days.  The transition from backpack size phones and beepers and early days of email and fax all the way to newest tablets and smart phones.    If you are still carrying around binders and big laptops you may also be feeling the pressure of being behind the curve.

Despite the conversation of mobile sales tools spanning across decades, it seems as though it hasn’t been until very recently that leading companies are truly unlocking the competitive advantage that a mobile sales platform can provide.   In a 2013 survey by GMA, only 7% of CPG companies had adopted mobile platforms but (more…)

The CPG industry is fiercely competitive with brands fighting for every inch of shelf space and market share.  Having a good product is not enough anymore… to really be a successful, you must find a way to stay ahead of your competition, and do it quickly.

To succeed in any business you must have a good product. But in the CPG industry, it is vital to stay on top of what is happening at retail today and ensure you are positioned to win the battle for the consumer’s business tomorrow, next week and next month.

The speed at which the best Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies take advantage of the latest consumer trends, respond to competitor’s promotions and pricing changes, and constantly deliver new product innovations and line extensions, has a direct correlation on their respective market share.

CPG Industry next Innovation – “Big Data”

If you ask almost any CPG executive, they will embarrassingly admit, they are behind other industries in regards technology and have been for a while. In the same breath, they will tell you what is needed and 9 times out of 10 it its data. And not just access to the data, many have that now, but the ability to analyze that data and make it actionable for sales teams in the field.  Whether it be distributor shipment data, or retailer scan data, the ability to analyze vast amounts of data instantly will unlock business intelligence and be instrumental in helping CPG companies win the battle for retail shelf space and ultimately consumer sales.

Imagine if you had the ability to instantly see what products were shipped to what stores; Or better yet, what products weren’t that should have been? What if you had the ability to see what products didn’t have a scan through the register in the last 3 weeks? Or the ability to benchmark high moving products in a particular area?

I think everyone would agree this information is invaluable. So while the data is available, the ability to process that data so a manager can analyze it, and get this information in the hands of reps, in a timely and digestible format just does not exist.

Shelvspace is currently establishing partnerships with some of the leading data providers in the CPG industry that will bring actionable data to the fingertips of your reps. Contact us today to see how we are innovating the way data is used in the CPG Industry.