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Insights and Studies, Territory Management, Field Marketing, Technology, Field Sales

One Year Later: Retail Leaders Reflect on Lessons & Learnings From COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges and obstacles throughout the 2020 calendar year, forcing many companies to re-examine how they work and operate from the top-down. For many CPG brands and their field teams this, unfortunately, meant reducing headcount, following strict protocols and guidelines, and embracing uncertainty in a time of tumultuous change.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve shined a spotlight on a few incredibly resilient brands and their field teams, highlighting the agile decisions they made to stay resilient through even the most trying times that have become mainstays in their operations. 

Below is an anthology of learnings, lessons, and innovations from the teams at Novamex, Greenhouse, and Market Recon that your team can try today to navigate through the changing retail landscape.

 

Innovating to Serve “Stock-Up” Missions

"Since Greenhouse is a vertically integrated company, we were able to pivot our innovation in the back half of the year to focus on filling the multipack consumer needs. We launched a new booster four-pack (including our top-selling Fiery Ginger), 1L Kombucha, and expanded our offering in the booster category with two new SKUs: Pick Me Up and Lullaby, which have been really successful for our sales.

In prior years we suspected there was a need for the multipack, but the reduction in shopping trips only confirmed this, and it was apparent that we needed to speed up the innovation on that especially as shoppers began stocking up on SKUs this past year." - Kate Teeter, Field Merchandising Manager, Greenhouse Juice Co.

 

Restructuring Territory Mapping

"One of the main issues that we immediately found was that we had schedules that were all over the place when COVID hit due to some stores shutting down and others limiting access for brokers at varying locations.

With Repsly, we were able to very quickly map where those shutdown and restricted stores were and identify how many of those stores each rep in their territory. We could then go into the specifics of each store and see what activities we were and weren’t able to complete as well as how long each rep spent in the store before and during COVID, which allowed us to quickly reroute our reps so that they could focus on the stores where they were able to have the biggest impact." - Mathew Clark, President, Market Recon

 

Backing Decisions with Data

"We’ve identified five interventions that could take place in a store for a rep and assigned a dollar value for each intervention. From phantom inventory to orders placed, to pack-outs, price-tag correction, and lost facing corrections, we can show from a national level down to a provincial level and store level the effect that our reps have in each store, and the return on investment that we’re providing to this client. This is quantitative data that backs up what they’re doing, and every time we show it to someone on the client-side, they are completely floored by it." - Mathew Clark, President, Market Recon


"Data plays a huge role in how our field team works every year. It’s definitely a game-changer. As a company, we’re constantly trying to take advantage of technology and data with everything we do. We use data to propel the business forward and help our reps do their job. Data helps our communications, to optimize execution, track gaps and improvements, and also to follow up on our marketing promotions." - Fernando Yamamoto, Field Sales Support, Novamex


"Having a tool like Repsly allows us as well as our clients to sleep at night knowing that if something were to go off the rails, it's very easy to identify that early on.  We can give our reps the freedom to go run their territories as their business unit knowing that we have our finger on the pulse through Repsly – it's all real-time information. If things go awry, we can quickly reach out to that rep and through the use of data, say, ‘What's going on here and store A, B, and C? We noticed that your metrics are off a little bit.’"  - Mathew Clark, President, Market Recon

 

Empowering Reps to Collaborate Every Day

"We don’t just use Repsly for the data component, but also as an engagement tool, giving the team visibility into the other reps to entice some friendly competition or to humble brag about their placements, and ultimately, to support each other and share ideas. It’s something that we're really pushing for this year. The team's been great at using it in the past, but we’re making that an even bigger focus in 2021." - Kate Teeter, Field Merchandising Manager, Greenhouse Juice Co.

 

Tracking Competitive SKUs

"Repsly continues to play a critical role in how we get and receive feedback from the field team. Our field team uses the notes section to give additional context of their store visits and conversations with Store Managers. We’ve also been able to leverage Repsly to track visibility on what our competitors are coming out with." - Kate Teeter, Field Merchandising Manager, Greenhouse Juice Co.


"You could call it the biggest crisis in grocery history or the biggest opportunity. We’re always tracking our products but we’re also always looking at our competitors, and right away as the pandemic began we recognized a competitive SKU going out-of-stock for weeks on end. We relayed this data to the brand and they made sure they had enough stock for not only their brand but to fill the hole of the competitor as well." - Mathew Clark, President, Market Recon

 

Enabling a Team of Power-Users

"It’s always worth taking the time to enable your organization to use your tech stack to its fullest extent. The pandemic forced us to do it, but fortunately, we had Repsly." - Fernando Yamamoto, Field Sales Support, Novamex


"Since every province had its own rules and regulations regarding safety, we were using Repsly as a communication hub to stream information and updates to our field team, and it became an essential piece in navigating the past year by keeping people informed and alleviating any concerns." - Mathew Clark, President, Market Recon


"Lean into your technology, whether your retail execution platform is Repsly or not, it’s important to take the time to stop, retrain, and re-enable everyone in your organization – not just your field users – how to use the tools you have to their full capacity and potential." - Fernando Yamamoto, Field Sales Support, Novamex

 

Deploying Safety Measures in the Field

"We used Repsly to tag different stores that have guideline changes or new requirements like face shield, entering through side or back entrances, or signing in through a third-party. When you’re managing a territory of 70 to 80 stores, this can become a daunting and confusing task, but with Repsly we can send out an alert in the morning, chat with our teams as a reminder, as well as leave a note in the app that a store has a particular safety protocol." - Mathew Clark, President, Market Recon


"We wanted to make sure that they have PPE and we put protocols into place, and we do have a form on the Repsly app that they check their symptoms each day before going out into the field just to make sure that nobody is going out into the field with potential symptoms.

We’re fully transparent throughout the company to ensure that nobody from our team is going out into the field or into our production facility with COVID symptoms. Since the field team lives on Repsly all day, it seemed like a natural fit for the COVID form to live on the app."  - Kate Teeter, Field Merchandising Manager, Greenhouse Juice Co.

 

Changing Scheduled Visit Hours

"We were able to leverage the information from our retail execution platform in a really cool way, which was going back to the stores and explaining that we can see when their peak times for shoppers are in the stores – so we requested access for our reps an hour before they open and an hour after they close so we're not in there during peak times with customers and we're not impacting their bottom line." - Mathew Clark, President, Market Recon


Interested in hearing more strategic changes field teams took this past year that greatly benefited their business? Check out this free on-demand webinar for a deep dive at the resilient and innovative changes Market Recon made in the field during COVID-19 that you can apply to your brand today.

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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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