Raise your hand if you have heard this one before: if it is not on the shelf, it is not for sale. This simple statement is a universal truth of retailing and yet the issue of out-of-stocks (OOS) continues to vex manufacturers and retailers. The problem was brought to light once again in a recent Chain Store Age story reporting on a study by The Retail Feedback Group.
According to the story, The 2012 U.S. Supermarket Experience Study called OOS the number one element that negatively effects shopper satisfaction. On a five point scale, shoppers who found all the items on their shopping list rated their in-store experience at a 4.54 compared with those who did not at 3.97. Keeping a clean in-store environment is also very important, rating a 4.53 on the scale.
It is not just shopper satisfaction that is impacted by OOS. The lack of satisfaction leads directly to lost sales and lost market share. Fifty percent of those shoppers go to a different store to buy the missing item, but 38 percent forego the item all together. Only fourteen percent buy a replacement item at the store and 12 percent buy a different brand or size.
There are many reasons for the problem of out-of-stocks. If it were just one or two things, it would have been fixed by now. Lack of human resources, missing shelf tags, inability to cut-in new items and distribution voids are just a few of the factors.
At-retail merchandising and marketing service companies provide services that tackle a significant amount of the issues that result in OOS conditions. Association studies of its members and independent surveys of their clients agree that well executed at-retail merchandising activities can help achieve incremental sales gains of around 10-15 percent.
Even though much attention has been placed on the issue, the battle against OOS is still raging. The members of NARMS are on the front line for manufacturer and retail trading partners fighting that battle.
The term Shopper Marketing has enjoyed a high profile for the past few years and the basic principles of gaining insight, identifying real shopper needs and executing programs to fulfill those needs has enjoyed success. In a recent blog, Supermarket News Editor-in-Chief David Orgel advises practitioners to strive for Shopper Marketing programs that engage shoppers for long periods of time and avoid the temptation of quick gains by using overly aggressive price promotion.
The main point of the blog is that Shopper Marketing should not be about price promotion or short term sales gain, but should address the needs of the shopping behavior and meet business objectives of the manufacturer and retailer trading partners. Orgel cites a couple of strong examples initiated by Walgreen’s and Wal-Mart/Procter & Gamble that have legs and go far beyond focusing on short term wins.
Whether it has been Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) initiatives, Category Management practices or now Shopper Marketing, the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry have played a vital role in executing the tactics in-store. Seamless, flawless execution can keep these programs on the straight-and-narrow by allowing plans to work as designed.
The practice of Shopper Marketing does indeed have legs when executed with its founding principles in mind. The last six-feet to the aisle and shelf can be the longest stretch that these programs have to travel. The members of NARMS provide the legs (and arms) to make sure that the promises of Shopper Marketing practices continue on a long term path to purchase.
Keeping pace with the changes of the season, NARMS headquarters announced three big changes of their own last week. The creation of the Retail Service Provider (RSP) committee and the rebranding of Associate Members to now be called Support Service Members are changes designed to reflect the current and ever-evolving state of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry. Another announcement, the creation of the Affordable Care Act Compliant Private Health Exchange, will help address the growing concern for the new Affordable Care Act, and its business tax provisions in 2014 and beyond.
The Affordable Care Act Compliant Private Health Exchange is a value-added service provided at no cost to NARMS members. It can be found online at www.narms-exchange.com. The NARMS-Exchange is an information source and a quote engine for health insurance offered through a defined contribution income tax exempt approach. There is a short video on the website under the employer tab that will further clarify the program and how it works.
NARMS-Exchange was created by Support Service members Robert Plante and Rob Dooley specifically for the members of NARMS and is more than just a website. Both Plante and Dooley are available to consult with you at no cost on how the Affordable Care Act will affect your business based on the unique characteristics of your company.
To further enhance your understanding of the new law, Dooley and Plante will be leading the next installment of the NARMS Webinar series on October 23. You can register by visiting the members section of www.narms.com. The team will also be leading one of our HR Track breakout sessions at the Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference scheduled for April 27-30 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Registration for RMMC will be active shortly and is highly recommended for human resources and key staff members involved with healthcare topics.
The NARMS-Exchange is another example of how the members of our Association can work together for the mutual benefit of all and is a vivid example of the benefits of membership. Visit the website today and start down a path of preparation for the Affordable Health Care Act.
In the September edition of Competitive Edge by Willard Bishop, author Jon Hauptman prepares retailers for the “Walmart Pricing Challenge.” The retail giant is challenging consumers to shop at their stores and then compare basket savings. But the bigger message is not how to combat Walmart, but how to distinguish the store without having to get into a price war. Many of the points are price strategy related, but there are some strong at-retail merchandising components that can help retailers and their manufacturer partners maintain sales and market share.
Competitive Edge tells us if a retailer wants to retain customers, they must find ways to romance them with unique and appealing special offers and services. Quality, customer service and loyalty programs are ways to target individual shoppers in an effort to distinguish between large and impersonal discount centers.
One specific area spelled out in the report is the use of endcaps. The author describes endcaps as the most valuable real estate in the store. The advice is to use these high impact spots to build large and impressive displays that highlight excitement and value.
Store layouts, signage, displays, adjacencies, category sets, sampling programs and in-stock levels all play a major role in how a retailer shines a light on itself and communicates quality, customer service and value to shoppers. Even self described value shoppers are saying that quality is still very important to them in regards to where they shop and what they buy.
In an era of strong price competition and shrinking margins, it can be difficult to stay focused on sales building at-retail initiatives with over-burdened and inexperienced store staff. More than ever, it makes sense to outsource these critical functions to the professional at-retail merchandising and marketing companies that make up NARMS. You can download a copy of Competitive Edge by clicking here.
Almost since its founding, NARMS has been a leader in helping its members to source qualified at-retail merchandising and marketing service store representatives to execute the in-store initiatives of their clients. The Recruiter, JobBank and Career Connection have been tremendous tools for the industry and a major benefit of membership in the Association. While that is still the case, the evolution and maturation of the job board industry has caused NARMS to take a long look at how our members post their job opportunities and the associated costs.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of your job listings and allow them to reach a larger targeted audience, NARMS is making changes to the way you submit your postings. These changes will take effect on October 1st, and will require more specific wording and information such as city-state and zip code. Stay tuned for more information on support and training to be delivered via the NARMS Webinar Series scheduled for October.
Why make these changes? When you list a job on JobBank and Career Connection, they are aggregated into other top job board sites to give you maximum exposure. These feeds are sent to sites including Indeed.com, SimplyHired.com and also are posted to social media groups on Twitter and Facebook which then aggregate into many other job boards. These leading job sites have increased their requirements for accepting our job feeds to reduce spam-like listings which may not represent the specific and reputable job opportunities that their users are looking for. The results of the changes being made by NARMS will ensure that each of your job offers will get the maximum exposure and produce the quality candidates that you deserve.
The modifications have also caused a review of the program pricing. We think you will agree that the increases are nominal considering that the changes help ensure the effectiveness, visibility and credibility of your job listings and the Association in general. The following member program pricing will take effect on October 1st.
Single job listing: $ 99 for a 30-day period
Five up listing: $ 198 for a 30-day period (one job rotating to top of the list every 5th day)
JobBank Showcase: $ 400 for a 30-day period (4 job listings with company logo)
JobBank Unlimited: $ 1,500 for a 30-day period (unlimited listings)
As a result of these enhancements, The JobBank, Career Connection and Recruiter will be undergoing maintenance on Saturday, September 29 between approximately 3-5 pm ET. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience during this process.
You can contact Fiona Lipscomb of the NARMS staff with any questions by clicking here and you will have an opportunity to interact by taking part in the webinar in October.
Much has been said and written about the baby boomer generation as a key shopper group. In the new issue of Times & Trends, SymphonyIRI calls this group of over 80 million the most studied shopper group in market research history. The report, Baby Boomers: Riding the Wave of Diversity, takes a close look at spending patterns and buying power of boomers, further studies and breaks down sub-segments of the group, and prescribes potential action items for CPG manufacturers and retailers to better service baby boomer market needs. As always, there is a strong correlation between the action items and at-retail merchandising and marketing activities.
Here are a few highlights of the SymphonyIRI findings: Spending for the group fell during 2010 and younger boomers continue to outspend older boomers and seniors for the past few years. The club and dollar channels have gained in market share for the group, while grocery and drug channels have witnessed a decline over the past year. Health concerns drive spending that increases with age for healthcare products, but decreases for beauty and personal care items. Boomers are similar to the average shopper when it comes to private label spending, but a disproportionate amount is directed toward the drug and dollar channels. Internet, social media and mobile technology use is much lower among older shoppers, but that is expected to change very shortly.
There is much more to this issue of Times & Trends than we have time or space to share. You will want to follow the link and download your own free copy. To wrap up the message in one neat package, the report advices manufacturers and retailers to continue to invest and understand this key demographic for their wants and needs at the market/store level. The next step is to deliver personal and customized in-store programs and direct-to-consumer marketing programs that speak to those needs. The members of NARMS can help on both counts.
Does the premise of learning while working seem absurd? After all, work for you and your team is a place where real work and putting out fires consume every minute. But like any game changing strategy, a truly innovative approach adopts a daring and counter-intuitive stand. Join Art Turock as he shows us the solution in the next NARMS Webinar - The Learning While Working Game Changer Strategy. The session will be held on Thursday, September 27 at 11:00 AM CDT. The NARMS Webinar Series is sponsored by Natural Insight and brought to you through the technology of ReadyTalk.
This one hour, highly interactive session will feature the results of a survey which will help assess how well your work process produces learning and skill-building to improve performance year after year. To get the best results from this interactive webinar, please remember to complete a 15-question survey by September 19th and also invite your work colleagues to participate.
The solution lies in designing a work process where employees constantly build capabilities while work still gets done. During the webinar, we will reveal the results of the survey, identify limitations in your current practices, and determine solutions to create job-imbedded development opportunities. Turock will provide coaching to help you dispense with obstacles and implement change. Get ready to apply the most research-based and time-efficient design to produce continuous skill improvement and ultimately elite performance on your team.
Turock is an elite performance provocateur who translates elite performance research into practices for developing superior talent as a competitive advantage. His presentations, coaching, and consulting efforts disturb his clients sense of what constitutes competent performance and triggers their conceiving and aligning with new standards for elite performance. His ideas have appeared in Success, USA Today, Fortune, Association Management, Bloomberg News, and CNN. Since 1986, Turock has been a valued resource to over 120 Fortune 500 companies.
In his blog on Supermarket News, Editor-in-Chief David Orgel reminisces about the birth of Efficient Consumer Response (ECR). As he reminds us, the ECR initiative was introduced 20 years ago at the GMA Executive Conference and was a sweeping effort to improve the supply chain, reduce costs and serve the customers better. ECR was responsible for many ground breaking activities such as category management. But perhaps the most enduring impact surrounds the larger concept of collaboration between manufacturer and retailer.
Industry leaders recently gathered in Colorado Springs for the 2012 GMA Executive Conference to discuss the impact of ECR and to recognize some of the early pioneers and champions. The consensus is that we should never stop trying to improve through collaborative efforts between trading partners. Prior to ECR, that relationship did not exist.
Whether it is called ECR, category management or a more modern term like shopper marketing, the over-arching philosophy of stake holders working together is the best possible outcome of the past 20 years. Even now, as the retail industry tries to dig out of a recession and is dealing with new challenges, enhanced communication and collaboration is the key. Changing consumer behavior, integrating e-commerce, social media and show rooming are just some of the opportunities that are at hand.
The members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service community have played a huge role in this collaboration. NARMS members have acted as the conduit between trading partners in delivering important tactical in-store support to make boardroom decisions into at-retail realities. Brand marketers and retailers have entrusted some of their most critical consumer touch points to this experienced, dedicated and flexible group of retail support companies.
So happy birthday ECR, the members of NARMS are on the job to make sure that the spirit of industry collaboration that you fostered lives on forever.
When looking for marketplace information to support our position with customers, the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry often lean on the big three channels: grocery, mass and drug. But we have seen channel migration and it is getting difficult to ignore other channels such as dollar stores and convenience stores when it comes to monitoring best service practices. The print edition of CSPnet just recently featured a story on their annual 2012 CSP-Service Intelligence Mystery Shop which not only provides a benchmark for the c-store industry, but also clearly demonstrates the value of a well planned and executed mystery shopping program and the valuable shopper data it can produce.
The publication sponsored mystery shop covered over 900 stores and featured the top players in the industry such as 7-Eleven, Casey’s General Stores, Kum & Go, Kwik Trip, Quick Chek, QuikTrip, Sheetz, Stripes and Thorntons. For the third time in four years, Kwik Trip came out on top. CSPnet also featured a companion story on how Kwik Trip reacted after finishing second a year ago.
The information in these stories is incredibly fresh. The shop was conducted from April to June of 2012. After the well choreographed visit, the mystery shoppers filled out a survey with different categories such as customer service, interior cleanliness, merchandising, exterior cleanliness and employee appearance. The scoring was weighted to reflect the overall customer experience.
Take some time, click on the links, download and read these two stories. If your company provides mystery shopping services, they make a great case study to share with customers and potential customers on why and how they should continuously monitor and take action at the shelf level to achieve even greater sales and market share. It just so happens that we know a group of companies who can help them out.
The U.S. retail real estate market is showing signs of improvement and stability. A story in Chain Store Age cited a report released this week by Jones Lang LaSalle that says improving retail sales and growing population is driving the recovery in core markets. The firm expects secondary markets to follow suit soon.
According to the report, vacancy rates have hovered around seven percent for three consecutive quarters. Rents have fallen nationally almost two percent over last year and have moved down half a percent in the second quarter alone. In major markets, rents have plummeted three percent over the last year and retailers are taking advantage of attractive rates. Growth markets mentioned specifically in the report are Miami, Washington, D.C., Tampa and Boston.
Improved retail real estate conditions and modestly improving sales figures are certainly good news for the at-retail merchandising and marketing services industry. As retailers expand into new locations and markets, it is more important than ever that new spaces are converted quickly and on-budget.
Manufacturers want new products cut-in quickly, out-of-stocks kept to a minimum, and P-O-P that gets out of the backroom and onto the sales floor. Product samples, demonstrations and mystery shops are all proven techniques to enhance the shopping experience and gather important shopper data.
Excellent in-store execution of sales building operational and promotional activities maximizes the investment in growth and can ensure success in a new or remodeled store space. The members of NARMS are experts at providing a third-party solution for these often overlooked factors for growth and prosperity.