Ever tried speed dating? The idea is to try and pre-qualify a potential date in as little time as possible, to determine if you’d like to pursue something with that person at a later point in time. While it may seem cold, the real premise of speed-dating stemmed from Yaacov Deyo’s idea that you could maximize the efficiency of dating by quickly qualifying or disqualifying a potential partner.
That was 1998. Today, 20 years later, technology has allowed the idea of speed dating to be executed in a single swipe as mobile has empowered singles to be in the driver’s seat, swiping their way to into their next relationship as they filter through a crowd of potential suitors. Believe it or not, speed dating has a surprising amount in common with in-store merchandising.
Just as mobile has empowered today’s singles, so has it empowered brands and retailers by utilizing the power of the crowd to introduce maximum efficiency into understanding and optimizing their retail execution. Below you’ll find Wiser’s approach to introducing maximum efficiency into your third-party in-store providers like brokers, shopper marketing teams, merchandisers, and the like.
Stop Visiting Every Store
Just as speed dating seeks to pre-qualify a potential date so that you don’t have to “waste” your time on a full-fledged date with someone who doesn’t meet your initial criteria, your in-store merchandising team should not be paying an unqualified visit to every single store in a channel.
Take a channel like Walmart, for example: imagine the time, effort and cost it would take (even for a large field team) to visit 4,600 Walmart stores. I’ve had brand clients in the past who were initially dead-set on visiting every store so that they could have their merchandisers “repair issues as they [find] them.”
When you consider that Walmart is typically between 47 percent and 76 percent compliant in display and in-store merchandising KPIs, that’s more than 2,100 stores your merchandisers could have avoided visiting by utilizing a service to pre-qualify your stores. They could accomplish this by using a crowdsourced provider to flag only the problem locations. Cost savings aside, the ability to course-correct those stores in need of a fix in a fraction of the time is enough benefit in and of itself.
Compliance Is Not Binary
In the past two years of working with brands and retailers, I’ve not only shared my own expertise by helping my clients make the most out of their in-store merchandising, but I’ve also absorbed a vast wealth of knowledge around what true compliance means to them. The biggest takeaway for me has been that compliance is not binary. There are subtleties of in-aisle execution that factor into compliance, even when displays are present, shelves are stocked, and pricing is accurate. Factors like lighting, facing count, damaged product, missing signage, missing security tags, and more all play into compliance. Arming a crowd (or “Bees,” as we call them) with a checklist of what to look for can not only help you visit stores in need of a fix but also assign the right type of field team to correct an issue.
All Problems Are Not Created Equal
Another benefit of pre-qualifying stores with a crowdsourced solution is the ability to utilize smartphone-enabled shoppers to correct those actions that don’t require a skilled repair person, a wrench, or a drill.
As a perfect example of this, let’s take a CPG client that wanted to understand their facing counts at several regional grocers. Wiser’s crowd was dispersed to collect the state of the chilled beverage section at over 1,000 stores nationally. The client was concerned that they simply weren’t getting the shelf slots that they were promised by their retailers. By understanding their objectives in advance, Wiser’s team built a Mission to address the in-store merchandising issue in an event that a shopper noticed a missing product, a product was not stocked, or was in the wrong section.
The solution entailed tracking down an associate and ensuring that they corrected the issue by expressing interest in the product. It was an elegant solution that our Bees could implement without any tools or skilled training. In less than a week’s time, Wiser’s Bees were deployed to collect data, had identified over 250 stores where the issue existed, and were able to rectify more than 80 percent of stock and facing issues. In this example, merchandisers were able to be reserved for high-value tasks and our crowd performed the light work the brand needed.
Save Your Resources
Merchandisers play an important role within brand and retail organizations. But there is a lack of efficiency when these key employees or third parties are deployed to every single store. Their time is valuable and is better used visiting stores with in-store merchandising challenges that only they have the expertise to solve.
All brands want to reduce costs, save resources, and course correct as quickly as possible. In order to do that, brands need to reserve sales field teams and merchandisers for complex problems. Illuminating where everyday shoppers can quickly rectify the situation and when corporate help is needed is an important distinction that Wiser helps leading brands discover.