Focus on the Field
As a marketer, you work tirelessly for months to create, produce, and advertise a new product or promotional campaign. Maybe you have a few hiccups along the way, but you always manage to deliver it to stores in time for launch. All that hard work and effort can be for naught if your field team fails to successfully execute in-store.
If the in-store team sets up the display incorrectly, or misses the in-store date, your campaign is noncompliant. Retail compliance can be defined as properly built displays or signage appearing in the correct place in-store on the scheduled date. Noncompliance can result in confused shoppers, but most importantly, it impacts sales.
In the 2014 Mass Merchant Shopper Engagement Study conducted by POPAI, when a display is present in-store, sales can increase by as much as 1.4 times.
Why is noncompliance a trend?
According to the 2014 Compliance Initiative Study done by POPAI, 42% of displays are noncompliant and 17% are drastically different than planned. That leaves only 41% of all displays compliant. This could be a result of various pitfalls in both the planning and store execution stages:
Planning Stage (Corporate):
- Compliance isn’t stressed as a priority to field personnel
- Unknown store layouts; display space assumed incorrectly
- Unaware of which programs are not working
- No action taken to stop noncompliance from happening
- Lack of field follow-up; therefore, lack of feedback
In-Store Execution Stage (Field):
- Missing signage or campaign components
- Confusing POP assembly instructions
- Not enough staff/high turnover
- Each new display is something to re-learn
- Stores are simply too busy to set up the display
- Display is low on the priority list, behind customer service and merchandising
Starting at the Top
Compliance is still a pain point for many retailers and brand marketers. Retail store headquarters often expect too much of its in-store field teams. Leaders expect compliance to be up to 90-100%, but retailers are discovering it is nowhere near perfection.
What can marketing leadership do to ensure compliance?
- Monitor before, during and after set date
- Assign clear responsibilities
- Provide simple, clear communications
Dr. Hugh Phillips of Phillips, Foster & Boucher says, “Don’t let your message get lost between headquarters and your store network.” Emails, spreadsheets and lists are not enough. Without guidance, visuals, motivation, priority lists or regular checkups, compliance will always be an issue.
Visual graphics and displays are essential to the most important aspect of customer retail preference: ambiance. When displays are located in the right spot and are set up correctly, it enhances the customer experience. You don’t want customers avoiding your store because it lacks atmosphere. Consider a retail inspection or audit to ensure compliance, because, after all, a low compliance rate will erode in-store sales opportunities.
Compliance is attained when stores receive everything when and where they need it, including the proper tools and instructions. Work with your suppliers to ensure kits are clearly marked, and contain all the necessities to put the display together quickly. Don’t assume all stores have a certain piece of hardware. Spend the money to include it in the display kit, otherwise stores will put it aside to wait for a hardware delivery, and your display may never make it to the sales floor.
The Future of Store Compliance
Retail store compliance is evolving. Compliance technology solutions have been developed and implemented to aid field employees in their efforts to comply with headquarters’ demands. And many companies are now utilizing helpful mobile retail inspection applications in their stores, or hiring third parties to audit store compliance.
You Cannot Manage What You Cannot Measure
Most of the time, compliance is largely unmonitored; therefore, unmeasured. Store teams need to be set up for success, and that starts with quality leadership. Without a purpose and a plan for measurement, there is no incentive for the field to get your display from the back room to store floor.
Current practices need a new, thoughtful strategy. To encourage compliance and allow for more sales opportunity, here are some ideas:
- Store profiling
- Third party audit
- Retail audit software
- Automated shelf compliance technology
Spend the time and money to track and identify the source of the problems and correct them. Remember, there is no such thing as perfection in retail. Mishaps are bound to happen and you will never achieve 100% compliance, but hold your office and your field employees to the highest standards, and first focus on those ‘quick wins.’ The more you collaborate with the field and build strong tactical compliance measures, the higher likelihood of a successful campaign.
Your supply chain vendors should offer compliance solutions, check in with them and see what they can do to help improve your in-store execution and increase your compliance rate.