Your product is established. You’re finally finding that retailers are interested in having you on their shelves, and your product is selling like hotcakes. While everything seems great, you may notice that shipment orders are getting smaller from certain retailers. It may not seem very important, but recognizing trends in your order management system for both individual retailers and your overall distribution is critical if you want to stop small problems from becoming big ones. Here are some of the most important take-aways business owners and managers should look for in their order management system.
Smooth Out Your Order Fulfillment Process
According to a case study from the International Journal of Production Economics, “47% of firms only focus on developing smooth internal processes.” To maintain a healthy relationship with retailers, make sure that your product is produced, shipped, and stocked in a way that is beneficial to you, the retailer, and the customer at every step of the process. If your product is often returned by consumers, or is constantly out of stock, retailers may not want to deal with the hassle of restocking. Talk to retailers as soon as you begin to see trends like this developing, and discuss a mutual strategy that will make the sipment process more efficient and keep the retailer happy.
Pay Attention to Patterns and Trends
Another possibility is that a retailer decreasing orders of your product may be related to variables out of your control, such as the economy, or a preferred brand. In these instances, seeing trends begin to develop may allow you to target different types of retail channels before your current ones shrink or phase out. Watching to see where your product and your competitor’s products are seeing the largest growth can give great insight into where consumers are bringing their business in the near future. For an example of how location has an impact on product availability, look to this recent article published by The Washington Post which says that “outlet malls are the fastest growing segment in retail, and that’s not about to change.”
Use the Right Order Entry Software
So how exactly can you keep track of these trends? Having field management or Order Entry software allows you to create the data collection tools needed to gather whatever data you want. Create forms that field representatives or retailers can fill out and track customer satisfaction, greatest concerns with the product, and of course, sales. Compiling the results from all of your forms will help to visualize the biggest strengths and weaknesses your product has at that moment.
Take for example, the case of Keune, a hair cosmetics company based in the Netherlands. Prior to implementing a field management software solution, Keune was manually counting orders in-store, and physically delivering the data to management at their offices. Not only was this process time-consuming for Keune, but it slowed down overall sales for the product, something that can seriously discourage retailers from restocking. After implementing a field management software solution, Keune saw a significant rise in sales volume, and also a minimized need for communication between themselves and their retailers.
Check-Up on Your Retailers
Getting a product into a retail location is a fantastic achievement, and to preserve that achievement, regular maintenance of retailer relationships is a must. Complacency can be the biggest enemy of an established brand, and there are plenty of other products vying for your spot. With the right tools, mindset, and attention to detail, managers and business owners can stay ahead of the competition and continue to grow.