In the world of retail, store visits are critical to maintaining a strong in-store presence and ultimately making sales. but not all store visits are made equal. A store visit to conduct merchandising is far different from a visit made to negotiate with a retailer.
In this post, we will break down three different types of store visits as well as provide best practices for conducting each, so you can ensure your reps are getting the most value out of each action they are taking in the store.
Data Gathering Visits
Data gathering visits are your reps most frequent touch points in-store and typically require the least amount of time and money. Think of these visits as routine drop ins that reps make to collect observational data that they then relay back to managers.
Actions taken during data gathering visits may include checking stock levels, evaluating retailer compliance, and monitoring competitor activity. Because these visits require little product knowledge or sales chops, brands typically don't have to spend much on each data gathering visit. They can be executed by hourly workers, third-party partners, or even crowd sourced. Despite costing less to execute, these visits provide managers with valuable insights into the field that can help them make more informed decisions regarding the team’s overall sales strategy.
Best Practices for Data Gathering Visits:
- Have a checklist in place for reps to follow during each visit to ensure consistency of reporting.
- Utilize a system that allows for real-time data reporting that can be accessed both by other reps in the field as well as managers in the back office.
- Gather data about your competitors as well. Data gathering visits are a great time for reps to evaluate what is new or changing in your category, so collecting competitor insight is crucial.
Merchandising visits require a larger investment of resources and are related to maintaining a strong retail presence. These are visits reps make when they are setting up or breaking down displays, replenishing stock, or conducting in-store promotions.
Merchandising visits involve direct action at the point-of-purchase and require a larger investment than data gathering visits, as they are more time consuming and should be executed by experienced brand reps. When assigning a rep to a merchandising visit, you want to be sure that they are knowledgeable both of your products and the retailer they are taking action in. They are extremely valuable given the detriment that can come with an out-of-stock as well as the sales boost that can result from an in-store demo.
Best Practices for Merchandising Visits:
- Always use these visits as an opportunity to speak to the retailer. Whenever making changes in the aisle, it is important to notify the retailer both as a courtesy and as an opportunity for relationship building.
- Use insights from data gathering visits to inform the frequency of merchandising visits. If on a data gathering visit, a rep notices stock is running low, real-time reporting of this information can allow you to quickly schedule a merchandising visit to replenish your product.
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Growth-Based Sales Visits
Growth-based sales visits are the most resource intensive but can generate some of the highest immediate returns. Reps conduct these visits in order to negotiate with retailers, conduct a category review, or secure placement of a new product. A well-executed growth-based sales visit can result in stronger retailer relationships and an increase of shelf space for your product, which supports your team’s ultimate goal of growing market share in key accounts or territories.
Best Practices for Growth Based Visits:
- Go in armed with data. Using the information you’ve collected during data gathering and merchandising visits, you can make a strong case for why your brand deserves more shelf real estate.
- Choose your rep wisely. You’ll want to decide for each individual account whether it is a better idea to send in a rep that has an ongoing relationship with the retailer, or one that is highly skilled at closing deals during growth-based visits.
- Plan far ahead. If you know a growth-based visit is coming up soon, use your other visits leading up to it to set yourself up for success by focusing on deriving insights during each visit that position you as a valuable shelf tenant.
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.