CPG Tools & Tech, Technology, Thought-Leadership

Webinar Recap: Yielding Higher ROI on Retail Execution in 2024

Webinar Recap: Yielding Higher ROI on Retail Execution in 2024

2024 brings with it a breath of fresh air for CPG and Retail Service organizations. As inflation settles down and retail sales start to climb back up, CPG leaders are feeling much more confident than they have in recent years and are actively refocusing on execution at the shelf. They’re eager to make this year a success by investing more in retail execution technology—a trend we reported on in detail in our 2024 Retail Outlook Report.

Repsly CEO Mat Brogie recently sat down with industry leaders from Vibrant, ABinBev, and SAS Sales and Marketing to discuss their key priorities in this new “post-post Covid” retail landscape, including how they’re leveraging data and technology, how they’re measuring their teams’ performance, and what they’re doing to get the most ROI out of their retail execution this year.

The market has rebounded. Now what? 

The retail landscape is stabilizing, fears of recession have all but disappeared, and consumers continue to shift back to their pre-covid shopping habits. Given this, Brogie noted, CPG leaders are more bullish about what’s ahead. “More than half of the respondents [in our 2024 Outlook Report] are talking about investments they're making in technology, in teams, and in being able to execute better across the board. They're looking at ways to improve efficiency. They're looking at ways to drive sales and profitability again.” 

This is certainly the case for global beer giant AB-InBev, according to Samir Bhiwapurkar, a business development manager for the company’s on-site consumption division. Leveraging data more effectively is a key part of AB-InBev’s strategy: “In 2023, we put a lot of resources toward building data,” said Bhiwapurkar. “What we aim to do in 2024 is utilize that data better, enhance it internally, then link it to our decision making.” For example, by tracking metrics as simple as Google ratings and demographics for the bars where AB-InBev brands have taps, the company can make smarter choices about where to focus their efforts with each brand. 

Smart use of data is also a priority for Montreal-based Vibrant Marketing as a means of delivering greater value to their clients and their clients’ brands, according to National Sales Director Jean-Francois Montcalm. Says Montcalm, “We could stick to the basics—making sure the shelves are full, the price tags are there, displays are up and running. But we need to find innovative ways to differentiate ourselves from the other third-party agencies out there in the market.” The way they’re doing this is by finding new ways to organize and package the execution data they collect, sending it back to the clients in an actionable form, with insights that can help them leverage opportunities in-store.

Industry leaders are investing more in technology.

As the 2024 Outlook Report revealed, companies are moving more bullishly into their control and command of retail, chiefly by investing more in the latest retail technology. One of the most prominent tools is AI-powered Image Recognition, which nearly 50% of our survey respondents are currently using or exploring.

All three participants in the chat said they’re excited about the potential of Image Recognition for their businesses. Andy Stallone, CEO & Founder of Florida-based SAS Marketing, which serves new and emerging beverage and snack product brands, noted that his reps make a combined thousand or more store visits per month. They collect an extraordinary number of shelf photos, which they currently have to sort through manually. “If we’re able to use AI image recognition to get down to a manageable amount of data and send just the most important things to our brands, I think that would be an amazing benefit,” he said.

Stallone also noted that it’s still the early days of AI, and things are changing fast. Brogie concurred. What Repsly tries to do, he explained, is help our customers sort through all that noise and identify the technologies that make the most sense. “We tend to be a little bit more conservative, and make sure things actually work—that you can actually get them implemented quickly and easily—before taking any business risks.” The good news, he added, is that Image Recognition and other AI tools are quickly becoming more usable, and better able to deliver ROI.

Empowering Field Teams

One thing that came through loud and clear in the 2024 Outlook Report is that CPG and retail service leaders recognize the impact that their field/merchandising teams make. They’re leaning on technology to help them do even more when it comes to merchandising, relationship building, customer engagement, and education. Brogie asked the chat participants how they measure success for their field teams and how they planned to help them be successful in 2024. 

Montcalm said that one area where Vibrant Marketing is exploring new ways to support their teams’ success is route optimization—helping their teams spend less time on the road and more time in-store. Brogie noted that this is an area where AI is likely to be able to make a significant impact in the near future. 

Bhiwapurkar said, “When we talk about measures of success, I recall a recent conversation that I was having a friend, who said ‘I was completely healthy–until I did a full body scan.’” In a fast-paced environment, he said, setting clear KPIs and measuring the actions being taken by reps is vital. AB-InBev tries to ensure that teams aren’t burdened by their targets, but that they have what they need to tackle any issues and turn those targets into achievements. To that end, he says, it’s essential to make all available data visible and as easy as possible for usage.

For Stallone, the tried-and-true approach of setting and tracking clear goals, with help from Repsly, is central to his team’s success. “There’s a lot of big picture stuff we need to get done for brands,” he said, “especially early-stage brands we're launching. But at the end of the day, there's a lot of just nuts and bolts stuff that needs to get done. They need to be on the shelf. They need to be in the right position. Point of sale needs to be up. And we need to give them all of that data so that they can see what's working and what's not working. And that's what we try to do for all our brands.” 

Wrapping things up, Brogie reiterated that while Repsly will always bring its clients advancements in technology as they become viable for their business, we’ll never force technology on them for technology's sake. “We're going to try and keep things very manageable, very straightforward from an operational perspective,” said Brogie. “Underneath it all, it's still really about core execution.”

At Repsly, we’re excited about how CPGs leaders are leveraging data, embracing technological innovation, and taking proactive steps to optimize their execution at the shelf. Schedule a demo to see how we can help your organization do the same.

Download the 2024 Outlook Report

As the retail landscape continues to evolve, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of the latest trends and challenges. Download our report today to see how more than 160+ CG executives and field leaders are strategizing for 2024.

Sara Bullock

Sara Bullock serves as the Growth Marketing Manager at Repsly, specializing in go-to-market strategy. With a focus on content, demand generation, social media, and digital marketing, she excels in driving strategic growth for the company.

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