Demystifying the Excess Tools in Retail Execution and Monitoring

Mila Budeva
Mila Budeva
Jan 17, 2017

Technology has had a wide-reaching impact on retail. E- and m-commerce have become central aspects of a digital customer experience. However, by and large we have digital customers but not digital workers.

At Zaptic we're committed to closing this 'digital gap':

By enabling the latest mobile, cloud, social and analytics technologies to improve deskless workers' experience and operational excellence, in the same way as they have created digital customer experiences.


The last mile is always the hardest, the saying goes. This is especially true in the supply chain, where millions are spent not just on ensuring that products reach the shelf, but that the correct promotions, displays, price and share of shelf are executed in each and every store in the outlet universe. It should be music to the ears of CPG execs, therefore, that a proliferation of new technologies promises to optimise retail execution and monitoring activities. Field sales managers and their IT partners can now choose from a range of mobile, social, cloud and analytics capabilities promising to radically change the way sales and marketing strategies are implemented in stores.


With so much choice, how do enterprise architects and business managers make use of all these next generation technologies? How can field sales managers maximise coverage and do more with less by getting the right people, with the right tools, at the right place, at the right costs, at the right time ... Getting a headache? We aim to simplify some of the ways that mobile, social, cloud and analytics capabilities increase sales effectiveness, efficiency and coverage for consumer goods companies. 


The Opportunity

Sales effectiveness

When combined with advanced analytics, dynamic call files and out of stock alerts displayed in sales force automation solutions can guide agents to the highest incremental turnover opportunities across territories and within stores. In addition to prompting the priority actions, well-presented data insights can also help agents to quickly identify and act upon the biggest issues and opportunities on the shop floor.


When the time comes to negotiate in-store, access to data insights and selling stories helps agents to get the opportunities across the line and turn them into revenue. When integrated with a flexible SFA solution like Zaptic, image augmentation can take an agent’s sales pitch to the next level, using augmented reality to show store managers exactly how a new display will look and feel on their shop floor.  



Using advanced analytics and task automation apps - such as image recognition and augmentation - can reduce the time spent measuring and maximise the time spent acting. To materialise this benefit, it's critical that all these tools are brought into one friendly interface for the reps in the field, with activity guidance through each step of the call.



Technologies also enable CPGs to maximise their coverage, optimising their own as well as the growing on-demand workforce. This is especially true in megacities where omni channel retail execution has the potential to fundamentally change the way retail execution is managed. Instead of visiting the same store twice to first order and then set up a new display, a field rep can schedule a member of the crowd to set up the display, followed by an audit for Monday morning which the delivery agent can perform when transporting stock to the store on that day. Members of the crowd can perform an audit or report on promotional compliance for any given product, in any given store with step-by-step guidance and a reporting tool which feeds real-time data to the head office, all accessible on their own mobile device.


The Challenges

All the amazing technology is out there but the sheer number of available systems and mobile applications creates complications for field sales directors and their IT partners.


1. Choosing the right tool for each case

Similar to a surgical tray, a field rep's mobile device is likely to have a number of tools. None of them are universally applicable and their usefulness varies by markets, channels, field teams, call cycles and KPIs. So how do field managers and their agents choose the right tools for each case and how can they be plugged in and out once selected for a particular case?


2. Training and engagement

Investing in the right technology for each case is only the first step. On-boarding users and ensuring that their interaction with the technology drives the correct behaviour in-store poses another challenge. As an example, we have seen reps using image recognition at the end of a store call after they have already performed audits manually. This is clearly a task duplication and can be prevented with

  1. the correct training, and

  2. an integrated and process driven solution like Zaptic which guides the reps through each step of the store call. 


3. Not too many apps, please!

Providing reps with the latest tech and the necessary training does not guarantee increased productivity. If you are on your way to Mount Everest, you might be tempted to put all the possible equipment in your rucksack but taking more than you can carry will leave you stuck at the bottom. Similarly, if reps are over-burdened with tech, they are bound to spend most of the time switching between applications and different user interfaces, wasting valuable time and energy. 


All these challenges point to an obvious solution: bring all tools into one place and make them speak to each other. Ensure that reporting back to the head office is consistent across markets, channels, stakeholders, field teams, call cycles and KPIs. There is also an obvious question to the obvious solution – how?


The Strategy

The ideal strategy is one whereby a company has one core platform, enabling business managers to flexibly configure and roll out apps for each market and channel, all the while maintaining a consistent data schema and integrations with core systems of record. Depending on the requirements, they can plug each of the right capabilities - whether image recognition or dynamic routing - in and out of the platform. As an example, Zaptic allows business managers to identify the activities of the store call and then choose which capabilities to implement. Let’s follow the steps of one such store call, designed by the business manager and assigned to a field rep (Jane), which integrates all the relevant capabilities for optimal increase in sales effectiveness, efficiency and coverage.


Jane’s Store Call

Having checked and updated her visit plan for the day in Zaptic, Jane begins her first store call. As she is scanning the store floor, Jane spots a perfect space for a new display. An opportunity to implement the latest floor standing display unit (FSDU) is definitely something to discuss with the store manager later.


Next, Jane needs to check KPIs such as missing and present SKUs, pricing and share of shelf to ensure on shelf availability and planogram compliance. She used to do the check manually which took up so much time and, in the middle of a busy noisy shop, made mistakes more likely. Now, with digital measurement, all she needs to do is take a picture of the shelves.  In a few minutes, Jane will receive an image, showing her exactly how the shelf needs to look and if there are any missing, misplaced or mispriced products.


In the meantime, Jane can get started on the next steps of the call. Rather than a lengthy manual availability audit, Zaptic guides Jane to the problem SKUs identified by analytics of the EPOS data.


Next step - promotions. Jane can easily see all the current promotions. She has already been notified by a member of the crowd that one is not compliant. By now, the image recognition results have come back, adding more issues to the opportunity basket that she will now discuss with the store manager. As every issue has a best-practice fix and Jane also has access to sales data SKU, she can collaborate with the store manager to fix issues at the root cause.


Turning to the up-coming promotions which Jane can also see in Zaptic, she makes use of the image augmentation technology to show where and how the new display will be positioned in-store. The store manager likes what he sees and because of the historical sales performance Jane has shown him in Zaptic he orders extra stock to meet the expected demand of the promotion. To save her from returning especially for the display set-up, Jane assigns the task to the delivery driver,who also has Zaptic on his mobile, to check that the new display has been activated by the agreed date.


Next-generation retail execution and monitoring with Zaptic - learn more!