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CPM Expert Speak: Aligning Merchandising & Auditing to Benefit the Brand

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Throughout my 12+ years experience working within the Field Marketing industry, I have witnessed that Brands utilize merchandising and auditing tactics to actually visualize their products at retailers. However, I always ask myself a question: “Are they really making an efficient investment?”

 

From the traditional…

 

In any product visualization project at Point-of-Sale, it is easy for every field marketer to propose a traditional execution plan which includes a two- phase process:

 

Merchandising phase: In Vietnam, this action is typically done by the distributor’s field sales team with the mindset of saving costs and incidental tasks of daily sales visits. On the other hand, Brands have to acknowledge that they cannot measure the effectiveness of product displays on a daily basis.

 

Auditing phase: Certain Brands who look to effectively measure sales, often hire an outsourced sales agency to ensure there is a balance between the brands’ benefits and stores’ benefits.

 

There have been numerous cases where Brands have negotiated a paid share of shelf space within a retail environment and later discovered that the products were only displayed during audit days. This not only impacts a Brand’s in-store visibility but also diminishes sales opportunities through a limited share of shelf within the store.

 

Many Brands choose to outsource their merchandising teams via their distributors with the goal of aligning both brand benefits and distributor benefits. Yet, in Vietnam this is often not the case and I would argue that product visibility is not top priority to distributors. Distributors are happy to work with this model as it enables them to gain access to free labor resource to leverage daily workload such as delivery, sales for others products, moving goods and less of the store’s merchandising tasks.

 

Therefore, how can we drive efficiencies and competitive advantage through merchandising and auditing activities?

The rise of automated technology in retail marketing

 

Through ongoing digital technology evolution within the retail space; many Brands have focused on field automation. Field Automation not only eliminates paper, speeds up data transfer and supports real-time analytics and reporting; it also enables Brands to effectively track sales and stock instantaneously. Vietnam, as a country, is slowly developing these technologies. CPM Vietnam are one of few outsourced sales agencies who have developed Cloud Reporting; an integrated field and web reporting application designed to provide Brands with real-time reports including store evaluation dashboards, store sales histories, etc.

 

How does it work?

 

Cloud Reporting is a combination of two platforms: field application and web reporting and both are synchronized via a cloud based server.

                         

Mobile application: Field Sales Teams can easily install the application on their smartphone or tablet. This application acts as a virtual office, enabling them to submit every requested report on the field such as: display status, in-store promotions compliance, store feedback, photos and even capture out-of-stock. For this reason, our sales teams are effectively able to drive sales opportunities and minimize out of stock incidences.  

 

Web report: Once field sales teams upload their reports into the cloud server, Brands can view store compliance and sales in an instant.

 

As an advocate for growth and development at CPM Vietnam; I am continuously looking at ways to develop our service offering to support our client Brands and align with future market trends. For this reason, I thought why don’t we combine merchandising and auditing and go beyond consumers’ expectations!

 

The core challenge behind this being: How can we convince Brands to change their mindsets of separating merchandising and auditing and how can we gain store owners’ trust from our monthly display judgment?

 

The innovation…

 

The concept is simple: Merchandisers will visit each store four times per month, which is once per week to support stores to display goods and comply with planograms, record store’s display status, current stock level based on required quantity of each SKU, and take photos of brand visibility and proof of visit. Then, this data is processed through an auditing team to calculate average stock level, display position, planogram compliance and if the store achieves an 80% or above score, this is considered within target. Of course, unsuccessful visits such as: temporary closure, store does not wish to continue stocking products; are also recorded and taken into consideration.

 

Technology has played an important role in this concept as it records and keeps all data in one place; within the Cloud Server with the ability to export into excel files at the touch of a button. CPM Vietnam can keep its reporting deadline with their clients. More importantly, Cloud Reporting can be developed and customized to the bespoke needs of each client, so that, they are confident in deploying this new concept into their business.

 

Proof is in the pudding

 

In any circumstance, a concept which is applicable should go match the requisite KPIs of our clients. What benefits would Brands take into consideration by deploying this concept? One of the key benefits to be achieved is cost efficiencies and cost reduction through the elimination of the auditing phase.

 

Moreover, Brands can reap the following benefits:

  • Enhance their in store share of shelf
  • Maintain brand visibility and agreed shelf space as per planogram
  • Increase brand image and brand awareness
  • Existing and historical data is controlled and monitored in one platform: Cloud         reporting
  • Increase sales opportunities by sharing out-of-stock real-time reporting with the sales team
  • Increased store satisfaction
  • Cost effectiveness can be measured
  • Real-time insights to drive informed decisions

 

In Vietnam, CPM Vietnam has been successful in launching this concept with some of our blue chip client base. The initial results have shown that our clients are extremely happy with the improved compliance and visibility in-store, the increased store attention in driving sales for our client brands and the effective stock control to drive increased sales.

 

Act Now or Never

 

By leveraging this concept, CPM Vietnam has been able to root our business into our clients’ business because by keeping our clients’ data safe and secure in one Cloud server. Moreover, by joining with our clients’ sales teams and gaining a sustainable relationship with stores, we now act as the eyes and ears of our clients in store and are able to keep them updated on all retail industry trends.

 

As the leading agency in this field, CPM Vietnam are excited about developing this aligned merchandising and auditing service further and to driving forward our clients in-store visibility , stock control and sales growth.

 

For further information on this service, please contact Huan directly at: huan.nguyen@cpm-vietnam.com.

 

 

 

 

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