It doesn't take an Ivy League MBA to recognize that a field organization can perform better, and contribute more to the corporate goals if it can become more efficient, but what is the best way for Retail Merchandising organizations to achieve better efficiencies? Traditional methods of streamlining involve nip/tuck attempts at cutting costs, and making small adjustments to tools and processes often lead to more trouble in adoption and implementation than they end up being worth.
Pairing today's mobile technology with powerful Field Activity Management tools allows merchandising companies to become more efficient both in the field and in the back end while also streamlining the practical processes, more effectively saving time, money, and energy. The best Field Activity Management solutions help retail merchandising companies to become more efficient both in the field and in the by making data easier to collect, manage, and access in the field and on the back end.
In the field, Reps need tools that access all of the data they need while meeting with customers or visiting work sites. Instead of being left to remember (which usually means forget!) specific details, reps should be enabled to access any detail they may need for customer reference. Using photo documentation can provide reps with a visual archive at their fingertips, giving them the ability to review past in-store performance and standards, as well as allow them to document current performance.
Combining this with flexible forms and surveys, gives field reps access to the entire customer history at their fingertips, bolstering their knowledge and ability to answer questions and solve problems more efficiently while they are merchandising shelves or building replenishment orders.
On the back end, field managers should have streamlined access to the data that their reps collect and report in real time, and in friendly and accessible formats. Eliminating cumbersome Excel spreadsheets and (even worse) pen-and-paper records can dramatically improve field managers' ability to benefit from the data coming in from the field. The most efficient field merchandising organizations have tools and processes in place that streamline data collection, and make that data available in real time to manager in a format that is instantly meaningful.
Merchandising organizations that are looking to improve efficiency should seek out solutions that balance ease of implementation and deployment with powerful capabilities around data capture in the field and data analysis on the back end. The latest Field Activity Management solutions leverage common SmartPhones and Tablets in the field, and simple to configure and use cloud-based consoles for back office users.
These solutions can be implemented with little or no IT support, and can be customized by business managers to meet the exact data collection, process and team management needs of most Field Merchandising organizations. The evolution of mobile and cloud based solutions has finally come together in a way that Retail Merchandising organizations can make themselves significantly more efficient and productive without Ivy League MBAs re-inventing the business!
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.