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Measure for measure

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BY Kevin Abraham 10.01.18

Those of us whose business is FMCG know only too well the trials and tribulations of measuring the marketplace. 

It starts out, of course, with preparing that all-important retail execution strategy. The objectives are settled upon, the KPI’s are signed off, and then the instruction comes: “Measure them”.   Easily read, but not quite as easily done! Retail Audits are notoriously tough to manage, not only in the physical gathering of information, but also in processing it, and then making sense of it in order to drive company decision making and planning. I write from experience when I say that it’s no simple task.

Generally speaking, a retail audit requires that a field team enters a carefully sampled series of retail outlets in order to collect intelligence on a variety of related elements: Sales volume and share, pricing, share of shelf, stock levels, effectiveness of in-store display efforts, to mention a few. There could be hundreds or even thousands of outlets, across a broad geography. There’s ample room for major mistakes, and therefore planning and control must be of the highest order. So, it’s pricey, and for many clients, a grudge buy. Yet we all recognize that properly conducted retail audits are able to provide a powerful tool that can make the difference between progress, mediocrity, or even outright decline.

Over time, I’ve reached some conclusions regarding making the Retail Audit purchase decision, and resulting experience, less painful:

  1. Brief well.

Set out your intentions clearly. If possible, let the brief evolve in dialogue with a reliable Retail Audit Specialist before putting it out to tender.

  1. Hire the right Supplier.

I don’t like the concept of adopting an internal team for auditing. Years of experience has persuaded me that bringing in an external auditing supplier is the way to go. Any agency worth its salt will have a wealth of understanding from having repeated the process time and time again. You’ll also benefit from the neutrality that a 3rd party brings, and its years of specialization in managing, processing, and making sense of the material it collects.

  1. Drop what you don’t need, and concentrate on what you absolutely require.

Time and time again I’ve observed, in awe, as clients progress from a simple, practical, cost efficient program to a complicated over the top, costly behemoth, all because they haven’t recognized what is critical vs what is merely nice to have. If you don’t truly need a measure, don’t include it.

  1. Use the results as a decision-making tool, not as a cat o’ nine tails.

Too often, I’ve presented data to a resentful team, who challenge every detail because they felt that it’s going to be used against them later. Where corporate culture recognizes that [within reason], the information is not there to hammer everyone, the immediate result is greater support, and greater eagerness to act on the info, to remedy mistakes and action decisions. 

  1. Find a supplier who is capable of internalizing your strategic direction.

There are very good research houses out there, that provide excellent quality information and reporting. However, I would also want to factor in whether or not they are willing and able to establish a relationship that is concentrated on the process of driving my company’s strategy successfully. It is about moving beyond the role of supplier, and towards a clear interest in the company’s prosperity.  To me, that is a key attribute in any supplier I would consider taking on.

So there you have it.

All the best with your business endeavors in 2018. Be wise with your questions.

Measure for measure

Measure for measure