5 Steps to Gain More Control of Your Shelf Space

This is a guest article by John Duggan, Business Development Executive at Wiser.

In today’s hyper-competitive market, you have only seconds to sway a customer to purchase your product over a competitor. How you are positioned on the shelf is a key driver to impacting purchase behaviors and building an emotional connection with consumers.  

The Questions You Need to Ask About Your Shelf Space 

These are the key issues impacting sales that you should keep in mind:  

  • Are the right products in stock? 
  • Are your products priced correctly? 
  • Are promotions/signage properly placed? 
  • Is shelf space correctly allocated? 
  • Are associates trained and positioning your brand correctly? 

I know these are common sense questions, but we have all seen these issues. Most likely you are relying on retailers, third party vendors, or a stretched-thin field team to address them across thousands of stores. Unfortunately, even if you suspect that your products are not being properly presented, those responsible will either be unresponsive, deny, or too often pay lip service. The challenge is how to be in thousands of aisles quickly and cost effectively. If only there was a way to quickly visit, assess, and report back the status of your shelf health so you can make data driven decisions that drive growth.  

Leveraging the Crowd to Improve Your Performance at the Shelf 

The answer is “Use the crowd, Luke.” I just saw the new Star Wars trailer and couldn’t resist the reference, but the message stands. Today’s technology leaders from Waze to Uber are revolutionizing how we leverage the crowd and there is no better place for this technology than at the shelf.  

This is an image of the dairy section in a grocery store.

App-based crowdsourced intelligence platforms can vastly expand your reach into the retail world quickly and cost-effectively. If you undertake a crowdsourced study, the following five steps can help you to maximize the effectiveness of the data gathered and take back control to win at the shelf.  

1. Define the Goal of the Study: For example, a common theme is “How to best position us to win at the shelf.” Once you have defined the goal, mock up what the ideal reporting would look like. Use this to gather input from all key stakeholders. This can include marketing, sales, field teams, brand teams, distributors, and even retailers. Using a mock-up of the ideal study will help keep all stakeholders focused and provide key input to the design process without dragging on or delaying the study timeline.

2. Put an App to Work: Utilizing an app, summon the crowd to all retail locations you want to study. One trick to improve the data collected is to host a soft launch. A small batch of responses can potentially uncover holes in the data collected, issues with survey format or questionsand problems with the crowd acquiring all the requested data. This will enable you to fine-tune and massage the survey for a full blast and maximize its effectiveness. Once settled, fully launch the study. 

3. Analyze the Data: A good approach is to analyze the data through the lens of the study goals and focus on the key and most meaningful takeaways. The best way to share the data with stakeholders is presenting answers, not data. If done correctly you will have a deeper insight into your shelf health than ever before and a clear understanding of what needs to be addressed with actual data to support all conversations with field teams, retailers, etc.

4. Prioritize the Next StepsPrioritize and share the key findings so that positive attributes can be widely implemented and violations immediately addressed. This saves time as scarce resources can be used to maximize positive attributes as well as correct those in need.

5. Reward Top Performers and Focus Resources on Serial Offenders: Use the carrot, not the stick, to reward top performers and focus on serial offenders to improve performance. We have seen successful companies gamify the data collection process with top performers being acknowledged and rewarded. This takes strong stores to the next level and is an incentive for poorly performing stores to focus on the issues and improve their operations. 

How to Improve Shelf Health with Data 

If properly implemented, the study will provide a wealth of data – including photos – on the health of your shelf space. Here at Wiser, we recently partnered with a leading consumer electronics brand that relied on an elaborate display, including videos and special casing, to properly position and drive sales. The field data for compliant stores versus non-compliant stores identified that stores with poor displays were underperforming to the tune of $40 million in lost annual revenue.  

This clearly shows the power of shelf level intelligence. The data will support your efforts to work with and monitor retailers and field teams to ensure they put your best foot forward at the shelf. The results will help drive future in-store marketing initiatives as decisions will be more data driven leading to better displays and a stronger connection with consumers.  

About the Author

This is an image of John Duggan, Business Development Executive at Wiser.
John Duggan is a Business Development Executive helping Wiser’s clients grow their business through smarter data driven decisions. Prior to joining Wiser he created, secured funding and launched Coastline Research Group, which focused on package design testing and tracking. He holds a BA from University of Maine and an MBA from the University of Oregon.

Angelica Valentine

Angelica Valentine is a Marketing Consultant with several years of expertise in the retail sector. Her work has appeared on VentureBeat, Business Insider, SAP, and more. She holds a BA from Barnard College of Columbia University.

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