Drive to Growth with Repsly: 5 Best Practices for Field Teams in 2021

At Repsly, we’re constantly thinking about how we can continue to provide additional value to CPG brands and their field teams to win more at the shelf. In doing so, we’ve created the Drive to Growth series, where we’ll be breaking down some of the largest trends and opportunities impacting the retail space throughout the year.


On the inaugural episode, brand expert and Chief Customer Officer at Repsly, Matthew DePaolis, brings valuable context to the key trends we highlighted in our 2021 Retail Predictions piece.

Watch the full video below to discover all five trends and how field teams can capitalize on them, or continue scrolling to explore each trend individually.

 
 

Delivering on Safety and Trust

A recent survey found that 65 percent of respondents believe that a brand’s response during the pandemic will have a huge impact on their likelihood of purchasing it again. Sixty percent said that they are turning to brands that they absolutely can trust. So what can CPG brands and their field teams focus on?

Matt DePaolis: To keep it plain and simple, people. The people that make up their community and the people who keep their business running from day-to-day. That’s nothing new; what’s new is that people have been impacted and so businesses have an opportunity to demonstrate their care for people in a very tangible way; and the world is watching.

How are you seeing brands interacting with their communities to build trust?

MDP: Trust starts with understanding and empathy. And more than ever we have seen our partners engage and understand that in this pandemic, people have been impacted differently. Many brands like Spindrift Beverage Co. understand people need a little help and so have responded by donating products back to their community. Other brands like Dr. Oetker and Kraft Heinz see that parents are challenged more than ever to put together nutritious meals for their children who are homeschooling, and other brands, like Greenhouse Juice see the rise in homelessness and are taking action

 

How are you seeing Repsly’s business partners do this?

MDP: How a business takes care of it’s people says a lot; and making sure you are creating safe work conditions is of paramount priority. We are even seeing our partners using Repsly to help. For example, when COVID first hit, we saw folk’s using Repsly to work remotely, and when reps started going back to the field, they are using Repsly’s Orders module to order PPE, the Scheduling module to react to changing store hours & policies, and to push out tasks that focus on safe in-store activities and motions. And now we are seeing teams using Repsly for contact tracing and safety training. 

 

Digital Transformation

2020 was undoubtedly a monumental year for digital transformation in Retail, championed by brands that had a strong technology stack in place. What are your initial thoughts on this trend and how do you expect to see it continue to play out in the near future?

MDP: At its core, digital transformation enables businesses to be more agile and the pandemic has put a big spotlight on the need to be agile. Those businesses further along in their digital transformation journey with a solid technology infrastructure in-place were able to respond to changing conditions faster and win relative to their competition.

 

What about moving forward?

MDP: Moving forward, change is the only constant. We know that consumer buying patterns are shifting more quickly, and expanding distribution channels is creating greater need for Connectivity & Interoperability so that teams have visibility across channels.

 

Blended Team Strategies

We’ve been seeing some brands switching to blended team strategies with supplementing in-house reps with third- party merchandisers. What are your thoughts on the challenges and opportunities with this model, and is this a futureproof model for brands moving forward?

 

MDP: I love this strategy for a lot of reasons. If done correctly, it’s the best way for brands to boost coverage & manage through peaks and valleys of workforce demand while protecting cost and ultimately business margin.

When responding to challenges in the supply chain, reaching remote accounts, or executing on blitzs and promotions -- brands are challenged with over-investing in resources and travel. 

And COVID has put a big spotlight on difficulties with managing surges of demand to keep product on the shelf with a workforce who unpredictable could be impacted by COVID and become unavailable; resource management had never been more difficult and retail service providers have stepped up to assist in backfilling.

Now... like any strategy there are pros and cons… and to a large extent, brands can manage the challenges of a blended workforce by picking the right partners and integrating them into their retail execution strategies and solutions like Repsly. 

 

Promotions

While this past year saw the simplification of SKUs as brands focused heavily on their top-selling center-store products – which consequently reduced the number of promotions on SKUs around the perimeter, how do you think brands will move back into their promotional plans/strategies, now during COVID?

 

MDP: Promotions are personal; a brand’s promotional strategy is largely different based on their end consumers and retail partners. From a macro-level, we do know a couple of things. Through the end of COVID, consumer’s shopper mission are being optimized for safety; fewer trips and less time in-store. Which means less time scrutinizing differences in price. For retail team’s, the primary focus will remain on keeping stock available and easily accessible.

What about post-COVID?

MDP: Following COVID, economists looking back on history tell us that we expect consumers to have more of a “saver mentality”; which tells us pricing is going to be more heavily scrutinized, and a strong promotional strategy is even more important. 

How can field teams turn this into an opportunity?

MDP: It’s change. Change is an opportunity for everyone, in any business line. In today’s day-in-age, there is no such thing as standing still. If your retail execution strategy isn’t better today than it was yesterday, relative to your peers, you are falling behind. The businesses that are leveraging digital technology to most quickly identify & respond to changing marketing conditions, changing retail ecosystems, and changing consumer behaviors have a natural advantage over their competitors.

 

Data Management Strategy

What additional areas of focus do you see in the new year for brands and their field teams?

MDP: In a lot of ways, it will be a continuation of a theme we’ve seen in year’s past where we have seen a maturity in how manufacturers and retail service providers are using data to react quicker to changing conditions and make more informed business decisions to help them optimize their retail execution strategies and ultimately boost sales. 

Never has there been a time where access to data has been more prolific; it’s really an exciting time. Often, when we work with our business partners; we discuss their data management strategy, where they stand on their journey, and what next steps we’ll take to continue to evolve and mature it.

 

Repsly’s data management maturity framework has 4 stages:

  1. Planning.
  2. Infrastructure & enablement.
  3. Interoperability and enrichment.
  4. Continuous improvement.

How do these stages work?

MDP:

  1. It starts with developing a cohesive data management strategy & planning. You have to start the discussion with the end in mind. Ask your team, what insights will be used to make specific business decisions and specific actions to improve?

  2. Then we ensure the right systems and procedures are in-place to enable the team. That means, to ensure:
    • The ability to quickly gather and collect the 3 types of retail execution data.
    • The ability to quickly take tons and tons of data and present business insights to managers and stakeholders (who need to make business decisions) in a way that is easy to understand; without having to have data analytics degree or an interpreter. 
    • And in the same solution, the ability to use those business insights to take action by directing the retail execution team to focus on top business priorities. 

  3. The next stage of maturity focuses on interoperability. By integrating and merging data across multiple data sources, we are able to enrich insights and analyze the correlation between programs and teams.

  4. The final stage, which is in itself a continuous work-in-progress is to put in place procedures where by past program outcomes, are used to measure historic ROI, predict future outcomes, and improve future planning.

If you’d like to learn more about how your field team can excel in the 2021, please visit www.Repsly.com/blog. Subscribe to our blog below to never miss an episode of the Drive to Growth with Repsly.

Ben Weiner

Ben is Repsly's content marketing manager, focusing on digital storytelling through blogs, video and podcast production, and social media. He recently served as Bullhorn’s senior content marketing specialist and is also the founder of InVision Media, a video production company that helped small businesses promote their message. Before joining the workforce, Ben was the captain, president, and social media manager of the men's ice hockey team at the University of Maryland. In his spare time, he enjoys rollerblading with his dog Chewbacca, watching the Boston Bruins, listening to classic rock, and playing competitive games of Settlers of Catan. Follow Ben on Twitter: @bennybyline.

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