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.
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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.
How Optim Merchandising App can simplify your retail execution
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.
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.