Having a strong retail presence is all about making your product attractive and available to shoppers in order to capture sales. Consider this: up to 50% of consumers say they would switch to a different brand if their usual favorite experiences a merchandising mishap such as an out-of-stock or incorrect labeling. This is why constantly monitoring your brand’s performance on the shelf through in-store visits is a cornerstone to an effective retail strategy.
Properly monitoring your performance requires you to make the most out of your reps’ store visits by constantly acquiring and analyzing the data they collect in the field. The best way to go about this is to build retail reports to help you stay organized and on target. Retail reports are similar to retail audits, but can be conducted more frequently and target one specific aspect of your presence in the store.
In this article, we will go over three types of retail reports — merchandising field reports, promotion field reports, and competitor reports — that you can require from your reps to refine your retail strategy and boost your performance in the field.
Merchandising Field Report: The Essentials
For brands making a significant amount of their sales in-store, merchandising reports are highly insightful. Merchandising reports provide businesses with information regarding the conditions of their products on the shelf.
Perhaps one of their most valuable functions is that they help your field team consistently track inventory and avoid the dreaded out of stock, since when your product goes missing from the shelves, your brand takes a big hit. Not only is the consumer unable to purchase the product, but it may also lead to a product void, which occurs when the retailer fills up the empty space with another substitute brand. Here are the necessary components to include in your merchandising field report that will help you avoid these inventory issues:
- Product Availability: Are your products available on the shelf vs. in the back room? Record the stock across all product ranges.
- Out Of Stock: Which products are out of stock? How often does this occur?
- Units Ordered: How many units did you order and when?
- Retail Price: Is the displayed price in compliance with any changes?
- Discounts: Is your product on promotion? How long is the discount duration?
- Quality of Merchandising: How does your product look on the shelf? How organized/disorganized in a scale of 1 – 5?
- Communication with the Retailer: Did you negotiate any more placements in the store? What are the sales potential in this retailer? Did the manager have any comments?
- In-Store Activity: What was accomplished today?
- Photo & Signature: Obtain the signature of the retailers to sign off on the work you did in-store.
One of the most common challenges facing managers of remote field teams is the lack of visibility in the field. No matter how organized and extensive an organization’s onboarding and training programs are, once reps are in the field, they make their own decisions.
Since managers cannot be physically present with the reps at all times, the only method of gaining visibility in the field is through strong communication networks between back-office managers and reps in the field. While reps are in the field collecting important data, managers can then take those insights to improve back-office planning. The more quickly and frequently manager’s can receive real time data, the easier it is to constantly adapt and keep up with the ever-changing conditions of the industry.
Promotion Field Report: The Essentials
Promotional events, can help provide brands with a huge boost on engagement with new potential customers, but there’s no doubt they’re expensive to staff and execute. Measuring (and maximizing!) ROI depends on getting clear data about when and where your team executes events in the field, and how effective their tactics are. For brands looking to quantify success on a promotion, here is a list of metrics to track for a promotions report:
- Promotion Type: Is it a sampling, demo, trade show, etc.?
- Event: What was the occasion? Was it a holiday?
- Duration: What was the duration and timing of the promo?
- Products: What was being sampled? How many units of it?
- Position: Where were you physically positioned within the store or at the event?
- Number of Employees: How many employees staffed this event? Was this an appropriate number?
- Traffic: What was the foot traffic like during this event?
- Units: What was your beginning & ending inventory? Were any units sold due to this promotion?
- Photos: Attaching photos of the event helps managers visualize the event more effectively.
The guys from Grillo's Pickles made a name for themselves with their 2 for $1 promos!
Recording the results of all promotional events, either small or big, will prove beneficial in the future. Be sure to identify exactly what you are measuring your promotion’s success by beforehand — not only can and should you track certain key metrics during the event, but keep in mind the effect that the event will have on your everyday sales metrics in the following weeks and even months. If you maintain strong records of all of this data, you can gain important insights into the true effect of promotions on your sales over time.
Competitor Report: The Essentials
Brands that invest in field sales teams get an inside look on competitors’ performance whenever reps are out in the field. Innovative brands use their field teams to report on competitors’ price point, shelf position, market share, and more. Here are a few examples of what you should ask reps to look for when conducting a competitor report:
- Identifying Competitors: Who are your biggest competitors in this location? Which items are they successful with?
- Competitor Price: How does your competitor’s pricing differ with yours? Differences in sales between brands could be a result of strategic pricing.
- Competitor Promotions: Do they have any running promotions or events?
- Competitor Photo: This documentation will show merchandising efforts and packaging design by competitors.
- New Competitor Threat: Do you have a new neighbor on the shelf, or have any existing competitors scored more shelf space or launched a new product?
Competitive data allows managers and business owners to check industry trends in real-time. It provides insight on a micro, in-store level. It also delivers macro insights; for example, that your beverage competitors are all experimenting with coconut water. Collecting these insights provides opportunity to act on market changes whether its something store specific or proves to be industry wide.
Encouraging reps to conduct at least one of these three retail reports during any store visit undoubtedly provides you with more tools to go after your competition and make informed decisions in the field. Not only this, but having a constant flow of information can make everyone’s life a lot easier when conducting a formal quarterly report. Make clear to your reps your expectations for your reporting structure to be sure you are getting the most out of every in-store visit.
Melissa is a recent graduate of Northeastern University and a content marketing specialist at Repsly, Inc. She is committed to applying her skills in order to bring value to Repsly readers and customers. Outside of work, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, making music, and anything dog-related.