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5 Distribution Strategies Every Brand Should Try

A crucial factor for every business is figuring out what will be the best way to distribute your products to your customers. Coming up with a product distribution strategy is an important step that should not be overlooked. Some brands will just opt for the easiest or cheapest option available instead of coming up with an effective distribution strategy. However, there will not be just one true or correct distribution strategy that will work for everyone. Check out our recommendations below!

What is a distribution strategy?

A distribution strategy is a plan to make your product or service available to the customers you want to target through a supply chain.

Distribution strategies cover the entire approach for the availability of your offerings starting from gathering inputs about what your company communicated in your marketing materials to what type of target audience you want to serve.

Companies can decide whether they would want to distribute their products through their own channels or partner and collaborate with other companies to use their distribution channels to do the same.

Some of these companies may like to use their own exclusive stores for their own products while others will use other available retail chains to sell their products. A lot of companies also do a combination of both.

Why are distribution strategies important for brands and merchandisers?

Coming up with a good distribution strategy is important as it is what your company will deploy to make sure that your product offerings can reach the maximum number of potential customers at optimal or minimal distribution costs.

A good distribution strategy will be able to maximize your profits and revenue but a bad distribution strategy can lead not only to losses but may also help your competitors gain an advantage through the opportunity in the market that you created.

5 Merchandising Distribution Strategies You Should Try

Now that you have learned about why distribution strategies are important for brands, here are 5 distribution strategies that you should consider trying:

1. Intensive Distribution

A company that has a mass marketing product will more likely use an intensive distribution strategy. These mass marketing products will be put into as many retail locations as possible.

Intensive distribution tries to cover as much of the market as possible. This strategy hinges on making a large number of products available in several different locations.

These items do not typically necessitate an involved purchase decision where the customer might think about doing some research before buying it. They are times which are routine purchases which means that they involve only a minimal effort to sell.

The best examples of products that use the intensive distribution strategy are FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods like soda, milk, gum, toilet paper).

2. Exclusive Distribution

When brands want to use an exclusive distribution strategy, they make a deal with a retailer to sell their products through that specific storefront only.

An example of exclusive distribution is when businesses sell their goods directly through their own branded stores. This strategy is used by the most exclusive and prestigious brands.

When using an exclusive distribution strategy, the seller will grant selling rights to just a single retailer. The major advantage with this is that they can focus all of their efforts on that concentrated area and store which can help them get better results.

3. Direct Distribution

A company is using a direct distribution strategy when they directly sell and send their products to their customers. A modern approach to direct distribution is when companies use their own eCommerce website to sell products to their customers.

This can be an effective option for those companies that have a client base which is moderately knowledgeable about using the internet, requests a specific solution to meet needs, or is devoted to their brand.

Before companies should consider implementing a direct distribution strategy, they should remember that there is a large amount of investment required for it.

Manufacturers will need to add warehouses, vehicles, and other necessary staff so that they can effectively distribute goods on their own.

4. Indirect Distribution

Indirect distribution is when a company’s products go through different numerous channels before reaching the end customer.

These channels are intermediaries that assist in the logistics and placement of products so that they can reach customers swiftly and in a great location based on their preferences and habits.

Products that fall under the low commitment or routine purchases category like toothpaste are best suited for indirect distribution as this method places a large number of items in multiple retail locations.

5. Selective Distribution

Selective distribution is a middle-ground option between an intensive distribution and an exclusive distribution. It is one of the most popular strategies used by high-end brands.

With this strategy, products are distributed in more than one location, but they will only just have a few limited outlets. While this may seem like these companies are limiting their sales by only having a few stores, it can actually help them target the best performing outlets.

This strategy allows companies to spend more time and effort towards training facilities and improving the overall quality of their products and stores. This can also create a more personalised shopping experience for customers.

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Which Distribution Strategy Is Best for Your Business?

These 3 important factors play a significant role in determining what type of distribution strategy will work best for a brand:

1. The type of products you are selling

The recommended distribution strategy for a brand can largely depend on the type of product and the type of purchase decision customers make when deciding to buy it. There are three major types of purchase decisions which are routine, limited, and extensive.

A routine purchase is when a customer will spend relatively little time selecting products that are generally low priced like paper towels or hand soaps.

For these product types, an extensive distribution strategy may be the most appropriate as customers will not usually be devoted to specific brands and expect these products to be available in a lot of different locations. Having a high number of these products available for customers can lead to higher sales.

Limited purchase decisions cover items that are generally moderately priced and often require more time when selecting it compared to a routine purchase. Some examples of limited purchase products are small appliances and clothing.

Most customers will put some thought into the purchase of these items because of their price and usability, but still not as much compared to extensive purchases like a car or house. A selective or intensive distribution strategy is most suitable for these products.

An extensive purchase decision involves big-ticket items like cars, apartments, and houses. An exclusive distribution strategy can work well with these items because it may also be more lucrative to have fewer of these costly products because of its high production price.

2. Who your target customers are

Some companies would utilize multiple distribution strategies to cater to different consumer bases. For example, if your target customers for a certain product are people aged 50 and above, you might consider directly selling products through a catalog.

However, if another product is targeting a younger customer base, you should think about indirectly selling this product by working with a retailer.

Your target customers play a crucial role in determining what distribution strategy to use. You have to think about all the ways you can make their purchasing process easier.

3. Your warehouse capabilities and logistics

Whether your brand uses distribution strategies like direct or indirect will also depend on whether you are capable or willing to invest in your logistics.

This includes having a transportation fleet, shipping personnel, and a warehouse for storing and sorting goods. If companies want to have these, they should remember that it involves a considerable upfront investment.

Your brand will need to consider all the pros and cons of holding your own distribution versus using an intermediary when deciding on what distribution strategy to use.

If you are looking for a mobile merchandising app that will provide you with valuable information and data for whatever distribution strategy you will use, then you should take a look at the Optim Merchandising app.

Click here to watch a demo and experience a free trial now.

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Retail Planograms: What Are They & Why You Should Use Them (+ Tips)

Being able to effectively use your store’s physical space is a fundamental part of the success of your brand. Since your products will occupy the space and customers will navigate this space, it makes it an essential factor for everyone.

However, planning out your retail space is not always an easy task. From determining how to plan for your customers’ footpath in the store to which product displays go on which shelf, it can be overwhelming if your team does not have a solid plan in place.

This is where the use of retail planograms is needed. Retail planograms help brands and merchandisers plan out the use of their store space and gather data to help them make smarter choices which will translate to better in-store sales.

What Are Retail Planograms?

A retail planogram is a visual merchandising tool which has a detailed visual diagram of all important parts of your store. This includes the floor layout, displays, shelves, and other specific areas of the store.

The term planogram comes from the combination of the words “plan” and diagram”. So, it is a plan that will help you optimize your merchandise display to maximize your sales.

A retail planogram is usually just a single component which is a part of a more comprehensive documentation of all your visual merchandising needs.

They are often used by physical store owners, restaurants, and even digital business owners that have physical stores like pop-up stores.

Why Should You Use Retail Planograms For Your Stores?

Here are 5 reasons why you should use them for your stores:

1. Retail planograms help prevent issues about products running out of stock.

Retail out of stocks occurs when your store’s inventory has been exhausted. If consumers see that your store has products that are out of stock, it may give them the impression that the store is not organised or cannot cater to their needs.

Out of stocks are almost always caused by inconsistent practices when it comes to replenishing store shelves. This is one of the biggest challenges retailers may face if they do not use detailed retail planograms.

When using retail planograms, it gives retailers an opportunity to achieve even days of supply on shelves. This is because these planograms provide a data-driven visual representation of how long a product will last before it has to be repacked.

2. You will get more value from the data that you gather.

Retailers that do not make use of planograms will have a difficult time finding any real value from their point of sale data. While the data can be available, they may not immediately know how to analyze it since it is isolated.

To be able to get more value from their data, brands and merchandisers can combine their sales data with the retail space data that they can get from using retail planograms.

There are two ways brands and merchandisers can organise and understand their data more:

  1. Combining POS data with inventory data: they can see what is happening at a line item detail level
  2. Combining POS data with retail space data: they know what is going on at a store level.

3. You will have a better understanding of your shelf space performance with retail planograms.

To get more value from the data that you gather, you also have to understand how shelf space performs in their store.

This is because the brands that do not use retail planograms for their stores are not able to understand how their shelf space is performing.

You can now turn to planograms to overcome the challenge of justifying whether or not to allocate more or less space to a product based on how well it is performing in relation to its occupied shelf space.

4. Retail planograms help you in avoiding messy and disorganized stores.

Messy and disorganised stores reflect how merchandisers may not have an understanding of where or how to place their products. Having a messy store adds to your customer’s negative experience when they see it.

Retail planograms are an effective solution to alleviating the problem of having disorganised and messy stores. With planograms, brands can plan out logical product layouts that are cleaner for everyone to look at.

A proper and organised product layout goes a long way towards helping stores become successful. Retail planograms help merchandisers implement these well designed plans which makes for a more visually appealing store.

5. You will have more consistent product layouts when using a retail planogram.

When you do not use planograms, there is a risk of dealing with product layout inconsistencies among all of their stores. It is important that shelves at each store should not be laid out differently as it also affects the brand identity of the brand.

Brands can overcome the inconsistencies of product layouts by using planograms which centralises their space planning management from the main offices.

The planograms help in creating a consistent foundation for how products are laid out in stores. This results in consumers experiencing the same store layout no matter which branch they visit.

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4 Tips For Having a Successful Retail Planogram

Now that you have a deeper understanding about why you should use planograms, here are 4 tips that will help you have a successful retail planogram for your stores:

1. Carefully go over what levels you want to place your products

The products that you will place at eye level will more than likely outperform other products significantly. Products that are placed at eye level can be seen on shelves that are 4 to 5 feet off the ground.

After the eye level, the next most effective shelf placement is at touch level which is 3 to 4 feet off the ground. This can likely lead to an interaction with a product, but less likely to turn into a sale.

It is crucial for brands to place their bestseller products at eye level to maximize the sales that they can get for these products.

2. Place the essential items at the back of the store

An important technique to learn when creating your planograms is placing the essential items at the back of your store.

This technique creates traffic flows in your physical space and forces customers to walk past other areas of the store.

When more customers navigate around the different areas, they are more likely to look around and buy more items as they go to the back for their essential items.

3. Use multiple facings to draw the attention of your customers

Using multiple facings of a single brand or product at an end cap of a store is a great way to draw the attention of your customers.

This point of sale location at the end is highly sought-after. It often leverages multiple stock-keeping units because they are visually more impactful when stocked together.

On the other hand, if you try to place too many different products together on your shelves, it can lead to customers becoming more indecisive and less likely to end up buying something from that shelf.

4. Place complementary items close together

Another tip when creating your planograms is to make sure that you place complementary items close together as this offers more convenience for customers.

Pairs of products like shoes and socks, sunscreen and sunglasses, peanut butter and jelly, coffee and cream are great examples of what you should stock close together.

Stocking these pairs close together allows you to bring a sense of convenience to your customers by providing them with related products that they may also want to purchase along with what they initially needed to get.

With retail planograms, you will have a more organised and detailed plan for all important products, shelves, and areas of your physical store.

This will not only lead to a more pleasant experience for customers, but should also lead to even more sales for your stores as well.

If you are looking for a merchandising app that can help you create retail planograms for your store, then you should have a look at the Optim Merchandising app.

With Optim Merchandising, you and your field reps will have access to a lot of important features like creating planograms to improve the success of your retail store.

Click here to watch a demo and experience a free trial now.

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Retail Audits: What are they and How to Increase Retail Audit Efficiency

Creating an effective and data-driven retail execution strategy is something that all brands should do to ensure the success of their retail stores.

These execution strategies should be based on valuable data and information that you can gather by utilizing retail audits for all of your stores.

Making use of retail audits is the best way for a merchandiser to gather important field data that will affect the health of your company and its products as well.

So, what exactly is a retail audit?

A retail audit is a study of selected retail outlets that can be done by store employees or brand representatives to collect information and data about the health of certain products.

This audit is like a wellness check for a specific brand in the marketplace. Retail audits collect data like out of stock, planogram compliance, visual merchandising, and more.

The result of a retail audit will be a report that includes valuable information and insights about the performance and health of a specific brand in your store.

A well-executed retail audit lets businesses collect on-ground store data which can provide a better understanding of potential barriers to growth and what strategies are needed to address them.

Why Are Retail Audits Important?

Now that you have a deeper understanding for what retail audits are, here are some reasons why they are important:

1. Retail audits can maximize sales and market share.

Having real-time retail audit data gives businesses the opportunity to make rapid adjustments merchandising, shelf locations, and planograms based on feedback from consumers.

Retail audits can also collect competitive intelligence data which can empower teams to make quick decisions based on competitive trends and predictive behavior.

All of these benefits that can be obtained by utilizing retail audits can help you optimize your sell-through and expand market share because of your adept movement in the marketplace.

2. Retail audits help with improving compliance in the stores.

Marketing and sales teams of stores tend to devote a lot of time to working on planograms, signages, merchandising, and more. However, the lack of planogram compliance alone loses millions of dollars in sales individually for store retailers.

Retail audits can be used to examine the retail compliance of stores with placement, pricing, and promotional agreements between the brands and the retailer.

Compliance ensures that a retail store can effectively measure the results of certain product campaigns, SKU arrangements, marketing signages, and more.

3. Retail audits can help retail stores become more financially efficient.

In retailing business, it is important to carefully control your financial investments. Most of the time, not having enough or the right analysis of retail results will lead to overproduction of in-store equipment or even the supply of the inappropriate equipment.

Both of these possibilities become unnecessary financial costs that will burden retailers. However, this situation can be avoided when you utilize a retail audit for your stores.

By conducting a retail audit while also compiling accurate data store-specific information, brands can make sure that the equipment will always be supplied to their stores in the correct amount and is fit-for-purpose.

4. Retail audits can also improve and optimize the experience of customers.

Retail audits help brands monitor and measure the success of their retail efforts by analysing the experience of shoppers with their products in a retail store.

Using retail audits helps brands identify important information like the time it takes to find their products and the scarcity or abundance of its stock. When they can address any concerns, shoppers will have a better experience with their products.

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4 Key Data Categories to Collect During Retail Audits

Now that you have learned about why these audits are important, here are the four important data categories that a business should collect during retail audits:

1. Location Data

It is common to encounter information gaps in emerging markets because of insufficient on-ground resources for retail stores.

The collection of data based on location provides peace of mind as it ensures accurate communication about merchandising, compliance, and the distribution of products.

2. In-Store Data

In-store data is the most essential that can be gathered when utilizing retail audits for your stores.

This includes information about product placement, inventory levels, merchandising quality, share-of-shelf, planogram compliance, and product location.

3. Demographic Data

Demographics data involves information like store conditions, neighborhood descriptions, and street views.

All of these can help brands paint a more holistic view of the actual physical location of the stores that are distributing their products.

4. Competitive Intelligence Data

Competitive intelligence data provides data that assesses the in-store performance of your competitor’s products.

Analyzing this data provides a benchmark that you can use to evaluate the performance of your brand in relation to how your competitors are faring in stores as well.

How to Increase Retail Audit Efficiency

With a deeper understanding of what types of data that can be gathered from utilizing retail audits, here are 5 ways you can increase your retail audit efficiency:

1. Make sure to set clear and specific goals for your retail audits.

To make sure you get the best and most relevant information from your retail audits, you have to set clear and specific goals before you start the audit.

This helps you figure out what you want to accomplish as well as identifying the specific products and areas that may require extra attention during the retail audit.

2. Select an appropriate schedule for the retail audit.

Another important factor to consider to make your retail audits more efficient is deciding on an appropriate schedule for when it can be held in your stores.

You have to choose a schedule that will give everyone enough time to complete the audit without disrupting the experience of the customers inside the store.

The best time to do this is during slow times when there is enough staff to finish the audit and still be able to maintain regular business.

3. Choose the right retailers to sample.

The efficiency of your retail audits relies on having the most valuable and relevant data from your stores. This means that you should also focus on choosing the right retailers to sample for the audits.

You want to look at locations that are based on size, category, region, and others. Once you have a store format selected, make your samples as random as possible so you can ensure a healthy data set that you can analyze later on.

4. Do not forget to include photos in retail audits.

Including photos that are taken in real time during retail audits provides you with accurate and authentic documentation of how shelves and products look during an audit.

When those that are tasked to perform retail audits can take photos to report, it becomes easier for them to explain what exactly is the store situation during the audit. This allows management teams to take immediate and appropriate action.

5. Select the right tools to use for these audits.

Two important elements that are needed for a more efficient retail audit are the right app or software and right device to use to gather, aggregate, and report all of your information.

Make sure that you have a dedicated merchandising app that is capable of collecting and reporting multiple types of data and can also take notes and photos. These apps should be used with either a smartphone or tablet as they are more convenient to use on-ground.

As long as you use the right merchandising software, you will be able to have more efficient and optimized retail audits.

If you are looking for a mobile merchandising software that will help make your retail audits more efficient, then you should take a look at the Optim Merchandising app.

With Optim Merchandising, you will be able to gather all the necessary and relevant information that you will need for your retail audits. It also includes a lot more features that will make your retail experience a lot easier.

Click here to watch a demo and experience a free trial now.

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How to Use a Merchandising App to Simplify Retail Reporting

Retail reporting can be difficult because of all of the different tasks that have to be done to ensure the success of your business. While it may seem overwhelming at first, you can use software like a merchandising app on smartphones to make all of these jobs as simple as possible for everyone on your team.

Merchandising apps can help create smoother interactions and transactions between you and your retailers by providing important data and reports that will help you achieve all of your retail goals.

4 Types of Data You Can Track With a Merchandising App

These are the 4 different types of data you can track when you use a merchandising app:

1. Stock Requests

One of the biggest problems that retailers can face is your products running out of stock. If a product is not on  your shelf when consumers are looking for it, the chances are very high that they will look somewhere else.

Merchandising apps can track data regarding the situation of stocks for your products so that you can immediately correct the problem. These apps can identify patterns in stock levels, and can inform you of low stock situations immediately.

Related article: How Brands and Merchandisers Can Prevent Lost Sales due to Stockout

2. Retail Compliance

Having a merchandising app will help you with your retail compliance checking. The app can give you instant information about your current retail execution campaign.

If a sales rep finds any issues and can immediately document them with electronic devices, forms, and photos, you can be able to resolve these immediately.

3. Coverage Analysis

Through using a merchandising app, you can analyse a lot more than the data that field reps are explicitly reporting. These apps can collect time and location information along with photos and forms that the reps provide for you.

You can obtain information like which stores are getting visits, how long the visits usually take, what activities are being done, and when they are getting done.

You will need to know all this information so you can discover how well your outlets are being covered and how you can make decisions to motivate reps in the field.

4. Competitive Analysis

Merchandising apps do not just give your field reps information about your own business, but can also contain information about your competition. Your reps can help you collect information on the competitors while they are at the store.

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7 Types of Reports That Can Be Generated With a Merchandising App

Now that you have a deeper understanding of the different types of data that can be tracked, here are 7 types of reports that can be generated using a merchandising app:

1. Inventory On Hand Reports

An inventory on hand report is a summary that displays the amount of inventory which a business has on hand at a specific point in time.

It includes details like how much stock is available, which products are selling the fastest, and other important information about the status and performance of your inventory.

Well-made inventory on hand reports include information that is constantly updated with a high level of detail and can also use visuals to make it clear how many of a specific item is still in stock.

Why You Should Use This Report

Inventory on hand reports are crucial as they help you monitor the biggest and most expensive asset of your business.

Retail businesses heavily rely on inventory to generate their target revenues and profits so without it, they would not have anything to sell.

2. Low Stock Reports

A low stock report provides inventory data on all the active products which are low on inventory based on the defined minimum stock levels for each product. This is the best type of report for determining which products need to be ordered each when you are contacting your supplier.

This report works best when you have a specified low stock threshold and a reorder point for products so you can get notified to replenish as necessary.

Why You Should Use This Report

Always having an overview of your low stock reports can help you spot patterns around which products are often running low on supply.

If a certain product is always showing up on this report, this may indicate that you will have to increase your order quantities for it.

3. Product Performance Reports

A product performance report should tell you the number of products you have sold over a given time period as well as a summary of all items sold in a month or in a week.

These reports give you an overview of how fast items are selling and which products are making the most money for  your business.

Why You Should Use This Report

You can use this report to figure out which items should be worth investing in and which ones should not be reordered or prioritised for ordering.

Having a good product performance report can also give you information about the gaps of the first and last sale dates of certain products.

By looking at when sales are spiking and which products are selling the most, you will have a better understanding of how many units you should order in the future.

4. Sales Summary Reports

A sales summary report provides an overview of the state of the sales activities within a company. It shows the different trends that are happening in your sales volume over a specific time period.

These reports also include the cost of your goods sold, gross profit, tax, and margins, so you can have a better idea of how much money your business is actually earning.

Why You Should Use This Report

You can get a more general view of your retail sales in the sales summary reports. You can see how much you made in the last month or in the last year.

These figures on the reports will offer you some important insights on the health of your business, and can help inform your medium to long-term decisions going forward.

5. Sales Reports Per Product and Product Type

A sales report per product shows the quantities, profits, and additional financial summary for the sales by a certain product in a specific reporting period.

However, a sales report per product type is a bit different as it gives you all this information but from a specific product type or category.

Why You Should Use This Report

These reports should be used for your business as it makes it easy to identify the best and worst selling products. Knowing this should give you a clear idea of what the right course of action should be.

If you can check that a particular product is getting a lot of sales, you could consider ordering more of it in the future. However, you can also check if a product is not performing as well so you can run a promotion for it or lessen its orders next time.

6. Sales Reports Per Customer or Customer Group

Another important report that you can have is a sales report per customer or customer group. These reports will allow you to identify your most loyal customers as well as those that are not fully engaging with your business.

You will be able to check what their purchases are, what are the most common products they buy, and how often they make these purchases from you.

Why You Should Use This Report

Having these reports is a great way for you to determine what kind of actions you can take for specific types of customers.

You can create special events or programs for your loyal customers and for inactive customers, you can easily identify them and cater specific marketing and communications which can encourage them to purchase more.

7. Sell-Through Reports

Sell-through is a metric that is used to evaluate an item’s performance in terms of how it is selling. It is expressed as a percentage of units sold versus the number of units that are available to be sold.

Sell-through rates are usually evaluated daily for products that are fast-moving or weekly for slower-moving products. A higher value is better as it indicates your sales are good and your inventory is forecasted appropriately.

Why You Should Use This Report

Using a sell-through report helps you to identify the rising and falling demands for your products’ stock. It can help give you insight into what you should reorder and what needs to be marked down or featured in more marketing materials.

Knowing this information helps you understand how quickly products sell and gives you an opportunity to make smarter inventory purchasing decisions. This will assure you that you carry enough stock to meet consumer demand while not having too much.

All of these data and reports that can be made through a merchandising app shows how comprehensive these apps can be in terms of providing effective analysis and solutions for your retail business.

If you are looking for a merchandising app that can help your business, check out Optim Merchandising App solution. There’s a free 14-day trial, so get yours now.

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8 Reasons Why Your Field Reps Should Use a Mobile Merchandising App

Field reps are tasked to do a lot of important tasks all throughout the day. When working on these different tasks that they need to do, they should have a guide that makes everything a lot easier for them. This is why they should use a mobile merchandising app so that they can be more efficient with their work.

Working in a fast-paced environment requires you to be up-to-date in terms of important factors like prices, data, information, and reporting. Mobile merchandising apps help you deliver this information in a more quick and accurate way.

So, what is a mobile merchandising app?

A mobile merchandising app is made to create better communication between headquarters and field reps, simplify retail executions such as visit scheduling, task management, increase accountability, and improve the rate of reporting and transparency.

Mobile merchandising apps also help retailers recognise the impact of their decisions so that they can create better merchandising strategies for the future.

Check out a demo and get a free trial here

8 Reasons Why Your Field Reps Should Use These Mobile Merchandising Apps

Now that you have a clearer picture of what mobile merchandising apps are, here are 8 compelling reasons why your field reps should start using these apps for their retail inspection:

1. The process of creating schedules and tasks will be made easier with a mobile merchandising app.

Mobile merchandising apps will provide dashboards so that field reps can immediately check all the tasks they have to do and the surveys they have to answer during store visits in one place.

The work of your field reps can also be optimised by setting regular visit schedules through the app as well so they can immediately know what they will do on specific days.

2. Mobile merchandising apps make it easier for field reps to track where and how long they are working.

These apps can also accurately measure the time your field reps spend in the field with a clock in and clock out feature so that they do not have to worry about manually tracking their own work hours.

It is also easier to have accurate reports as to where you are on the field and where other field reps are with a merchandising app that has a geotagging feature.

3. Field reps can easily check and request stocks using a mobile merchandising app.

Well-made merchandising apps will have a clean and user-friendly interface which will make it easier for field reps to accurately track inventory of stocks.

Accurate stock reporting also means that you should immediately spot products that are running out of stock. A merchandising app can help your reps create orders in real time to avoid products running out of stock.

4. Having a mobile device while working makes it easier to document and take photos.

A field rep’s work can be documented in an easier and more accurate way when they make use of smartphones with high quality cameras.

This allows reps to take real-time photos of the shelves and stocks in the stores that they visit and they can immediately send these to the headquarters.

5. Mobile merchandising apps are able to make tracking sales and data easier for field reps.

It is important for field reps to know about their performance for a certain period of time. With mobile merchandising apps, they can easily measure their daily or monthly sales performance and record new transactions at the point of sale.

These apps can also create reports which can track the operations of field reps and can also measure their performance and success. These automated reports make it easier for field reps to focus on their on-ground work.

6. Communication will be a lot easier when using mobile merchandising apps.

Since all mobile merchandising applications and software are based on smartphones and tablets nowadays, these provide a great outlet for communication between field reps and management.

Well-made mobile solutions for merchandising are able to integrate important communication channels into one application that field reps can use in stores. Features like direct messaging, broadcast messaging, and announcements will keep reps informed and keep communications active for everyone involved.

7. You can easily view prices of important products with a mobile merchandising app.

The task of viewing and analysing product velocity in relation to actual on shelf pricing will be easier to do when you have a mobile app.

You can also immediately check when there are changes in pricing when your products are involved in promotions and how the prices of your competitors impact your sales.

8. Having a mobile merchandising app will lessen the need to do administrative tasks.

Since mobile merchandising apps can collect different types of information throughout a field rep’s work day, there will barely be any need to fill individual visit report summaries or daily or weekly recaps.

Crucial information and data about the field rep’s work and your products can be automatically captured throughout the day so that they can spend their time focusing on their important field work instead of administrative tasks.

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How You Can Implement the Use of Mobile Merchandising Apps to Field Reps

Now that you have seen a more detailed look of the 8 reasons why your field reps should use a mobile merchandising app, here is how your business can communicate these benefits so that your reps can get on board with using these apps:

1. Highlight the crucial features that mobile merchandising apps have which are not available in other apps that are being used for field work like WhatsApp.

If some of your field reps are a bit hesitant when it comes to using a new app because they have already been used to using something like WhatsApp, then you should just start off with explaining how these mobile merchandising apps are solely devoted to their line of work.

Using general communication apps like WhatsApp only give you a limited amount of features that are important for field work. You will have to make use of additional tools or apps to get work done.

Being able to highlight all these crucial features in a mobile merchandising app will help field reps understand that these apps will already contain everything that they will need and more for their field work.

2. Go over all the important features and benefits these apps have which will make the work of your field reps a lot easier.

Going over all of the important features and benefits that these apps will have for your field reps will give them better confidence in using the app in the future.

Once they know everything that they can do with these apps, especially tasks that could not be done remotely before, they will realise that these apps can help them become a lot more productive at work.

3. Provide them with video demos so that they can get a more complete understanding of how the application looks and feels.

Just going over all the features through photos, textual information, and discussions may not be enough for your field reps to fully comprehend the mobile merchandising app.

Watching a video demo of how the whole application works and all its features will be able to give them a more complete understanding of how everything works and feels when they will use it for work.

This visual understanding through watching demo videos is vital in helping them when it comes to getting used to what parts of the app to view and select for specific situations in the field.

4. Have a test run with the mobile merchandising app before fully integrating it.

Before fully integrating your mobile merchandising app, you should try to have a test run or a practice run just so that your field reps can have a good idea on how to use the app in real time.

This will prepare them for when you will use the app fully and can also help bring up concerns or questions that may arise when using it for their field work.

If you are looking for a great mobile merchandising app that can help improve the performance of your field reps, then you should check out the Optim Merchandising app.

With Optim Merchandising, your field reps will have access to several important features like scheduling store visits, streamlining operations, stock takes and stock requests, and automatic report generation.

Get a free trial now.

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how to prevent stockout - supermarket

How Brands and Merchandisers Can Prevent Lost Sales due to Stockout

Every merchandising manager can agree that retail business is a highly competitive sector, and that it’s imperative to make sure that your product is on the shelf when the customer is shopping for it. On average, when a customer visits a store, one in thirteen products is out of stock. Inefficient supply chains and stockout cost merchandisers enduringly large sums of money in lost sales and continue to be one of the biggest headaches facing businesses of all sizes.

For many brands, the problem of out-of-stocks (OOS) persists. Why? And what can be done to prevent lost sales due to stockout?

6 possible causes of stockout

There are a number of factors to blame for a product stockout. Below is a list of preventable causes that lead to a shortage in stock.

Some of them include:

1. Supply Chain Issues

Was the product ordered and delivered in a timely manner? 

Production and/or shipping delays can slow down the process of getting products to the shelves, causing a disturbance in the consumer’s shopping experience.

2. Unreliable Data

Shelf-level inventory data must be accurate to be of any real use. While POS inventory data provides the figures of how many units of each product should be in the store, there are instances of “lost” items (items that might be residing in the store’s warehouse rather than on the store shelves, shrinkage, items that may have been shoplifted or fraudulently returned or simply administrative error). 

These instances can be identified through auditing.

3. Store Service Levels

If an item was ordered online, was it successfully picked in the store? 

Additionally, if the store’s storage area (the “back room”) is crowded and/or disorganized, the problem of lost or misplaced merchandise can unnecessarily occur.

4. Day of the Week

Empty shelves are more likely to occur on Friday and Saturday.

5. Advertised Sale Items

Items on sale were found to have up to a 75 percent higher level of out-of-stock than full-priced items.

6. Categories

Groceries, nonperishables, bulk products – several variables between categories cause out-of-stock differences.

how to prevent stockout - supermarket

What is the impact of an Out Of Stock problem?

Not only does the out-of-stock problem have an adverse effect on profits, but it also causes major customer dissatisfaction. In fact, 30% of customers feel that products being out-of-stock (OOS) hurts their shopping experience.

In our age of instant gratification, customers don’t tolerate stock-outs and rather than wait for the product to arrive in stock they will simply and immediately switch to a competitor or buy a substitute.

What brands and merchandisers need to understand is the scale of the lost sales from these empty shelves. According to a study by IHL, stockout causes nearly $1T of lost sales, and shoppers encounter out-of-stocks every one in three shopping trips.

You don’t want your brand to contribute to this.

How to prevent Stockoutswith a Retail Audit Software?

Using a mobile merchandising app gives you instant information about any issues in your retail execution campaign. If a rep finds discrepancies, and can document them timely and accurately with electronic forms and photos, you will be empowered to correct the problem immediately.

With paper solutions, you might not know about issues until long after the campaign is over.

Optim Merchandising App for merchandisers is a convenient tool for improving the efficiency and quality of your company’s operations.

Here are five ways to improve the way you keep track of your inventory, and prevent out-of-stock scenarios by using our app:

1. Ensure your data is reliable and up to date

You may think that you already have good control of your sales and inventory data, but how reliable is it?

Today, if you want to be able to react to your customers’ demands and give them the service they expect, you need to be able to track your stock in real time. 

By using the Optim Merchandising app – a modern mobile merchandising solution based on SmartPhones – you will be inherently good at creating a communication channel between management and the field. This great mobile solution integrate these communication channels into the same application that reps use when in the store with direct messaging, broadcast messaging and bulletin board announcements that keep reps informed and keep communications alive throughout the organisation.

Get a free trial here

2. Anticipate demand with effective forecasting to prevent stockout

You may have a good overall picture of what stock you have, but you also need to be able to understand what you’re going to need in the future. To do this, you need to be able to analyse your data to anticipate demand and make accurate forecasts so you can determine what products to order and when.

Equipping your reps with our Optim Merchandising app is an easy way to collect information about your competition is the easiest way to get relevant and meaningful data about how they are fighting for your space. Create ‘Eyes and Ears’ reports where reps can report back on what they see, as well as structured pricing and presence data collection forms.

3. Understand the impact of key retail events and promotions

All types of events have a huge impact on your sales performance. The question is, do you have the ability to compare these types of events year on year, regardless of where they fall in the calendar, and properly prepare for them?

Similarly, discounts and promotions are likely to have a big impact on the quantity of products you sell in store, and you don’t want to risk under-stocking and selling out too quickly.

By using our Optim Merchandising app, you will be able to look back and identify sales spikes to see which products sold the most and when.

4. Put tools in place to effectively redistribute stock

What measures do you currently have in place to balance the sale of stock across your stores? How do you identify products which are selling better in some stores than others? There are ways to optimise your stock at store level and take advantage of digital workflows to see exactly which stores lack certain items and which have a surplus.

One of the best way to optimise your stock is to use our app. You don’t need to be ‘Big Brother’ to see which stores are getting visits, how long the visits take, which activities are getting done there and when they are getting done. All of this information can provide you with great insights as to how well your outlets are being covered.

5. Identify trends and track customer preferences

Just because a product sells well this year, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will perform the same way the following year. You can’t afford to become complacent. You always need to be tracking current trends and identifying the types of products that people are gravitating towards.

As technology continues to become more sophisticated, brands will have a greater ability to identify who their shoppers are, what they’re looking at, where they are in the world and anticipate exactly what they want, then have the products delivered and replenished to the right places at just the right moments.

An advanced Retail Audit Software that covers all bases

With Optim Merchandising, we’ve got you covered. Our merchandising app has everything you need for retail audit, retail operations & more (click here for more details on the app features)

Working from one centralised database, you can gain full visibility of your inventory in real time, monitor current stock coverage, optimise stock quantities and product mixes based on store capacity, plan the best assortments for every store, calculate variants for each location and perform real-time stock checks on mobile devices.

Get a free trial here.

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retail store - why retailers should use a merchandising app

7 Reasons Why Brands and Distributors Should Use A Merchandising App

Are spreadsheets, reports and visit scheduling taking too much of your time? Do you have to manually check in with your field reps everyday? If you are considering how to automate tasks and simplify management, this article is for you. Here are 7 reasons why brands and distributors should use a merchandising app, and how the app can benefit your day-to-day retail executions.

First, let’s take a look at a typical day of a retail merchandiser:

Your daily tasks usually include:

  • Maintaining contacts with retail outlets according to an approved visit schedule;
  • Supervising the full range of displayed goods;
  • Aligning the display of goods and their locations with the merchandising standards;
  • Ensuring the maximum availability of advertising equipment and promotional materials;
  • Collecting requests for sub-stocking from contractors and redirecting them to the supplying company’s office;
  • Informing the supervisor about the lack of certain items within the trading company;
  • Ensuring that the display of goods complies with the supplier’s standards, improving the goods placement visibility compared to the products of the company’s competitors;
  • Drawing up information reports on stock quantity as per supply order, as well as on buyer and customer complaints regarding the availability of goods;
  • Drawing up reports on the current product position and on the competitors’ pricing policies;
  • Gathering market research information;
  • Facilitating various promotional and advertising campaigns as well as product tasting;

Besides all of the above, you also have to put together all information, classify it by type, draw up reports, and submit them to the headquarters or the supervisor.

If you are doing everything manually via WhatsApp or other messaging app, this will be a long and tedious process.  Reporting can take up nearly a half of a merchandiser’s working time.

Watch a demo here (and get a free trial)

retail store - why retailers should use a merchandising app

Why brands and distributors should use a merchandising app

This is where a mobile merchandising app comes to your rescue. The application is specially made for retail executions, with unique features catered to brands and merchandisers’ needs.

1. You can easily provide reps with client information

When you send a rep out to do their job, they present themselves with much more professionalism and confidence when they know who they need to meet, when and where they are expected to arrive. The most basic of mobile implementations will give the rep core information about the clients that they are servicing. The more sophisticated retail software will include detailed contact information, interactive maps to help them find their way and a history of the visits made earlier.

2. A mobile retail application allows you to streamline tasks and work instructions

It’s one thing for a rep to find their way to the client, and to know who the store manager is. It’s equally as important to know exactly what needs to be done on site. Paper instructions are only as accurate as they were when they were printed. Good mobile implementations let you create a task list in advance and update it as needed. Your work instructions and instantly distribute them to reps in the field. This is much faster and less prone to errors than manually checking in with individual retail rep via WhatsApp.

3. You can rectify errors in a timely manner

Using a mobile solution for retail compliance checking gives you instant information about any issues in your retail execution campaign. If a rep finds any discrepancies, they can document them accurately with electronic forms and photos. As retail managers, you will have access to backend data instantly and will be able to correct the problem immediately. With paper solutions, you might not know about issues until long after the campaign is over.

4. You can do competitive analysis

This is the 4th reason why brands and distributors should use a merchandising app. Equipping your reps with an easy way to collect information about your competition is the easiest way to get relevant and meaningful data about how they are competing for your space. Create ‘Eyes and Ears’ reports where reps can report back on what they see, as well as structured pricing and presence data collection forms.

5. You can avoid fraud with photo documentation

With WhatsApp, a not-so-honest field rep can send you photos of a visit made 5 weeks ago, and you may not be able to recognise that. By using a mobile merchandising app, you can avoid this fraudulent behaviour. The app has a built-in camera function, and your reps will need to use it while using to send the photo to you.

6. You can measure the effectiveness of your strategies

The application automatically gathers the data in one place. This makes it easy for you to capture product velocity, analyse the effectiveness of your promotions, pricing strategies and other marketing efforts. If you have an ongoing product sampling campaign, your sales promoters can also record the number of items sold as well as customers information to follow up.

7. A merchandising app makes communication easier

Modern mobile merchandising solutions can be used on smartphones or tablets. These are inherently good at creating a communication channel between management and the field. Great mobile solutions integrate these communication channels into the same application that reps use when in the store with direct messaging, broadcast messaging and bulletin board announcements that keep reps informed and keep communications alive throughout the organisation.

Check out Optim Merchandising App solution

merchandising app

How Optim Merchandising App can simplify your retail execution

Bulk-import data

If you have a long list of field reps, stores and products, you don’t have to manually enter them one by one. We have the option to bulk import all your data and necessary information. This can save you plenty of time, and you have everything you need organised in one dashboard.

Schedule retail visits

The our mobile app for merchandisers and brands allows managers to schedule retail visits for all field reps in one go. You can also set recurring visit with a suitable cadence. The visits will appear on your reps’ calendar so they will know when to go to which store. The stores’ GPS locations are also pin-pointed on the app’s map to avoid mistakes. The in-store visits calendar shows tasks completion status and visits scheduled for a particular date.

Task creation function

Retail audit and planogram checks are extremely simple if you use a merchandising app. When your field reps arrive at a store, they will see a list of tasks that need to be done at that particular store. Responsibilities such as planogram compliance checking are easy as your reps view photos of how the planogram should look like.

Job completion report with photographs

While visiting store, the reps often have to visually capture the results of their work. It helps them create a photo report about the completed job. Having done the job – be it placing goods on the shelves of the trading company, adding materials to the existing information blocks, or running promotional campaigns and tasting sessions – the merchandiser has to attach a separate photo report to the general report. The mobile app makes it easy by using the built-in camera function. The picture will be stored in the phone together with the report, with a possibility to submit all the reports to the central company database for subsequent analysis of the jobs completed by a particular merchandiser or belonging to the whole region.

Ability to function offline

The Optim Mobile Merchandising Apps can work offline. This allows the app to receive all the tasks prior to starting the work and then let the user execute them according to the task list, as well as save data to the app. At any convenient moment, one can send a batch job completion report to the company office.

Support for company working standards

The app provides the ability to standardise the merchandiser’s work. This section provides the following information to the employee: rules for placing goods on display, layout of shelves with goods in a particular outlet, and other information needed by the merchandiser in order to fulfill their tasks efficiently.

Automated reporting

There is no need to spend time on SKU status reports for outlets, or reports on the kind and quantity of promotional materials in a supermarket, or on the out-of-stock items. All this and other information can be generated from the dashboard. With a few simple clicks, you can generate sales reports, photo gallery reports, stock take reports as well as planogram reports. Rather than tracing back previous messages and photos, all information is organised and compiled for you.

Stock take, stock request, order and receipt

When noticing that a product is running low, your reps are empowered to request for stock transfers from another outlet. The execution is easy and seamless, helping you to avoid lost sales due to out-of-stock.

Implementing mobile solutions for retail merchandising has never been easier. It helps you to save time, simplify operations and minimise errors.

Try the App free!

Product Sampling Marketing : Strategy, Execution & Pitfalls to Avoid

As a growing business, it is essential to find new ways to establish your product’s presence in the market, drive brand awareness, and boost your sales. To stay on track and realise these goals, there’s one thing your business needs: to reach and keep customers. Product sampling marketing is a great way to bring your products and services in front of the consumers’ eyes and gain immediate feedback. In this article, we will share our best tips for product sampling marketing and how to track and measure your results with a merchandising app.

Watch a demo of Optim Merchandising App 


free samples - product sampling marketing

What is consumer product sampling?

Product sampling is the strategy of handing out complimentary products as a trial run for potential consumers. 

It was first championed by a stop manufacturer in the 1850s, who realised the power of handing out samples in building his fan base. Now, product demonstrations and sampling are popular across many different industries.  

As the benefits of product sampling became more well-known, many businesses began to think different methods for reaching their audience with their products. Brands like Tupperware began to send their products directly to people’s homes, and started crafting special events that invited people to sample their products. 

Recently, this strategy has moved into the digital realm, with brands targeting new customers through social media and email with e-coupons and special online-only offers. 

Sampling works best for a new or improved product. It allows you to introduce the product and get feedback from consumers quickly. The technique is also effective when introducing a different use for an established product or to reach new geographic areas.

What make product sampling so effective for merchandisers and retailers?

 The psychology behind sampling is simple – people love free stuff. Not only does handing out free samples lead to brand trust, but people are likely to develop a positive view of your brand as a result.   

Other factors contribute to its effectiveness, including some key consumer insights: 

Less Risk Aversion: 

Testing out a product doesn’t require any commitment or investment from the receiver. Hence, your potential clients will be more likely to try it out. Sampling is a great way to reassure the consumer of the brand’s performance. Once people have trusted that your product or service works, they are more likely to choose your brand over a competitor the next time they need it. 

More Reciprocity:

When someone is given a free sample, they’re likely to want to return the favour. By giving away free product samples, consumers are likely to make a future purchase. Plus, you can also gather immediate feedback when you give out the sample. With Optim Merchandising App, your field team can record the sample given out, testers’ feedback and their contact details. From this, you can easily send follow up emails with unique offers to those who have received the samples.

Watch a demo here 

More Brand Trust:

Allowing consumers to physically experience your product creates a strong emotional bond between them and your brand. 

product sampling stastistics

77% of consumers said receiving a sample motivates them to purchase the item. | Source: NEOSOL

How merchandisers and retailers maximise sales with product sampling marketing

1. Sampling gives consumers the chance to experience the product quality firsthand.

Your customers do not have to rely on your sales pitch or marketing to find out about the product. They can discover it on their own, which provides a more powerful impression. It may be the most effective sales promotion technique to get a consumer to try a new product.

However, it is also one of the most expensive. Producing sample sized product and paying for the sample distribution process adds up fast. This means you have to plan your sampling campaign carefully to get the most from it. 

2. Product sampling marketing campaigns provide both immediate value and long-term impact.

The perk of product sampling is that customers can make a purchase when they try the product. Your sales reps can immediately log the number of products sold during the campaign. Merchandisers and retail managers also have access to the data to know the campaign’s effectiveness.  Product sampling marketing also has a long-lasting impact on sales compared to other sales promotion techniques. With a merchandising app, you can track when a customer makes a purchase, whether it’s weeks or months after the campaign ends.

3. You need to plan and execute your campaign well.

These include identifying your objective, customer, and sampling techniques. Plus, you have to figure out your approach and how you will monitor the campaign. First, though, you need to make sure that you are prepared to launch such a campaign. 

4. Before you begin a campaign, you have to make sure your target market has adequate access to your product.

You must ensure there is enough product for the demand that will occur after your sampling event. If you are reaching the right consumer, they will seek your product out and be turned off if it is not immediately available to purchase. So, make sure distribution channels are ready. 

Looking into the potential consumer’s conscience and unconscious reasons for using your product can help you to identify the best sampling channels, locations, or venues. This will give you the optimum environment and most solid message for your sample delivery. 

Product Sampling Techniques

There are several ways for you to execute your product sampling promotions: 

  • Give out samples at special events, in-store or near store distribution, newspaper or magazine inserts, and direct mail. 
  • Samples may also come as on-pack promotions, such as a sample of toothpaste fastened to a mouthwash brand, or as near-pack promotions, such as the free sample of laundry detergent that comes with a new washing machine purchase. 
  • Distribute samples through a related industry partner is also effective and cost-efficient. Recently, I received a free sample off a new moisturising cream from the receptionist at the dermatologist office along with a coupon for repurchase. This is a great example of getting the product into the hands of a consumer who has a need and is in the frame of mind to appreciate its value. 

Here you can find the obstacles and advantages for different product sampling marketing practices.

Direct methods: Giving out samples at retail stores or events

Advantages: This can help stores and businesses reach new customers, make their products more visible and engage their consumers through a personalised experience of the product. You can measure and track the number of samples your promoters have given out, gather feedback from the field and make immediate improvement to your campaign. 

Obstacles: There is often a lot of product waste and very little targeting since samples are handed out to those who may have no real interest in this type of product. Hence, merchandising apps like Optim Merchandising can be helpful. They allow you to keep track of stocks, collect customers’ information, feedback and know who has expressed interest to follow up.  

Watch a Demo of how you can do that here 

Mail Delivered Sampling

Advantages: This is an effective solution that can help brands ship samples both locally and internationally to reach a wider range of consumers. 

Obstacles: You won’t be able to know their feedback, and it can be hard to measure the effectiveness of the campaign. If you see an increase in sales, is it because of the sampling promotion or another marketing activity? 

Online influencers sampling

Advantages: This is an effective solution as influencers help build unique relationships between their followers and your brand. This method can also help your business reach a larger audience while achieving better brand awareness.  

Obstacles: Using brand influencers makes measuring ROI remarkably difficult. This product sampling marketing method also falls short in the way that little insight or feedback is received from consumers as there is no direct interaction between the business and the user post-testing. 

Start your campaign

Now that you have a good idea about the various things you need to do to prepare for a product sampling campaign, you are ready to get started. Make sure to choose the right tactic that meets your objectives and find a way to measure your ROI. Taking the time to plan out your campaign before getting started is going to be the most beneficial thing you could do to ensure success. 

Watch a demo of Optim Merchandising App and get a free trial.