Transcending the transactional
For many consumer goods organizations, improved revenue realization—not industry growth—is expected to be the main driver of profit in the foreseeable future. This means “winning at the shelf,” which requires a laser focus on ROI and effective in-store execution. If you want to improve revenue realization you should take heed of one thing in particular…
When it comes to retail execution, the people on the ground matter. They are the face of your business and often the front line in sales—so it is no small matter that 50 percent of merchandisers report struggling with high employee turnover*. If your goal is to elevate the experience beyond the transaction, you can go a long way toward accomplishing this goal by providing your teams with role-optimized solutions to help with your biggest pain points. When you pay close attention to the needs of your workforce, you may begin to notice significant opportunities for optimization.
A day in the life:
In order to see how a Microsoft solution can empower your workforce, let’s first look at the daily activities of employees in the field.
For many retail execution professionals, the day begins with a long period of planning. They reference previous visit reports in order to determine which stores to visit and in what order. They hunt down information around what activities are to be performed that day, as well as open orders and operational activities. Because this process requires juggling so many variables, it can be time-consuming and fraught with guesswork. There is a wealth of data available to retail execution professionals that could help them refine this planning process, but without the tools to turn all of this data into actionable insights, reps are left to do the heavy lifting manually.
Planning does not have to be a long and complicated process. From choosing which locations to visit, to deciding what to do upon arrival, Microsoft solutions can automate this process to make it more accurate and efficient. Ultimately, this frees the retail execution professional from the confines of their desk, allowing them to spend more time with their customer on value-added activities for the brand. To stay ahead of the competition, organizations are working hard to increase efficiency and productivity: in 2016, half of consumer goods companies ranked this as one of the top trends impacting in-store labor*.
As your people begin to execute activities, you can empower them to deliver by maximizing their time on site. Being stuck behind a desk for many activities means less of their time is spent on value-add activities with the customer. All the tools and insight that employees need to be productive have to move with them—regardless of location, device, or platform. This increases employee engagement and helps you deliver differentiated and personalized customer service.
In order to access these mission-critical resources, your team is going to need mobile devices that are up to the task. Equipping your team with wearables, tablets, or smartphones, along with the right apps, means they can stay in touch with all of the information and teams they need anywhere, at any time. This level of mobility enables your workforce to spend less time gathering information behind the scenes, and spend more time driving revenue through action. Activities like calculating shelf share or conducting planogram checks can be made faster and easier than ever by using a cloud-based image recognition engine. By taking a picture of a planogram and uploading it, you can cut down time and effort needed for compliance checks significantly.
During site visits, account reps and area managers meet with customer teams, ensure audit compliance, and capture key takeaways with smart technology that can drive precision and efficiency. Mobile solutions with dashboards and intelligence help these professionals meet SLAs, make better decisions, and ultimately lead to increased revenue realization and marketing compliance. Retail execution professionals are ready to be untethered from the background data churning and empowered with deep insight to do what they do best: build better relationships with customers.
For a brand to continually develop competitive advantage, retail execution professionals need to share intelligence and feedback with colleagues and management. Don’t keep your best knowledge siloed and inaccessible—sharing allows the whole organization to better perform end to end, drive communication and collaboration, and rapidly scale best practices across the organization. Rather than manually collating disparate information and moving it into a database at the end of every day, employees can collect and share intelligence more easily with streamlined digital collaboration spaces.
To ensure that account reps and managers are getting the greatest possible return on their efforts, managers should be certain that they are using all of the valuable data at their disposal to direct field activities and adjust sales and promotional content. Specifically, real-time point-of-sale (POS) data is one of the most vital sources of information in the store. Real-time POS transactions and on-hand inventory data can help improve sales by 10 percent*.
A manager’s post-visit follow-up involves aggregating information from multiple site visits and creating views of various information captured, including employee and store performance, compliance, and effectiveness. This data can be enriched with insight from external data sources, including competitive intelligence, market research, social media, and more to create improvement plans and inform future company goals and strategies.
The Retail Execution finished solution
This autumn, Microsoft introduced Dynamics 365, which combines Microsoft’s current customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning offerings into a single cloud service with new purpose-built apps for specific business functions. Delivered through AppSource, Microsoft currently offers 200 software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps, add-ins and content packs from Microsoft and its partners.
Try it yourself
One of the first industry-specific apps available via AppSource was AFS POP Retail Execution, a mobile solution built by AFS Technologies on Microsoft cloud technology. Try the preview solution at AppSource today.
* EKN Outlook, 2016