Store visits are an extremely important part of any team’s retail execution strategy. They provide an opportunity to collect important data insights about performance on the shelf, strengthen relationships with key retailers, and interact with potential buyers directly at the point of purchase.
In order to get the most out of your store visits, there are certain things every team should be sure to do before, during, and after each visit. This best practice guide provides you with key actions to include in your store visit strategy.
Check in with Store Employees
Store visits are a great opportunity to connect with the staff and educate them on your product. If staffers feel a personal connection to your brand, they will be much more likely to recommend it to store-goers when your team isn’t around — think of them as unofficial brand ambassadors. Additionally, store visits are a chance to connect directly with managers and/or owners, who are the decision-makers when it comes time to ask for additional displays or to run a promotion. Having them on your side gives you a leg up in any growth-based negotiations.
Set Clear Expectations and Goals for Reps
The expectations you have for one visit to the next will vary based on the goal of that visit. One week you may just need a team member to go into a store and do a quick check up on retailer compliance, but the next you may want them to go in and discuss opportunities for growth with a decision-maker. If your team is conducting visits without any real direction and acting based on intuition, the results of those visits will be inconsistent. If you instead define with your team what you expect them to achieve during each visit, you’ll receive a more consistent flow of data to inform your sales strategy. Additionally, this provides you with a concrete template upon which to evaluate reps’ effectiveness in the field.
Assign the Right Rep to the Right Job
With a large field team comes a large amount of talent, so use it to your advantage. While it may seem intuitive to simply assign a rep to a certain retailer or territory and be done with it, consider pulling different reps in to perform different types of visits based on their strengths. You may rely on one rep for data gathering and merchandising visits in a given area, but elect a more experienced team member when it comes to making growth-based sales visits. Making this distinction gives you more power to utilize the assets your reps bring with them to the field and more accurately delegate responsibility to the right people.
Share Data in Real Time
We live in the age of constant sharing, and that shouldn’t end at pictures from your weekend away or a repost of a favorite recipe. Consider the power that comes with sharing your store visit data in real time with both reps and managers. Rather than waiting for a weekly report to show your team that a certain merchandising technique is increasing success in the field, encourage your team to constantly share information from their visits with each other. This allows you and your team to act on insights in real time and make data-backed decisions. Streamlining this process by using retail execution tools will ensure organization and improve efficiency in the long run.
Make a Checklist
Making a checklist for each visit assists you in standardizing data collection during a store visit. Checklists can be especially helpful during data gathering visits which revolve around collecting observational data. If reps are armed with a set of items to report on every time they conduct a visit, data managers will see an increase in consistency both between different reps’ reports as well as over a period of time. This enables them to better identify trends and provide feedback to field team leaders on how to make smarter strategic decisions.