As the retail landscape changes with different stages of the covid-19 pandemic, consumers have embraced many different ways to shop including direct to consumer, buy online and pick up in store, direct delivery to home either by a retailer or last mile delivery company, and increasingly in urban cities, quick commerce rapid deliveries in 10-15 minutes from mini dark store warehouses.
As we enter 2022 it is surprising that many Retail Operations are then still operating a model from the twenty-tens decade with only Monday – Friday store coverage and predominantly fixed resources. Whilst we celebrate the decade that launched Computer vision Image recognition, for mobiles, cameras and robotics, and flexible crowd sourced resourcing becoming mainstream as the gig economy expanded, the underlying hypotheses of a people led model equals improved in-store execution still holds true for many CPG Retail execution operations.
Whilst the principles of define, execute, measure and learn-improve of Perfect Store programs are now well established in most CPGs, compliance versus either the ideal look of success or specific customer agreements still remains an important barometer of execution effectiveness. The emergence and growth of mobile Image recognition provided CPGs with an efficiency opportunity to both improve measurement accuracy and save time (investment) on category audits, thereby allowing the same number of fixed resources to cover more stores or more categories in the same stores. As Retail execution budgets come under increasing pressure in 2022 with cost price inflation the easy option is to reduce the frequency of KPI measurement to reduce investment and protect fixed resources rather than step change the operation and launch a new go to market model that is tech led and works in conjunction with people resources.
Equally the emergence of POS data reporting companies and platforms to direct fixed resources to stores with lost sales opportunities driven by AI has also offset some fixed resource reductions whilst maintaining the same level of store coverage.
So how do you optimize silo channels of instore metrics measurement (input KPIs) and POS data (output KPI) to really understand cause and effect, complete effective root cause analysis and reduce OOS in the fluid consumer world of 2022?
There are three key actions identified to be relevant and add value in the new normal of 2022.
Decision making for retail execution is still predominantly made at local market level for most CPGs, resulting in duplication of similar systems and processes, whilst not benefiting for cost benefit efficiencies and identifying and scaling best in class solutions. Having worked with execution teams in over thirty global markets the level of process and standardization is very high at around 90%, with some local market laws to be considered, along with varying levels of data availability. A change of decision making back to global leadership with regional implementations supported by an eco-system of centrally agreed service partners, would facilitate implementation scale at speed, improved in-store execution, significant investment efficiency savings and ultimately giving shoppers-customers improved availability and better brand experience.
Shared or Syndicated services also offer CPGs a number of sales opportunities and efficiency benefits. Partnering for merchandising resources in Proximity-Convenience or smaller supermarket channels where standalone coverage may not be geographically or financially viable, supported by task driven in-store execution metric data, offers flexible resourcing options and potentially whitespace opportunities for different stakeholders. Opportunities in sourcing data from syndicated store based measurement solutions also presents opportunities for both sales improvement and investment efficiency savings.
Today, it is not enough for brands to have an online and offline presence, everything must be interconnected. The ultimate goal should not be to generate sales in a specific channel, but to allow shopper-consumer purchases to occur naturally and fluently in the channel the customer chooses. Moving from a siloed to an Omnichannel strategy of integrated physical store, phone, social commerce, mobile and web will allow for more integrated and connected shopper touchpoints, whilst locally based store resources can to be deployed, who can both sell and merchandise in-store, effectively completing an integrated execution resource if all point of sales channels are connected back to the main ERP application.