Greg Seminara, Export Solutions

Good store versus Bad store ? How do you evaluate whether the store you just visited was a “good store” or “bad store” in terms of your brand presence? Clear communication of a brand’s in store objectives is critical to achieving good visibility at store level. Your retail sales team (direct or outsourced) should be aligned with your expectations on what constitutes exceptional results versus unacceptable conditions for your brand for each store. A new headquarter listing is a first step, but the work has just begun !

Retail Showcase: A retail store is a “showcase” for our brands. A visually appealing showcase will entice the consumer to purchase our brand in the 10 seconds she has to consider our category. I’ll never forget my first store check in Cordoba, Argentina with a distributor sales representative. The rep. proudly brought me to a store where he had established a decent vertical block set, with 50 % of category shelf space allocated to our brand. His broad smile quickly faded as I mentioned that our brand had 70 % market share and never wanted to be positioned next to a price brand. His valid point was that “No one had ever shared what our specific objectives were for in-store execution.” You can guess the rest of the story: We created a Shelf Management binder for each rep, with objectives, photo’s, before and after score sheets and kicked it all off with a “Best Store” sales contest.

Recapped below are considerations for developing your own In-Store Presence program.

1. Establish a Report Card System: This approach awards points for achieving key in store presence objectives. This includes shelf management and incremental merchandising. Naturally, each representative should strive to secure the highest point score possible in each store.

2. Retailers Official Planogram/Schematic: Outlets may vary, but the schematic is the official record of how the shelf should be arranged for the key account. Actions should be in context of the retailer’s footprint and what can be influenced at store level.

3. Start with the Fundamentals: Basics should include all authorized items being tagged on the shelf, with correct price tags and in stock for the consumer to purchase. Your brand should be shelved in the correct category and sub category.

4. Space Allocation: Shelf space should be allocated according to sales velocity is the general rule. A brand with 40 % market share should maintain at least 40 % of the shelf space. Make sure that the best selling items have proportional space. In an ideal situation, you should strive for one week’s sales inventory on the shelf with the ability to stock one full case on the shelf. Counting facings (fronts) is an easy way to measure share of shelf.

5. Positioning: Do you prefer vertical or horizontal alignments ? Is there a brand that you want your brand placed next to ? Are there brands that you do not want to be positioned next to ? Which sizes/flavors should be placed at eye level ? Which sizes/variants should be placed on the bottom shelf ?

6. Off Shelf Merchandising: Does your brand have secondary placement ? Is there an off shelf display with incremental shelf stock ? How big is the display ?

7. Point of Sale: Do key brands have point of sale ? Point of Sale can be supplied by the manufacturer or adapt the retailers proprietary point of sale materials.

8. Visit Retail Stores on Every Market Trip: Make it a point to visit stores each time that you visit a market. Alternate cities checked within a country. Request that the retail sales manager or territory manager accompany you on the store check, so he can receive direct feedback on the results.

Getting Started: Huddle with each Country Retail Sales manager. Establish clear objectives for the market. Look at each of the major retailers and establish specific, measurable goals for each retailer. Participate in a “Kick Off” meeting with the retail sales team to share shelf objectives, with a contest for those who achieve the desired results. Provide specific guidance, as well as photos of ideal sections. Your workshop can include handling potential objections. Measure “before and after”conditions. Conduct periodic retail audits to calibrate progress. Each member of your sales team should be able to grade each store. Normally, the store level grades may start low, but competitive sales teams drive improvements within a 3-6 month time period.

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