Leading Merchandising as Something Bigger, by Andrew Potter, MD, CPM Australia
As a business who has been deploying merchandising services on behalf of national and multi-national clients for over 20 years, we’re always trying to challenge the status quo and ensure we are leading best practice. We are constantly re-evaluating, re-inventing and re-calibrating the ‘old’ processes and systems and asking ourselves “Is our merchandising model optimizing the best deployment of resources and costs – plus are we creating value for our clients?” These questions keep us in line with our mantra of helping our clients ‘sell more for less.’
Whether it be merchandising, direct sales or customer service, we’re continually rethinking the way an activity can be structured and managed so that it delivers value not only to our clients, but also to retailers and their customers.
One of the best examples of where we got to lead best practice and to trial merchandising as something ’bigger’ is the merchandising work that we’ve implemented and still manage for our national telecommunications client.
In 2016, our telecommunications client recognised that their current field merchandising structure was underperforming. Their ineffective call cycles and below-average compliance results were just a couple of signals that their field approach needed an overhaul. To increase market share in the highly competitive prepaid category, they appointed Retail Safari in Australia to help drive operational excellence and to assist in bridging the gap between their merchandisers and third-party retailers.
The key challenge was to build better retail conversations amid non-branded stores Australia-wide and to undertake this exercise, our first step was to reinvigorate the merchandising function by introducing a sales-led approach.
To ensure higher brand presence than their competitors, the newly formed sales merchandising team were tasked with both traditional and non-traditional merchandising responsibilities, with the main focus on ensuring their in-store influence maintained a positive halo effect post their store visit.
By reinvigorating the merchandising function with this sales-led approach, our client’s product has never been more prominent and as a result their service and sales numbers are at an all-time high. Their time and reach provides valuable engagement time that allows our people to: foster in-store relationships, ensure higher brand presence against their competitors and promote product benefits.
Since the inception of this program, we’ve been arming staff with the appropriate sales skills and value drivers. With this know-how, our field team continue to have meaningful sales conversations in-store with key stakeholders in the retail environment. These informed conversations stem from an insight-led approach where staff can access real-time insights and post-sale data which in turn results in driving orders and incremental in-store space, plus the ability to articulate the latest product features and benefits.
Andrew Potter, Managing Director, CPM & Retail Safari, Australia.