MerchandisingPartners

By Mike Grimes

When products are delivered to retailers nation-wide, it is often the job of third-party merchandisers to set up and maintain product displays. While this approach is expensive, it is generally more cost-effective than internal processes; however, with pressure on retailers to provide increasingly exceptional shopping experiences, expanding the third-party model becomes cost-prohibitive. This is where leveraging low-cost, high-availability crowdsourcing comes in.

Crowdsourcing can supplement current compliance and shelf health measurement services of traditional merchandising providers, while also optimizing some outdated merchandising processes to make them more efficient. In both cases, crowdsourcing strengthens relationships across the supply chain in a more cost-effective and flexible manner.

Here are three ways crowdsourcing can increase the value-add of third-party merchandisers:

1. Improve logistics, while reducing cost

Merchandising companies divide retailer store lists by region, meaning any given merchandiser is responsible for the implementation of marketing initiatives and displays for multiple stores. Based on the route of the merchandiser, it can take weeks before any single store is visited again. Issues such as a broken display can be left unattended until a merchandiser returns, resulting in reduced sales for both the retailer and the brand manufacturer.

With crowdsourcing, retailers can deploy local, smartphone-wielding consumers to investigate the condition of displays. Some crowdsourcing services like Mobee also allow retailers to set up actionable alerts when a product or installation is not in compliance, and immediately dispatch field merchandisers to the stores in need. Merchandisers can then ensure they have the proper tools and materials in-hand to fix the issue. This process saves time and money by reducing the need to send trained, expensive merchandisers to all stores, regardless of condition.

2. Ensure consistent performance

The relationship between retailers, brand manufacturers and merchandisers is a three-party partnership, and crowdsourcing helps all three members keep an eye on what they typically cannot see. Brands trust merchandisers to properly deploy field teams and keep their brand identity consistent. Retailers trust merchandisers to maintain the stock of their stores. Merchandisers depend on both for systemic business opportunities.

However, with products in retailers nation-wide, it is nearly impossible to monitor the performance of every member of a merchandising team. Crowdsourcing fills the gap to provide an unbiased 360-degree view of each store and region, to ensure brands are represented in compliance with their respective standards and expectations, and retailers are in good shelf health.

3. Measure the impact of specific events

Measuring the impact of a new product launch, display or retail planogram is crucial to creating an effective merchandising strategy. While brands can use sales data to assume what’s working well and what isn’t, crowdsourcing allows for greater in-store visibility at a local, regional or national level.

Say a new product is being tested in the select market of Atlanta. With crowdsourcing, retailers and their brand partners can deploy shoppers on missions to specific stores in that geography. The “crowd” can identify changes that need to be made to optimize at-shelf presence, and relay that information to retailers immediately, creating a flexible, effective approach to merchandising.

Third-party merchandisers are of utmost importance to the retail landscape. By using crowdsourcing, retailers can not only support the work of their merchandising partners, but also strengthen their relationship with brand manufacturers from sign, to shelf to sale.

Mike Grimes is chief revenue officer (CRO) at Mobee, an offline data and insights platform that uses crowdsourcing to collect, organize and analyze consumer data at scale. With more than 25 years of experience building digital solutions for retail-centric organizations, Grimes leads Mobee’s go-to-market strategy, sales and business development efforts.

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