Gathering information on the situation on the shelves is one of the most important tasks performed by sales representatives of brand manufacturers when visiting a store (outlet), such as a supermarket. Important information on the distribution of products, their positioning on the shelf, any out-of-stock situations, prices, information on competitor products, etc. is currently gathered by the rep on a tablet or a laptop. This information is transferred to the back office electronically for analysis and optimisation purposes, and eventually goes to key account management and category management. In the systems currently used for sales representatives, the employee uses a matrix with a sort sequence set up by the back office, which shows the item and results of the last survey. Category management provides sales staff with a planogram, a visual representation of how the items should be positioned on the shelf. The sales representative goes along the shelf with his/her laptop or convertible, checks the current situation on the shelf and manually records the changes since his/her last visit in the application.
One common problem, however, is that the sort sequence only very rarely corresponds to the rep’s direction of movement, so data acquisition is hindered by frequent scrolling through the application. If the sales representative is using a laptop, then inputting information via the keyboard and finding a space to prop the laptop create further problems. In addition, it is not possible to make a direct assessment about changes identified in situ. Since the employee doesn’t have much time to survey the shelves during his/her visit to the supermarket, efficient data capture would make the job significantly easier. The aim is therefore to find an application for shelf surveys that sales representatives can use easily at the shelf and that minimises the effort required in recording the status quo.
The Android-based app for smart glasses developed by
4brands Reply and
Triplesense Reply enables sales representatives to directly capture the information required and the status of the shelf at a glance, meaning complicated handling of hardware is rendered unnecessary, as is scrolling to find products in the software. Based on the last survey, the smart glasses show the sales representative the products in his/her direction of movement, and the values recorded on his/her last visit.
Where the product and the pre-allocated value correspond to the current stock, the employee confirms the records with a gentle nod of the head or by swiping the touchpad of the glasses. If a value has changed, then the parameters to be surveyed can be edited fuss-free. Speaking an instruction or swiping forwards or backwards increases or decreases the value or changes the status. If the employee discovers a new product on the shelf, he can scan the barcode of this product using the glasses and record the information required in the application.
Once the employee has completed the surveying process, he/she can immediately view the changes: for this purpose, the glasses need to be synchronised with the tablet. The realogram shows a comprehensive evaluation and all the deviations from the planogram. This way, the sales representative can talk to the store manager during the visit regarding any abnormalities and can advise him or her on optimisation measures that can be implemented in the short term.
All product data are available in the SAP Cloud for Customer and are synchronised with the smart glasses via Bluetooth both before and after the visit to the supermarket using the additional tablet app. The shelf survey in the store itself takes place offline, however, since a continuous internet connection cannot always be guaranteed.
The shelf survey process is simplified and speeded up considerably for sales representatives: they have their hands free, have a direct view of the products in the right sequence, and save time. The information gathered during the visit is more reliable than that of the current process, because sales representatives can identify abnormalities on the shelf more easily and discuss them immediately with the store manager. In addition, the analyses in the backend – those that the Key Account Manager and Category Manager carry out on the basis of the data gathered – are more reliable. Higher sales in the outlet and in the category are achieved thanks to immediate measures introduced by the sales representative and to the more reliable figures in category management.
4brands Reply is the Reply company that provides comprehensive consulting services for companies in the consumer goods industry. It helps with the design of customers’ commercial processes according to the ECR principle and also implements software solutions that provide long-term support for the corporate goals of their customers. To do this, 4brands Reply follows the proven concept of integrating software components provided by technology leaders such as SAP into customer-specific solutions.
Triplesense Reply is the Reply group company specialising in digital full service. For their clients Triplesense Reply creates their customers' experiences with focus on digital points: At the center of websites, portals, campaigns or applications, the best user experience stands out for the consumer. The service spectrum consist of marketing and strategy consultation, conception and creation, technical realization, e-commerce, usability engineering and mobile.