May 2, 2017

Shelvspace v2.8

Our 2.8 Product Release is out & we want to help.

We are here to help you learn to use the new features. We listened to you and made some adjustments to our product.

Filter by Form Activity

Can’t remember which stores you visited yesterday? Want to see which stores you haven’t yet visited in the last 30 days? Now you can answer that and more with a simple filter..

Email Form Results on the Fly 

Instantly take action on store execution issues and sales opportunities by quickly forwarding completed forms to the store distributor, merchandiser, manager, etc. In the store history page, simply open up the completed form and tap share.

Better Mapping. Better Searching 

The new search by location and improved mapping system make finding stores even easier. You can select a location from the map view or type in a city and all nearby stores will appear in order or distance from that location.

Improved Form Saving Workflow

Both iOS and Android versions now save form input automatically. Simply tap the back button at anytime and your form is saved ready for you to continue right back where you left off. Additionally you can now quickly identify stores that still have pending saved forms using the Last Visited filter. Tap to filter, scroll to the bottom, and select “Saved/Draft Forms”.

Edit Stores on Mobile 

Version 2.8 facilitates better store list management by allowing reps to edit stores right on mobile.

Questions or Suggestions?

Shelvspace is committed to bringing your the best mobile experience in the industry. Our in-house development team works tirelessly to release quality updates for feature enhancements, performance improvements, and bug fixes. If you have questions or need help with updating your app you can contact support or follow the article below:

https://shelvspace.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/115000606786

How Out-of-Stock Items Impact Your Business

It is a situation that we have all been through, at some point in our lives. We run out to grab our favorite brand of snack or worse a can of formula for our baby. Maybe even drive a little further than usual, because we saw it advertised on special and then get to the store and the shelves are empty.

As a consumer, it can be very inconvenient, if not infuriating, when you walk into a store and the item you are looking for is out of stock (OOS). As a retailer or a brand they effect can be much worse; it can be devastating to your bottom line.

How do consumers react?

Consumers can react in many different ways to items; they were hoping to buy, being out of stock.

Consumers respond to out-of-stock items in different ways:

  • They may switch stores and buy the same item at another retailer.
  • If they are a very loyal customer of the store and it is not a dire need, they may wait and buy the item later.
  • If they are loyal to the brand, they may substitute a different size or variety of the same product.
  • They may switch brands all together.
  • They won’t buy the item anywhere.

These are reactions that can be immediately seen at the POS (Point of sale), but the emotional or mental reaction can be much more telling. If the product has been heavily advertised and promoted, consumers may be left with a feeling of being let down or in extreme cases, of being baited. Both of these reactions can be detrimental to both the retailers and the brand’s image in the public eye.

Actual Cost; By the Numbers

It has been estimated in the FMCG sector alone that at any one time 7-10% of items are off the shelf due to being out of stock. According to the Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers of America promotional and fast selling items average being OOS in excess of 10% of the time and cost the retailers of the country a full 4% off of their annual sells margin.

In one recent joint study by Goizueta Business School at Emory University, The College of Business and Administration at the University of Colorado and the Institute of Technology Management at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, it was reported that customers will buy the same item at another retail outlet 21%-43% of the time, 25% of the time not make any purchase period and the rest of the time will opt for a similar but lower priced alternative. From the point of view of either a brand or a retail establishment, these add up to major profit losses, without even mentioning the loss of consumer confidence they may experience.

People are creatures of habit and operate as much on an emotional level as they do on a logical one. That is the basis of most modern advertising theory. By not delivering the product as promised, you may actually be doing more harm than good by advertising products that are not delivered and these wasted expenditures should also be factored in when calculating the impact that OOS products have on your company’s bottom line.

Conclusion

This is just most cursory of looks at a subject that, in fact, many books have been written on. It doesn’t even consider such factors as the disruptions that rush orders cause to warehousing centers and distribution networks trying to make up the missing stocks or the administrative cost associated with customer complaints.

Thankfully, though, with the help of evolving technology and the widespread availability of information sharing, through the use of cell phones and other modern devices, it is now much easier to monitor and correct stock shortages before they have a chance to disrupt your business or disappoint your customers.

Companies like Shelvspace make it possible to not only monitor and correct inventory levels before they become critical, even while you are on the go, they offer reporting and data mining opportunities the likes of which have never been available before.

The Industry’s new secret for increasing retail sales by 20% in 2017

The retail world has operated the same way for decades. Historical performance is measured by ACV, share of category or total dollars sold. Sales VPs are continually pressured to do more with less people and grow overall sales. Companies are continually playing the cat and mouse game of ongoing promotion cycles and incentives with distributors and retailers that create immediate sales but never really sure if they have ROI or grow the overall category.

What if we told you there was a simple way you could increase retail by up to 20% without adding any new product lines, changing your trade promotions, or hiring more sales people? Interested?

Well not only is it possible, but for those who don’t start adapting to the Industry’s new way of retail you are very likely to get left behind with eroding market share.

The secret is not really a secret, more of a movement. The 20% lost sales has been occurring for decades, but most companies feel helpless in doing anything about it. Missed promotions, wrong placements, out of stocks, out of compliance planograms. All the common retail execution challenges you have been fighting (or ignoring) for years are the answer to finding a quick 20% increase in sales.

The issue in the past is that due to fragmented data, communication, and time lags most companies have been helpless to impact this. By the time they realize execution of a promotion or new set is off, the window to fix it is already over. Or, if working through brokers or trying to get attention of retail buyers to help fix, they feel helpless and with little control to impact.

A movement in the Industry has begun to change this. This problem is not just a supplier problem, but brokers, distributors and retailers all benefit when these issues get resolved.

One reason for this problem not getting fixed in the past is that the measurement system has been very much outdated and underpowered to handle. Companies are solely relying on Scan or shipment data, which tell you what already happened, not what needs to get fixed. Sales and category managers have been stuck with archaic reporting systems. Companies collecting data from their field reps with apps are only getting a partial story with limited ability to impact broader retail opportunity.

The movement in CPG is to rethink the entire approach of data, mobile solution, crowdsourcing, and retail performance and make data actionable and real-time for sales teams. The movement is to look at not just data, but in-store pictures and activity in real-time. The movement relies on not just field teams, but on third party solutions and advanced automation to help ensure fixes occur.
In future blogs we will provide more examples of category leaders putting this into action.

Time to make 2017 the biggest growth year yet. You can do it by simply fixing what is broken!

For customized best practices, examples in your category, or a free audit in one of your key accounts click here.

In baseball, a .300 average is considered good hitting.
In school, 30 percent is a failing grade.

In marketing, 30 percent is … well, it depends.

This just goes to show that marketing isn’t about science. If it were, every single marketing initiative in every industry would have a single set number as a guidepost to determine success. But the reality is that marketing success is contextual – it depends a lot on the products being marketed, the audience and the environment in which the product is being marketed.And in the context of grocery and convenience stores, a 30-percent success rate (also known as a “compliance rate”) can be seen as more of a baseball result than a school report-card result.

(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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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.