5 Questions brands can answer with Signal-Based Merchandising
“Which stores need attention?” and other questions Signal-Based Merchandising data can answer
On a scale of 1-10, how confident are you about your product’s presence and position on a retailer’s shelf? One of the biggest uncertainties in the retail space is information about whether or not a product is on the shelf. Brands have so much data that it’s common to end up in a state of analysis paralysis. Brands can see when the product was delivered, and when it was sold at the store, but often they’re missing the most important part: were products that haven’t been sold available on the shelf?
For years, the only solution for this problem was to deploy someone to the store to find out if the product was available, and try to correct what went wrong. Or, commit to scheduled route visits that check in on stores on a regimented schedule. These visits are costly, inefficient and prone to human error. If a product runs out-of-stock in between visits, the brand loses money on foregone sales while waiting for the product to be restocked. Very little about identifying and addressing out-of-stocks was flexible, precise, efficient or scalable.
Today, we finally have a solution to such a problem. In fact, this is the very challenge Signal-Based Merchandising (SBM) has set out to fix, giving brands access to millions of nationwide, in-store signals and a continuous view of store-level execution so they can make smarter decisions about correcting out-of-stock issues.
Here are five critical questions brands can answer about product sales with SBM data:
#1. Which stores need attention?
SBM taps into a constant flow of signals from retail stores nationwide to give brands a real-time view of products on the shelf. The volume of signals is what’s most important here — there’s a constant flow of signals daily and weekly, allowing brands to compare information and decide whether or not there is a problem in a given store on a given day. With this data in hand, brands can quickly see (or set an alert to flag) high-ROI stores that need attention quickly.
#2. Is it a fluke or a pattern?
After identifying a store-level merchandising problem, SBM data can help a brand determine if they need to adjust their merchandising strategy for a specific product. The dashboard enables customers to determine if an out-of-stock was due to an unexpected event (for example, a heat wave that causes water and ice cream demand to briefly soar) or if it’s a recurring issue that needs to be addressed by adjusting your merchandising plan. Perhaps you need more of your product delivered with each visit so that you can continue to maximize sales. Whatever it is, SBM can help you refine and optimize your strategy, instead of just reacting.
#3. What’s the best use of our merchandising dollars?
Sending merchandisers into a store to do an audit is an inefficient use of money. When a brand is stuck on a regimented merchandising route, resources are wasted checking on stores that are operating well. SBM data allows brands to have much more precise data about which stores are experiencing out-of-stock issues, and which stores aren’t. The brand can then skip visits to stores that don’t need assistance and maximize time spent with stores that need the most help.
#4. How can we enhance our sales strategy?
If a brand wants a product to sell, it must be on the shelf, at the right time or during a high-traffic period for its category. Otherwise, the brand loses revenue on foregone sales. The same can be said for concerns about low sales volume — without eyes on the shelf, a brand’s reduced sales will remain a mystery. SBM data offers unprecedented visual access to products on shelves through the eyes of the shopper, allowing brands to verify whether or not the product is on the shelf, if it is in the right place with the right price for contract compliance, while flagging opportunities to correct out-of-stocks and capitalize on opportunities to sell more products.
#5. How can we fix this fast?
With traditional merchandising solutions, the process of getting someone in-store can take days or sometimes weeks. If out-of-stocks are a serious problem, this is an unacceptable delay – and delays cost real money. SMB, on the other hand, is an always-on solution that can be activated within days, if not hours. Brands can pick and choose very precise configurations to run on particular SKUs or in specific stores, large and small, to find out — and act on — exactly what’s wrong.
Know precisely what’s happening on-shelf
Brands are drowning in data, but data without actionable insights is useless. SBM provides brands with what they need to identify and troubleshoot issues as they come up, whether it’s investigating a sudden dip in sales, or a sudden spike in one SKU variation over another. This data reduces the noise and interference in a retail setting to focus on the lowest common denominator — what’s present on the shelf.