Merchandising is an industry that demands incredible attention to detail and an organized system of communication. While many managers have a system in place that runs smoothly, regularly checking that every aspect of the managerial system is set-up and being performed correctly is always a good idea. Without further ado, here is our checklist of merchandising manager essentials.
Are you tracking sales history and location for each product?
Merchandising managers should be using software to track sales for individual products and also tracking their shelf and in-store locations. Equipping field reps with data collection software on their mobile devices will allow them not only to make sure that every product is being sold in the location agreed to by the retailer, but to take photos of those locations so you can visualize the data being collected and determine which spots you should be negotiating for in the future. Certain products sell much better just one shelf space higher.
Are your employees surveying retail managers?
If not, they need to be. The more retail locations being managed, the easier it is for problems and conflicts to go overlooked, and the more opportunities competitors have to take over your position. Have employees ask retail managers what they’d like to see improved, if they have any major grievances they need taken care of at the moment, and then have the rep explain any future changes being made so that retailers aren’t caught off guard. Creating and monitoring strong relationships with retailers leads to a mutually beneficial situation.
Do Your Employees Have a Team Schedule?
Proper logistics is a huge part of making a retail merchandising team successful. While many employees maintain personal schedules to keep track of their clients and priorities, managers should encourage all employees to use a collaborative schedule. There are many software applications available online that allow for real-time collaboration, and making sure that everybody knows where their coworkers are at all times is a good way to avoid conflicts or mistakes when assigning merchandising reps.
Are Your Team Members Strangers to Each Other?
In a work environment that requires constant movement in the field, it can be difficult for team members to build the bonds that naturally form among coworkers in an office setting. There are a number of strategies managers can use to build a sense of teamwork in their field merchandisers, but one of the best ways is by offering them incentives. For example, offering to pay for your employees to go out to lunch together may be the push they need to finally talk to each other and build a working relationship. This kind of team-building has two primary effects. First, it makes employee communication in the field less reluctant and more personal—in general, more communication is a good thing when dealing with a logistical organization. Second, each individual team member is more likely to care about his or her performance if they think that they will be letting down their team members by under-performing. Team-building should be a high priority for any organization utilizing reps in the field.
These 5 tips should serve as a guide to merchandising managers who want to evaluate the system that their team in the field is currently working within. Monitoring and evaluating individual team members is extremely important, and is something that should not be overlooked, but even the best merchandising reps will under-perform if the environment they are in is not optimized.
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.