Most of the global brands have some defined guidelines related to retail executions. There can be guidelines in terms of visibility, listing, display or something else. These guidelines can be in the form of internal execution compliance or in terms of contract with the retailer. For example, it’s a common practice in FMCG industry to buy the prominent shelves and place the products in those ‘hot zones’. Or in case of liquor brands, they usually get in to a contract with major five star hotel chains to put their brands on top of the drinks menu or serve their brands as pouring in cocktails etc. And if you think about electronics segment, they spend a huge sum to design planograms and to ensure product display in the stores are planogram compliant.
Naturally the next question that comes is ‘should these guidelines / compliances / contracts be tracked?’. For sure, YES. Brands actually spend significant amount of money to maintain such compliances with an end objective of increasing retail visibility and capturing maximum possible mind share of the customer which in turn boosts the sales. So, it makes a lot of sense to track execution of those compliances especially if that can be done with not so much of effort and budget.
This is where a flexible and capable Sales Force Solution comes handy for you. It may sound surprising to many, but all these can be tracked and insights can be derived if you have a right SFA to work with. And we have done it many times for many clients across multiple countries. Let us get into more detail of what solution and services your SFA vendor should provide and what shall be the process in order to achieve this.
- Completely flexible SFA solution: Compliances, guidelines, contracts etc. vary significantly depending on geography, retail chain, channel and many other parameters. Many a times they are too complex to be digitized in an app. Hence it is particularly important that the SFA solution (app + backend) should be so flexible that all variations / complexities can be accommodated through configurations only to ensure quick implementation and change management.
- Submit execution photo: Let the app workflow be so simple that all your sales team needs to do is to take photo, as many as required. The app should definitely show him all other information which is important for him to know, but let him not try to do any calculation while using the app. He must submit all relevant real execution images from the point of execution.
- Audit of the submitted images: Either your SFA service provider or some third-party vendor must provide you a service of performing stringent audit of the submitted photos against the compliance parameters. But before that, your SFA solution must provide a backend platform to the auditors where they can see images against retail outlets and audit parameters in a user-friendly way. This is a tedious and repetitive process. So, utmost importance must be given towards user-friendliness of the audit screens. This step can be completely replaced by an image recognition algorithm. But that depends on the complexity of the audit parameters as well as quality of the images.
- A strong BI solution in the backend of the SFA: While audit scores are available by each and every parameter (because that is how auditors enter it), you would like to see the data at different summarization level along with proof (images). This may be required when a brand would like to highlight the contract violation with the retailer, and of course for internal evaluation and course correction. To draw all such necessary insights, it is very important that the SFA solution must have a very sophisticated BI engine at the backend to handle any complex logic and to create any kind of visualization.
- Publish Audit Results: Once the backend audits are complete and reports / dashboards are created as per requirement, the same must be published to all the stakeholders. If there is a contract, then violations must be highlighted and necessary clarifications to be sought or actions to be taken so the violations don’t become repetitive in nature.
- Reward and Recognition: If it is about execution compliance, then those (from sales team or merchandising team) who have been outstanding performers, must be recognized. That should be done through multiple gamification options such as publishing leader board or awarding badges against different parameters (with different colors such as Gold, Silver, Bronze etc.). Finally, some sort of monetary reward should also be given to further motivate the team and generate a healthy competition within them.