One Untapped Tactic to Score Retail Shelf Space

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Aug 18 2016, Posted by Lisa Cramer

Okay, so you’ve got a fantastic product that’s doing pretty well, but now it’s time to break into or claim more shelf space in brick-and-mortar stores, where droves of people still shop—over 91% to be exact (U.S. Census Bureau).

But, how can you get into the retail channels you want/need if you aren’t a well-known brand yet? Or, if you are a well-known brand, how can you continue to expand, especially if the product or program you’re trying to sell-in has yet to be proven? Many retailers have a depth of customer loyalty data and are starting to make decisions based more on data than on long-standing relationships or gut feelings. So, how will you “convince” the retailer to give you a shot?

What Brands Can Offer Retailers

Of course, for the purpose of this article, I’m going to oversimplify matters, but hopefully, if you are a retail manufacturer/brand you’ll leave with an understanding of a new way to approach retailers that can differentiate you and help win that coveted shelf space.

While conversations between retailer and manufacturer/brand typically don’t vary much from one retailer to the next—mostly consisting of negotiations on everything from the space i.e. an end-cap for 6 months in 1,000 stores, other program costs including advertising, and more—a manufacturer/brand can bring something different to the table that could differentiate the brand and change their conversations and relationships with retailers all together. How? By offering a retailer compelling in-store insights that they don’t have.

Brands/manufacturers can now offer store-specific insights and detailed path to purchase insights to complement loyalty data, elevating the conversation from a tactical to strategic partnership. Some insights that could be offered to retailers include information about:

  • Category/end-cap/merchandising performance (how many shoppers pass by, how many look, how many stop, how many engage)
  • Marketing campaign success (what messages work, i.e., attracts shoppers and/or has stopping power)
  • Shopper behavior trends & sales optimization opportunities (for example, category day/time metrics to help with day-parting merchandising strategies or category shopper demographics to help with localizing the experience for the right shopper profiles per geographic area or per specific store)

So all in all, you could provide the retailer with specific visitor numbers to your category or brand per day, per store, per hour of the day, the number walking by your brand’s end-cap. You could also share things like how many of those visitors dwelled in that area, how long they viewed the end-cap, did they engage, and if so, with what content and does that correlate with sales data? Additionally, you could also look at comparing and/or clustering retailers and stores. For instance, clustering data from other stores targeting a similar demographic and/or a geographic view. Moreover, data can also be coupled with detailed path to purchase insights highlighting the motivations, influencers and behaviors of a very defined shopper segment.

And, what let’s talk more about promotions and campaigns? What if as a manufacturer, you could micro-target in-store shoppers with relevant content and measure their success? What if you could say with some certainty to a retailer these 3 things:

  • This is how this promotion will perform in your stores (could be segmented by store type/store location).
  • Here’s the margin impact it will have on the highest priority shopper segments.
  • Here’s how to optimize promotions/programs for specific store locations based on demographics and time/day.

Putting a Plan Together

Accumulating this level of specific data, per retailer, doesn’t have to be expensive. New lower cost tools such as in-store video analytics and mobile research gives manufacturers new avenues to accumulate valuable, rich data at significantly lower costs. This not only provides a strategic selling opportunity into targeted retailers, but also provides manufacturers with a more robust opportunity to maximize their ROI in-store.

However, it’s important to note that having insights is one thing… putting it together into a plan that’s compelling to a retailer is something else. Retailers have less confidence in manufacturers that take national programs and simply tweak the message/branding for the retailer. Instead manufacturers should be able to create compelling, segmented programs based on the retailer’s shopper segment (including demographics and behavior). These plans should include all facets that touch that shopper with insights to support the strategies, including increased basket size, better conversion, and more trips to the store. We’ve helped many brands put together these kinds of programs and proposals with a huge retailer acceptance rate.

For both you and your retailers, optimizing shopper conversion is the objective. If manufacturers can become more of a strategic partner to retailers and provide plans to drive this conversion, then this becomes a compelling proposition and partnership. Smart, forward-looking manufacturers are already moving in this direction, seeing the challenge for limited shelf space mounting between upstart brands and private labeling. How will you claim your retailer spots?

Image Copyright: zhudifeng / iStock

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