For brands that are sold through retail, retail stores are not merely demand fulfillment points. They also serve as brand building and demand generation centres. In Indian context, where a large volume of business happens through unorganized retail, variations in shopping experience are higher, which might lead to good or bad news for your brand.
The satisfaction of trade with your product (or company in general) is one such aspect. A satisfied trade is not only good news for your sales performance (through increased recommendation), but it can also lead to higher shopper satisfaction (through better handling of product quality/supply complaints). In some cases, benefits of increased trade satisfaction can be as direct as increased partner profitability (through better credit management).
Whereas some brands have dedicated programs designed to engage the trade and drive higher business performance, many are clueless about what should be done to keep the trade satisfied. Here is a list of 5 actions which can lead to higher trade satisfaction
A product which creates unpleasant experience for consumers is the first thing to avoid. Shoppers see retailers as the first point of contact for complaints related to product quality. Hence, too much queries/complaints can become an additional cost for retailer to handle. If not handled well, a dis-satisfied shopper can develop negative preferences towards the retailer too. In line with this, products/brands which have positive consumer feedback are likely to be preferred by trade.
In most cases, your field team is in direct contact with the trade and is in the best position to resolve disputes. Though most firms have consistent processes to drive uniform trade experience, a field team that can directly resolve the problems of trade can lead to much better management of queries and disputes. Having a weak field team can lead to inconsistent communication with trade which can impact the market standing of your distribution partner and the company itself.
Collecting regular feedback from trade on various aspects about the service pack can help you understand the actual preferences of trade. Also, it can give you much better insights on the effectiveness of ground level implementation of different activities. Few key indicators need to be constantly tracked which can be used to benchmark your own processes. Additionally, exploratory studies can be conducted to gather fresh perspective from trade on open ended issues.
Using short term schemes, cash discounts, and instant gifts should be avoided unless when used in competition pressure. Having too much focus on short term schemes can create dissatisfaction in trade when the discounts are taken away. Moreover, the resulting fluctuations in business performance can be bad for retailer’s business. We recommended having long term engagement programs designed to drive trade loyalty and emotional engagement.
The saying “What gets measured gets managed” is true in almost all business situations. Although, it sounds tough to put a number to the trade satisfaction, mathematically sound measures of trade satisfaction can be put to use to track and evaluate the performance. Also, using factor analysis and regression techniques, it is possible to understand the relative influence of different factors on trade satisfaction levels.