The turbulent retail patterns and panic-buying of COVID-19 are changing the way Australian brands and retailers make decisions both daily and strategically. The pandemic has shown one of the keys to achieving retail success is to be more data-centric – a trend that has been accelerated by COVID.
By relying on retail insights and hard data rather than guesswork, we can make smarter decisions to drive increased sales for our clients and better shopping experiences for Australian retail customers.
The good news is that many larger players in the retail industry have already recognised the importance of data. But the reality is, versus other mature markets overseas, real-time SKU level sales data is hard to come by with the majority of day-to-day data kept in-house by retailers or at best accessible via the Retailers’ data apps. Without this crucial data available all the time in real-time, our industry has to look to different and disparate data sets and work with data scientists to join the dots. At Strikeforce, we have unprecedented access to retail and field marketing data and an expert team dedicated to Category and Insights. This allows us to combine a range of external and internal datasets to drive better results for our clients.
In the following article, we uncover the four key ways we are using data to drive field optimisation, in-store precision and ultimately aggregate these methods to predict and optimise field marketing ROI.
1. Field Optimisation
The first data-driven step is optimising the everyday movements of field marketing teams. This is as simple as using data to drive where to go, when, with what resource, to carry out what tasks and with what tools. Whilst simple, it is, in turn, extremely sophisticated in the use of data to get to the right answers to these field marketing questions. In recent months, we’ve been able to combine our different sources of data to know where it is best to send field teams across Australia through integrating COVID-specific information such as hotspot data and panic buying insights into our field marketing planning, as well as using other well used data sources such as demographic, shopper and consumer data.
It has given our team across the country the ability to indicate which resource would be dispatched and why, an apt time to visit, and with what tasks and tools.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ coverage cycle anymore, and outsourced field teams present the optimal agility to go where the action is/needed – the future is here, and it’s all about optimisation.
2. On-Shelf Availability
While major retailers have their own apps to support the fixing of on-shelf availability (OSA), this is often the most significant barrier to realising full sales potential due to poor understanding of what the data means. We gain meaningful insights from linking major retailers apps such as the Woolworths Compass app and Coles Portal with our field data and VRP team.
By connecting these data sources to real-time movements, we have the best chance of improving on-shelf availability and which stories to prioritise.
Additionally, linking to the Vendor Replenishment Planning (VRP) or Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) service where we work with clients and retailers to ensure the stock is in the right place within the supply chain, this enables us to get an optimal alignment of stock movement in the supply chain versus on-shelf availability.
This approach to planning has been trialled and tested significantly throughout the ‘new normal’, highlighting the importance of precision to save in wasted costs. Combining a retailer’s information with our expertise and understanding of the current store situation helps brands find and act upon missed opportunities.
3. Genuine Return on Investment Modelling
Gathering data on industry averages to build an informed foundation on forecasting and budgeting is not a new concept; customising data to your specific product is. At Strikeforce, because we are able to optimise on-shelf availability and our field team every day, we can track improvements in key indicators and show return on investment on a granular level.
In this part of the process, data is not only used to improve our service; it is used to assess the value of the interventions and decisions we make on behalf of our clients. This continually informs our team and clients that their budget has been spent well, efficacy has been improved as well as expected return on future tactics.
4. Predictive Scenarios (What if?)
The previous three data-driven activities form the baseline for predictive scenario building and planning. If you integrate data throughout the process, you have constant benchmarks to assess how field work can be further optimised. By this point in the process, we have an enormous amount of retailer and brand data that we are able to combine and can begin to integrate predictive analytics into our planning to be precise about where future budget goes.
Predictive scenarios are informed by test and control projects in-store, allowing tactics to be trialled and evaluated to ensure the approach is providing an optimised ROI.
This is key as it is often the small tactical tweaks that can lead to significant ROI improvements such as monitoring and evaluating trade marketing spend, investment in promotions and price elasticity, alongside aggregated retailer customer insights.
Promotional planning cycles can be arranged to flesh out predictive modelling of scenarios, helping retailers and brand owners make informed decisions. Our Category & Insights capability coupled with our Space Planning services lay out the roadmap to growth. We are the experts in identifying opportunities on the shopper path to purchase, the impact of varied category adjacencies, range assortment and segmentation on shelf.
Data and insights continue to fuel our client’s success at Strikeforce; especially in these unprecedented times. The COVID-19 crisis has proven the value of our data and insights capability, energising our operations and services whilst delivering optimised results for our clients. It’s a data-driven world in retail marketing, and we’re proud to be at the forefront.