As the last installment of the NARMS Webinar Series pointed out, there is a wealth of research available that can help guide and enhance the efforts of the at-retail merchandising and marketing community. In fact, NARMS will shortly be seeking your opinion on the content of an industry study. In the meantime, helpful nuggets of data appear every day in the trade media. Today we will look at a consumer survey by IBM as reported on in the pages of Chain Store Age.
The study looked at the shopping behavior of 1,200 consumers between the ages of 13 and 60. The key themes again center on future shoppers being social, mobile and self sufficient. There is less differentiation between the various touchpoints of the customer experience and more focus on seeking an overall flawless experience regardless of the channel.
The next generation of shoppers, or digital natives, is much more likely to shop on mobile devices. This group wants retailers and brand marketers to know them and their shopping patterns intimately. In return, they are much more willing to provide information about themselves and will actively advocate for the stores and brands that they see as delivering a complete omnichannel experience.
Cost and quality are listed as among the most important factors for the participants of the study. Being in-stock (91 percent), delivering on an overall experience (90 percent) and providing a convenient return process (85 percent) were the next three factors for recommending retailers. The post-purchase process was listed as important in building brand loyalty and advocacy.
Members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing services industry have a huge impact on the touchpoints experienced by the future shopper. Out-of-stocks can cause a shopper to quickly find a replacement brand or store via their smart-phone and turn a powerful brand ambassador into a negative influence. The story shares many more findings and you should click on the link to get more details.
Research and how to use it is an important topic for NARMS. It is vital that our members get involved and tell us what they are looking for. One way to get involved and have your voice heard is to attend The Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) presented by NARMS scheduled for April 27-30 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. Click here to find out more and to register.
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.
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 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.
A few years ago, talk of RFID technology was all the rage at retail. The radio frequency identification tags were mandated and implemented by several major retailers at the case and pallet level as a supply chain and warehousing tool. The promise was that it was just a matter of time before RFID tags found their way to the sales aisle to improve inventory practices, reduce slippage and lower out-of-stocks. But cost per unit, infrastructure cost and privacy concerns slowed the widespread use of the technology at the item level.
In a recent guest column in DSN Retailing Today, Mark Hill of Avery Dennison makes the case that wide-spread item level RFID implementation is not a matter of cost, but a matter of return. Hill says that the real ROI of RFID comes at the item level. Several large retailers such as Walmart, J.C. Penney and Macys have done the testing, fully understand the benefits and are moving quickly toward roll-out.
The benefits of item level RFID come in the areas of inventory accuracy, increased sales, improved loss prevention, reduced inventory levels and vendor fraud. The column says that a typical retail stock level that is 65 to 80 percent accurate at the SKU level, can be 99 percent accurate using RFID technology.
For members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry, widespread implementation of item level RFID technology can have major implications. An enhanced ability to know exactly where product is can make our services even that much more valuable and efficient in the store. First, there is the roll-out phase which certainly could require additional at-retail support. Next, while RFID can help to better understand out-of-stocks, it cannot physically merchandise shelves, cut-in new items or build displays. A working knowledge of RFID technology and its potential uses at store level could be a tremendous advantage for the NARMS member in the near future.
For several weeks now, leading indicators of retail sales have been prognosticating a healthy back-to school (BTS) season, over and above the sales results from last year. Back in late June, we reported on a Price Grabber survey that said 46 percent of shoppers plan to spend more this year. Two more sources came out with news this week to support the optimism.
A story in DSN Retailing Today reports on an NPD study that says, although spending will be later than usual, 31 percent plan to spend more than they did last year. Only 22 percent made that claim a year ago. NPD attributes the later shopping pattern to the warm weather throughout the country. In their study, 37 percent said they will finish BTS shopping by August 1 and 58 percent said that would take until September 1. Department stores will see a big bump with 26 percent of the spending done there, 26 percent at footwear stores and 16 percent online.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) also came out with predictions for the season. They say the average consumer with kids in grades K-12 will spend approximately $85 more this year on their children for the BTS season. BTS spending will reach $83 billion which is the second highest spending event for consumers behind the traditional winter holidays. As far as where those dollars go, NRF says that $264 will be spent on clothes, $217 on electronics, $129 on shoes and $95 on school supplies. They too predict purchases will be more spread out throughout the summer.
The lengthened BTS season means a couple of things to at-retail merchandising and marketing service companies. Out-of-stocks will be a challenge in key BTS categories. Better sales will mean more price and promotion competition and thus more in-store promotional materials and displays. There will be an added focus on the department, shoe, apparel and electronics channels. Talk to your retailer and manufacturer customers now about their ongoing at-retail BTS challenges and needs.
According to a new report by Catalina Marketing, 1.5 percent of shoppers determine the success or failure of a new CPG product. The findings of the report add to a flurry of recent data that support the absolute need for superior execution of at-retail merchandising and marketing services. The study looked at the purchasing behavior of 41 million consumers at 20,000 food, drug and mass stores. Here are a few of the top line observations from the report:
Just 1.5 percent of shoppers made up 80 percent of volume for the average new product in the study.
These shoppers were worth 1.6 times the value of the average new product buyer.
Top category buyers were 3.8 times more likely to try a new product than the average shopper.
Top brand buyers were 5.8 times more likely to try a new brand extension in the category.
Top category and brand buyers repeated at a significantly higher rate, 19 percent and 28 percent greater than average.
The battle for market share goes on daily at-retail. These findings show that the top category shoppers that are responsible for a large percentage of sales are also way more likely to shift brands if they encounter shelf conditions like out-of-stocks, missing shelf labels or distribution voids. They are also highly open to sampling new products.
These are just a few of the nuggets of information contained in the report. You can download your copy here. The bottom line is that the data seems to support the notion that just a small amount of shoppers drive the success of a new product. That makes the target small, concentrated and way too valuable to risk by failing to execute at the store and shelf level.
Chain Store Age ran a story on the Multichannel Shopping Survey by Hybris that found 80 percent of consumers are more likely to become loyal shoppers if retailers offer a highly integrated multichannel experience. The survey found that 39 percent of those surveyed buy more goods on-line than in-store and 46 percent plan to do so during the 2012 holiday season.
This does not mean the end for brick-and-mortar. It does however raise the stakes on executing at-retail merchandising and marketing initiatives to ensure that time spent in the store is maximized. Even while in-store, the consumer is engaged in multichannel as 19 percent say they browse their mobile device while they shop. They compare prices (66 percent), compare product choices (27 percent) and read recommendations by other shoppers (7 percent).
The risk of the consumer leaving the store empty-handed has increased because they no longer have the uncertainty of the product they seek being available elsewhere. If they do leave, the product and the retailer take a significant hit to their sales and market share. Do not forget that if the consumer leaves the store, they are apt to tell their friends about the bad experience. We know that these conversations are no longer limited to a small circle of friends, but can number into the thousands or more via social media.
Out-of-stocks, poorly presented products or missing POP can force the consumer to seek trial of another product. Multichannel shopping has significantly reduced the margin for error on at-retail execution. It just does not make sense to trust these important duties to overworked and inexperienced store staffs or sales representatives whose time is better spent selling. The services offered by the members of NARMS are more important than ever.
Retailers and manufacturers are using advanced analytics and shopper data to know more about their customers than any time in history. They know what the shopper buys, how often they buy and what other products they buy at the same time. The most recent edition of Competitive Edge by Willard Bishop takes a specific look at what it calls a must have in terms of advanced analytics: Macro Space Optimization.
Competitive Edge points out that in general the industry has used data to make progress in improving inventory levels and store conditions to enhance the shopping experience. However, even with all these tools at our disposal, the problem of out-of-stocks has not really improved in 20 years. Bishop numbers put the level of OOS still at almost eight percent. Obviously, it is advantageous to identify fast movers and make sure there is enough stock on hand to handle periods of high traffic.
Using advanced analytics and shopper data is an important step in taking on OOS by making store space as productive as possible. It gives us the tools to minimize potential outages and maximize sales opportunities. Once armed with that information, it is time to execute the new plans at the store and shelf level. However, this logistical challenge can take all the software and analysis and render it null and void.
In order for a product to be on sale, it has to be on the shelf. Likewise, in order for a merchandising plan to impact consumers, it also has to be put on the shelf. All the best laid plans in retail history have run into this one unavoidable conclusion, and many have failed because of it.
Luckily, the members of NARMS are on hand to make these plans a reality. These at-retail merchandising and marketing service professionals provide the trained people, retail experience and technology to roll out merchandising initiatives to all channels of retail.
The members of NARMS and their key stakeholders will be meeting at The Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC), held April 14 – 17, 2012 at Saddlebrook Resort near Tampa. The four days of networking, learning and motivation are coming up fast so if you have not registered or made your travel plans, do so today. The agenda and conference registration, as well as sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities for the 2012 RMMC are available now at the Conference Center on www.narms.com.
Two recent news items underline the need for exceptional execution at shelf level and the value of at-retail merchandising and marketing service providers who are on the front lines of retail every day. The industry will be getting together in one short month for The Retail Merchandising & Marketing Conference (RMMC). The event will be held on April 14-17, 2012 at Saddlebrook Resort, north of Tampa.
In mid-February, the chief merchandising officer of Wal-Mart told a group of suppliers that the retail giant could boost U.S. sales by $5 billion per year by keeping store shelves fully stocked. The company later said the amount was a rough estimate designed to motivate employees and suppliers, but the point was delivered loud and clear. Wal-Mart does currently work with a NARMS member to walk the aisles and monitor for out-of-stocks.
Another news item reported on an AisleBuyer study that said 75 percent of consumers would switch brands if offered real-time mobile promotions by a competitive product delivered to their smartphones while shopping in a store aisle. The promotion and the medium are more important to smartphone owners than brand loyalty. With these factors making a major difference, it is not hard to imagine what would happen if the consumer encountered an out-of-stock after getting the promotion. A major opportunity missed.
The issue with out-of-stocks is simple: if it is not on the shelf, it is not for sale. Even the largest retailer and the most savvy brand marketer are a prisoner to that simple truth. Luckily, the members of NARMS are experts at providing merchandising services in-store that can greatly reduce out-of-stocks, boost the bottom line and enhance brand loyalty and market share.
The members of NARMS are getting together at the RMMC to discuss these and many other important topics. A voice from every member of the association is crucial to the future of the association and the industry. If you have not already registered, the only thing missing is you! The agenda and conference registration, as well as sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities for the 2012 RMMC are available now at the Conference Center on www.narms.com. #RMMC561