Merchandising, CPG Tools & Tech

10 Best Uses for Mobile in Retail Merchandising

10_best_uses_for_mobile_in_retail_merchandisingWe have written quite a bit in recent months about the use of Mobile Technologies for Field Sales and Retail Merchandising, everything from tracking reps to taking photos and capturing competitive data. After some great feedback and discussion on the topic, we thought it would make sense to lay out our Top 10 Uses for Mobile Technology in Retail Merchandising. (Watch for a similar article focused on Field Sales coming soon!) Here they are:

  • Providing Reps with Client Information: When you send a rep out to do their job, they present themselves with much more professionalism and confidence when they know who they need to meet, & when and where they are expected to arrive. The most basic of mobile implementations will give the rep core information about the clients that they are servicing; the best will include detailed contact information, interactive maps to help them find their way and a history of the visits made earlier.

  • Detailed Work Instructions: It's one thing for a rep to find their way to the client, and to know who the store manager is… it's equally as important to know exactly what needs to be done on site. Paper instructions are only as accurate as they were when they were printed; good mobile implementations let you update your work instructions and instantly distribute them to reps in the field.

  • Retail Compliance Checking: Using a mobile solution for retail compliance checking gives you instant information about any holes in your retail execution campaign. If a rep finds discrepancies, and can document them accurately with electronic forms and photos, you will be empowered to correct the problem immediately. With paper solutions, you might not know about issues until long after the campaign is over.

  • Competitive Analysis: Equipping your reps with an easy way to collect information about your competition is the easiest way to get relevant and meaningful data about how they are fighting for your space. Create 'Eyes and Ears' reports where reps can report back on what they see, as well as structured pricing and presence data collection forms.

  • Coverage Analysis: When your reps are using mobile technologies to complete their on-site work, you can analyze much more than the data they are explicitly reporting. The least expensive, easiest to implement mobile technologies (SmartPhones that your reps are already using), can collect time and location information along with the forms and photos that the reps provide. You don't need to be 'Big Brother' to see which stores are getting visits, how long the visits take, which activities are getting done there and when they are getting done. All of this information can provide you with great insights as to how well your outlets are being covered, and enable you to make informed decisions about how to realign and motivate reps in the field.

  • Photo Documentation: With a SmartPhone in every pocket, you also have a high definition camera in every outlet that your reps visit. Make sure that you leverage this resource to give you the indisputable details about shelf and store conditions.

  • Price Checks: Being able to easily analyze your product velocity in relation to actual on shelf pricing is easy to do if you have a mobile solution that allows you to capture SKU level pricing at the outlet level. Possibly more meaningful are the changes in pricing when your product is promoted, or how your competitor's prices impact your sales.

  • Communication: Almost all modern mobile merchandising solutions are based on SmartPhones or Consumer oriented Tablet computers. These are inherently good at creating a communication channel between management and the field. Great mobile solutions integrate these communication channels into the same application that reps use when in the store with direct messaging, broadcast messaging and bulletin board announcements that keep reps informed and keep communications alive throughout the organization.

  • Removing Administrative Tasks: Well-designed mobile retail merchandising solutions collect bits of information throughout the rep's work day, and consolidate them for the rep so there is no need to fill out individual visit report summaries, daily or weekly recaps. All of the data that you need about your products and your rep's work process is captured automatically throughout the day so your reps can spend their time focused on valuable tasks, not administration.

  • Killing Out-of-Stocks: Maybe we saved the best for last… One of the biggest killers in retail is the dreaded Out-of-Stock. If your product is not on the shelf when a consumer wants to buy, the chances are very high that a competitor will take your place. One of the primary focuses of your mobile merchandising solution should be to look for and report situations that may turn into out-of-stock so you can correct the problem before it happens. Use your mobile data collection tools to identify patterns in stock levels, and to call out low stock or low back-stock situations. Your reps are in the store and can let you know about these situations before the Point of Sales reports are even generated, giving you the ability to correct distribution problems in real time!

The fact is that implementing mobile solutions for retail merchandising has never been easier or less expensive. The benefits that your organization will receive are numerous and potentially huge!

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Matthew Brogie

Mat Brogie is part of the founding team, and CEO of Repsly, the world's leading solution for high performance retail execution teams. Mat has spent the past 15 years of his career focused on bringing technology enabled business solutions to the consumer goods industry, having implemented solutions for tens of thousands of field reps at companies such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Pepperidge Farm and hundreds of others.

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