Learn, Change, Grow. Those are three powerful words and they accurately describe what awaits the attendees of the 2013 Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC). The annual NARMS event is slated for April 27-30 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. A big and exciting milestone took place yesterday as registration went live on the official RMMC website. The 2013 RMMC will offer retailers, retail service providers, manufacturers, members of NARMS and non-members the opportunity to learn, collaborate, network and gain insight into the future of retail.
You can visit the official conference website by clicking here or following the tabs on www.narms.com. The website features everything you need to plan your trip to Scottsdale in April. You will find a welcome from Conference Chair Ron Apel, general RMMC information, conference registration, hotel reservations, sponsorship opportunities and how your company can participate as an exhibitor at the trade show.
The site also features the conference agenda tab already filled with engaging keynote speakers, networking opportunities and informative educational breakout sessions. The breakout sessions offer four tracks discussing trends and important issues relating to Operations, Sales and Marketing, Human Resources and The Changing World.
All retailers, manufacturers, retail service providers, support service companies and anyone whose company has an interest in expanding their knowledge about retail services are encouraged to bring their departmental staff and executives and take advantage of this opportunity to learn and network with well-established industry leaders.
It is time to mark the date and register. Although the site and registration is an exciting development, the real magic happens when you attend and bring your voice, viewpoint and energy to our annual at-retail merchandising and marketing forum.
The latest issue of Competitive Edge by Willard Bishop Consulting examines how retailers and manufacturers are dealing with assortment planning in stores around the country. Some categories need more product variance than others based on geography. Localization of promotions, price and assortment is a way for stores and brands to increase sales and market share in a difficult and competitive environment.
Factors such as the recent Wal-Mart announcement of a $6 billion investment in price matching have raised the importance of a trading partner being able to understand the market on a local level. They will need to know which categories are driven by purchase behaviors that demand the right product at the right price at the right time versus not investing time and money into those that do not.
The report says that true localization is being held up by out-dated tools that rely on POS data and rules-based segmentation. But better use of shopper data is now making it possible to measure active shopper behavior and demand across many retailers and geographies at the same time. The result could be a wide-spread acceptance of localization in assortment planning.
A greater move toward localization will mean greater opportunity for the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing services community. Matching product assortment with local needs calls for more category resets and new item cut-ins and will require service companies to actively manage that work to provide for the variances. It is a great chance to show how the members of NARMS have invested in people, training and systems to meet and exceed the needs of their manufacturer and retailer partners in both shopper marketing data gathering and retail execution.
To prepare and learn more about localized assortment planning, download the latest issue of Competitive Edge by Willard Bishop Consulting.
On Tuesday in our Top Shelf blog, we brought to your attention a Chain Store Age article citing a study conducted by The Retail Feedback Group on Out-of-Stocks (OOS). The article called OOS the number one factor that stands in the way of shopper satisfaction. Today we will look at another Chain Store Age piece by guest columnist Jeff Weidauer of Vestcom International Inc. Weidauer takes another look at OOS, this time digging deeper into the causes and finding that the majority of OOS arise from problems at-retail. Here are some of the main points:
-The author tells us that the food industry OOS average is eight percent of the total store at any given time. In a 40,000 SKU store, this equals over 3,000 products. That statistic is eye opening to say the least.
-It gets worse in the eyes of the shopper. OOS items are generally more common on sale or high demand items. That raises the shopper perception to more like 25 percent.
-OgilvyAction says that 13 percent of shoppers leave the store without making an intended purchase due to OOS.
-The GMA estimates that 25 percent of OOS items are actually in the store, just not placed or restocked on the shelf.
- Seventy-five percent of OOS are caused by in-store problems, not by supply chain problems. This equals about four percent total sales.
If 25 percent of OOS items are actually in the store and 75 percent are caused by at-retail inefficiencies, then what are some of the problems? It might start when store personnel try to hide holes by facing them over with other product and removing shelf tags. Over time, the product slot is gone and back room stock is never brought up to replenish.
Some items are obscured by neighboring product because the available space was not big enough to fit it all in. Items are forced into other places and eventually take over space that was meant for another product. Other times, shelf tags are inaccurate or misread by inexperienced store personnel and stocked with the wrong SKU.
As Weidauer points out, it all comes back to planogram compliance. Lack of execution at the initial shelf set leads to big problems down the road. This is where the members of NARMS bring great value. All of the POS technology or shelf tag improvements in the world will not address the OOS problem if they are not executed properly in the store.
It has been a very busy two weeks at NARMS as preparations are in full swing for the 2013 Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC). There has been a flurry of new members and several changes designed to better align NARMS with the ever-evolving at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry. With the assistance of some new Support Service members, the Association has also added a few new offerings which will provide our members with resources they need in their day to day business operations.
Last week we announced NARMS Health Exchange, which can be found on the Deals for Members page. The exchange is brought to you in large part through the efforts of Support Service member Insurance First. Their expertise is based on a well-trained, experienced staff who can tailor a comprehensive insurance program for your specific needs. Plus, you have the added benefit of working with agents who are fellow NARMS members and understand your needs. Please go to www.narms-exchange to find out more information and preferential rates for NARMS members.
With this development in mind, Rob Dooley will be hosting the next installment of the NARMS Webinar Series on Tuesday, October 23. The topic will be the Affordable Care Act and how this will impact your business. You can register for the webinar by visiting the Members Area on www.narms.com.
Another big development is that Choice Screening has joined NARMS to provide its members with special rates for vital background checks and screenings. A formal announcement will be made once the Choice Screening Exchange page has been established. For those of you who are looking for a reputable company to provide your background checks and screening services, please contact Choice Screening, listed on the Members page.
NARMS recently changed the name of the Associate Member division to Support Service members. These recent additions to member services are clear evidence of the importance of this division for our members, and the reason for the name change. For more information or questions, please contact Fiona Lipscomb, Director of Member Relations & Communications.
In an article for Supermarket News and expanded into a conversation on bricks meet clicks, longtime industry analyst and consultant Bill Bishop examines the grocery market and looks at ways to grow business when the marketplace is actually shrinking. As always, there is a tie-in to at-retail activities to accomplish some of the prescribed tactics. The suggestions were gathered from a recent Supermarket News roundtable of industry analysts. Here are some of the pointers:
Find the price sensitive shoppers. Bishop tells us that price sensitive shoppers make up 25 percent of the market, but limited assortment and dollar stores serve less of a percentage of the marketplace. The suggestion is that supermarkets include a limited assortment or dollar section to capture the segment of price sensitive shoppers that are not being served by hard discounters.
Mimic what successful upscale chains are doing. Chains like Whole Foods and Fresh Market are finding growth while others struggle. These guys must be doing something right so it makes sense to try some of their techniques to capture increased sales. One idea is to mix in some high quality products to create larger trade areas. The point is to find those items that make your store a destination for a special product, and market them aggressively.
Fresh is Fresh. It is no secret that there is a renewed interest among shoppers in fresh produce. Retailers are encouraged to expand produce sections to include more local producers. Within that strategy, price lines can be created by offering a range of quality options such as good, better and best.
Strengthen the Value Proposition. Retailers do not need to be all things to all people. The suggestion is to find one element or dimension and make that your strong point. Using shopper data can help identify criteria valued by shoppers. It can also help find areas of weakness in the competition that can be exploited.
Get millennials in the game. Bishop says this is a challenging segment to reach, but those who can do it can find growth. They want shopping to be easy and fast so areas such as quick pick-up of on-line and mobile orders, and strong prepared foods offerings can make a difference.
As providers of at-retail merchandising services, the members of NARMS win when we help our retailer and manufacturer clients win. Most of the pointers brought forward by Bishop would go unrealized without execution on the sales floor. It is up to us to keep a finger on the pulse of our customers, so they can find those areas of opportunity on the edges.
What’s in a name? What’s in a brand? What is cause marketing and member activation? All of these buzz words have one common purpose: to increase the marketability of your product or service by means of co-branding with a non-profit trade organization which shares a common value or mission.
NARMS is your common value across the retail services industry. Every service category represented by our member companies has some connection to the mission of our Association. Below are three branding components validating the reason to co-brand: Differentiation, Credibility and Authenticity.
Differentiate your company from others by aligning with your non-profit trade association, thereby sharing a common message.
- Place the hyperlinked NARMS logo on your website to show your support of the Association and in return, receive positive public relations and additional marketing opportunities. Click here to download the NARMS logo and activate your membership!
Raise the credibility of your brand by partnering with your non-profit trade association, which then validates and enhances the values of your product or service.
- NARMScertifyU has been developed to provide your employees with the opportunity to improve their skills, gain broader retail knowledge and stand out from the crowd. Some member companies have co-branded with NARMScertifyU to promote this online learning center by placing the hyperlinked NARMScertifyU logo on their job board webpages. Click here to download the NARMScertifyU logo to promote these courses among your staff and field reps!
Authenticate your brand by attracting a wider audience through membership activation with your non-profit trade association.
- By placing our logo on your website, you are leveraging your relationship with NARMS, recognized throughout the retail services industry as the association for promoting and establishing industry standards, providing industry research and educating our member companies.
Click here to see which of our members are branding with us!
Last week this column reported on a Booz & Company study which said 40 percent of consumers identified showrooming as their new shopping strategy. Showrooming is the practice of browsing in the store before buying online, often with a mobile device. Adding to the impact of this finding is another piece of research by comScore which says that four in every five smartphone users access retail content on their device. The initial reaction to the showrooming phenomenon by retailers was to find strategies to combat the practice. But more and more evidence is coming out that suggests showrooming does not need to be a negative consumer behavior.
A new study by Aimia, as reported on by Chain Store Age, says that showroomers may be more loyal customers. That finding puts a completely different spin on how retailers and their supplier partners may view the practice in the big picture. The study showed that showroomers are more likely to sign up for loyalty programs, more willing to trade personal shopper data for rewards and are three times more likely to participate in location-based mobile offers.
The evidence is starting to suggest that showrooming might be a natural extension and the convergence of shopper marketing with digital and mobile retailing. Those who find ways to embrace and augment this shopper experience will emerge with a comprehensive, seamless multi-channel strategy in which merchandising and promotion at brick-and-mortar stores are in perfect alignment with online and mobile offerings.
What does all this mean to the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing services industry? Even with more sales migrating to digital and mobile platforms, the at-retail experience is still extremely important to converting a shopper into a buyer. Make sure your trading partner customers know what your people can do in-store to enhance the shopping experience for showroomers and non-showroomers alike.
Tis the season for many consultancy firms to publish their annual outlooks on the crucial holiday shopping season. These reports serve an important function as they uncover and corroborate key trends for manufacturers and retailers. As a result, at-retail merchandising and marketing service firms such as the members of NARMS can be ready for the needs of their clients. One such study was released this week by Booz & Co. as reported on by DSN Retailing Today.
Booz & Co. surveyed 1,600 people including consumers, store staffs and retail executives for their views on buying behavior and expected trends. There are many interesting findings in the report, but the one that jumps off the page is that 40 percent of those surveyed said that Showrooming or Showcasing is their new shopping strategy. Showrooming is the practice of browsing in the store before buying online. Trading partners wanted to initially combat that practice, but have now seemed to settle in on strategies to drive Showcasing volume to their websites rather than chasing the consumer to other e-tailers such as Amazon.com.
That major finding screams for a comprehensive, seamless multi-channel strategy in which merchandising and promotion at brick-and-mortar stores are in perfect alignment with online and mobile offerings. Conversion of the at-retail shopping experience into a sale has become the overriding concern, regardless of whether that sale occurs in the check-out lane or on a smart-phone.
These trends will no-doubt drive a flurry of new and exciting at-retail service opportunities for the members of NARMS. It falls squarely on our shoulders to be ready for these assignments with the experience, expertise, people and systems that have become the hallmark of at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry.
To truly understand the trends that occur at retail, it is always a good idea to understand what is going on with the ultimate customer: the shopper. Everything trickles down from there, not the other way around. Recently, Progressive Grocer reported on Valassis and its RedPlum Purse String Study. The report finds an increasingly frugal consumer who has become much more determined and proficient at saving money.
The story and study show that 62 percent of consumers spend two hours per week to find savings of $30. Eighteen percent only spent about an hour to find the same savings. The take away is that deal seeking is now second nature to consumers and that they are getting better at it in terms of time and money saved.
They are also becoming more social about their activities. Eighty-three percent share coupons and deals with friends in person and on social media. This sharing behavior pays off. Those who share deals save $31 more per week than those who say they do not.
These shoppers cross between traditional and digital sources to find their deals. Sixty-one percent, up 10 percent from 2011, reported planning their trip mission based on circulars and coupons. Consumers use their smartphones to access coupons, download promotional apps or send text messages to receive a savings reward.
Based on the amount of consumers who say they seek deals and based on the behavior that they exhibit, it is an understatement to say that in-store execution of promotions and reduction of out-of-stocks is vital. Savvy consumers will move on to the competing product quickly if they do not find a product on the shelf. They will use their phone to find another offer costing the manufacturer and retailer brand and market share. They will share this disappointment with family friends and total strangers who will also move on to the next product, regardless of what they find in their outlet.
It is a safe bet that CPG manufacturers and retailers are going to want to take steps to greet these forever frugal deal seekers with in-store and shelf conditions that match the price promotions.
A story in Retail Traffic Magazine brings some optimism for resurgence in new retail development projects in the near future. The trade publication reported on the August edition of National Retailer Demand Monthly by RBC Capital Markets and Lease Trac.
In the report, RBC says that the retailers it tracks will open 11 percent more stores in the next two years than they projected at the end of 2011. That is 78,325 stores and 0.6 percent higher than in June, just a few months ago. The most ambitious channel among traditional retail is dollar stores such as Dollar General and Family Dollar. Some apparel stores, and especially those in active wear, are also in the mood to expand. The story cites World Wear Projects, which will open 650 stores by mid-2014, and Teen Discount Zone, who is looking at opening 400 in the same time period.
What is driving the emerging trend? The story says that the current lack of new construction projects is encouraging retailers to sign leases now while demand is rising and supply of quality space is falling. Sooner or later the lack of supply will force new construction. According to experts, this quarter has seen the start of such a trend and that the economic climate of 2013 may favor a rush of new projects.
The story also cites data supplied by The CoStar Group which predicts completions of retail space at about 37 million square feet in 2013 and growing to almost 73 million square feet in 2014. That would be the high water mark for retail development since the trouble started in 2008.
An increase in leased properties for the purpose of opening a store, or renewed new retail construction projects are great news for the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry.