Foko product image

By Stephanie Crets

Throughout college, I worked as a sales associate at a popular chain clothing store. When it came time to change out the merchandising for a new season or to showcase specific holiday looks, my manager would bring out a huge binder full off different ways we could dress the mannequins and display items. It was always something we dreaded because it meant staying late, refolding things we'd already folded a million times that day and wrestling with the hard-to-dress mannequins. Plus, keeping track of all the pages and which looks we were implementing was a challenge, especially when you had several people coordinating across the huge sales floor and sometimes even across the different stores in the city.

So, when I heard about a smartphone app called Foko, I really wished my store team had something like it several years ago. The app considers itself to be “Instagram for retail,” used as a private messaging system for retailers to help with visual merchandising and internal communications, whether you’re part of a company with five stores or 500 stores.

Many retailers already use Instagram to share photos of its displays to communicate new items to customers, but before those are ready to be shared with the world, Foko allows its users to share the displays with the main headquarters down to each individual store member. This allows retailers real-time insight into what’s happening with this sometimes-complex process and significantly reduces the amount of time needed for merchandising validation.

The Instagram-esque features include taking photos and sharing them with the team network. Through the photo tool, users can:

  • Upload one image or create a photo album
  • Add hashtags
  • Add geotags
  • Like and comment on photos
  • Annotate photos by drawing on a copy of the image to better explain a comment
  • Search by hashtag or keyword
  • Download photos to other devices

Foko’s newest feature is Photo Task, which allows regional managers or the company’s headquarters to share directives or planning documents, assign photos that need to be taken and give feedback via comments and annotations. This feature can also be used to address customer issues and give local sales staff the ability to respond immediately.

Foko can also integrate with third-party services including inventory, POS, social media and scheduling tools. This can simplify training processes, allowing managers to share documents, videos, links for onboarding and other information with sales associates.

One of Foko’s users is Whole Foods. An executive at the company says,  "Being able to share photos in this way is a game changer. We suddenly can see what others are doing in real-time, collaborate on those ideas and constantly make improvements. Our employees are really excited about this way of working together and how it helps them better serve our customers."

Foko is available on iOS and Android devices.

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