Microsoft’s mission has always been to enable people and companies all over the world to realize their full potential. On a local level, the company relies on sales offices and technological development and support centres in addition to a multi-channel distribution network.
Today we would like to share some thoughts from Veronica Todaro, Project Manager in the Field Marketing division of Pardgroup.
How often in our professional lives have we found ourselves having to implement category management projects? And how often have they proved to be truly successful operations?
As we know, category management is a sophisticated retail marketing concept shared by industry and trade alike, aimed at ensuring an offer that matches market expectations and consequently improves sales results. It simplifies purchaser decision-making processes by giving clarity and enhancing the options available at the point of sale, where they are assessed by the final consumer. On paper it looks like a structured, linear process with a bright outlook. But what are the main issues that arise with this approach when we talk about the point of sale?
The first thing that comes to mind is space. Space is the overarching variable that affects every operating choice at the point of sale: an ever-present obsession shared by all operators in the trade universe – except of course for those who live online.
Space is located, assembled and disassembled, bought and enhanced. It is extremely flexible, more than many companies often think. Whenever a fee is paid for an area we don’t always find the implementation of the concept that was worked out at the head office. This misalignment can be the result of many factors: maybe the display surface area is smaller than expected, the department manager prefers to display merchandise other than the goods specified, or there is little enthusiasm for putting displays where they might obstruct walk areas. Store directors are becoming increasingly autonomous in their decision-making and this can sometimes also hinder implementation. Let’s recap some of the most common management errors: failure to map dedicated spaces inside the point of sale; accounts do not always have a good knowledge of the dynamics of ongoing activities and of the scale of clustering and store layout plans; sometimes the point of sale hears about a flyer launch with a very short notice and fails to react promptly enough for the complete and proper implementation of all aspects of the promotion. Or, alternatively, companies themselves may define a space based on their own notions of category management, which may not always tally with the actual needs of the point of sale. Here’s an example: It may happen that a badly performing category is given shelf space that’s overestimated in comparison to actual rotations. Or maybe there is a lack of input about assortment updates, so that new planograms are not handled and transferred quickly enough. With the arrival of new merchandise at the point of sale, the temptation to immediately get the new products on the shelves may compromise the planogram arrangement.
In general, what’s missing is a solid basis for good working relations between the partners involved and, in particular, between commercial and industrial enterprises.
As we have said, sub-par communications often lead to undesirable practical consequences: poorly selected product assortment with regard to reference target and margin potential, incomplete implementation of planograms approved by headquarters, or points of sale with insufficient information on promotions. It often happens that points of sale don’t match product prices with those set by promotional operations or don’t accept the POP positioning of material – itself backed by significant trade marketing investments – or don’t fully take advantage from new launches and accessories accompanying the products.
On the shelves we can often find items that have not generated value for consumers and therefore divert space and resources away from product innovation. So why not get the
There was a new experience for the Pardgroup‘s Field Marketing team recently. The role played by shops has been undermined by the advent of e-commerce, but paradoxically in the Retail world there has never been so much talk about stores and how to design them. They have been completely transformed into something new and different. Shops today play a key role in communication. This has a big impact on the appearance of each store, as well as what it needs to offer in terms of the customer experience and the behaviour of consumers inside it.
In a constantly evolving market, Pardgroup’s Field Marketing department deemed it opportune to “take a break” from their normal activities and set aside a few hours for a brainstorming session about the form that stores will take a few years from now and the consumer needs that will have to be satisfied.
The varied nature of the team provided the starting point for the discussion and helped to make it extremely fruitful: each member has gained and built up experiences in different fields and companies that now complement each other and have become a real strength for Pardgroup.
It is too early to divulge and reveal everything that came out during the session. Nonetheless, we can tell you that one of the main focuses was the part that technology has played in changing stores.
After all, the Retail revolution must place an ever greater emphasis on consumers by expanding their in-store experiences and stimulating new buying needs that enable Brands to stand out on the market.
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According to the World Health Organization, child obesity rates are on the rise, and just one in three children engages in sports on a daily basis. A recent survey by Fitbit, global leader in the field of wearable devices, shows that a majority of parents believes their children are less active than they themselves were at the same age. Respondents say they worry about their children’s weight, the types of food they eat and the low levels of physical activity, as well as the growing rates of child obesity. Parents are therefore looking for ways of encouraging their children to adopt a healthier and more active lifestyle, and 75% said they are interested in the use of activity trackers to help them stay healthy. This kind of wellness-oriented approach has already been embraced in several countries, where sport is actively promoted at schools.
And now, thanks to funding from a European Union programme, the Liceo scientifico-sportivo Respighi (a sports and science high school in Piacenza) has a state-of-the-art fitness and wellness area inside the school building. Outfitted with cutting-edge equipment, the new gym has everything needed to offer a healthy dose of fun together with continually monitored physical activity.
The initiative was sponsored by Fitbit, which provided Fitbit Charge2 devices for all students enrolled in the sports programme as well as their teachers. The school’s principal has already shown interest in extending this pilot project to the rest of the student body. Liceo Respighi is the first school in Italy to have activated this pilot project.
Pardgroup actively contributed to the programme through its Fitbit Brand Ambassadors, who provided training for students and teachers to obtain the best performance from the trackers.
Fitbit has also recently launched its new Ace model, the first bracelet for children conceived specifically to foster healthy habits and to make fitness fun for the entire family. Fitbit Ace helps kids stay active, thanks to its monitoring of daily physical activity and of sleep, as well as through exciting games among friends. The device also features a parental control option to safeguard the children’s privacy.
Pardgroup’s Field Marketing Services department boasts a vast network of experts who are spread throughout Italy. 10 Project Managers coordinate more than 120 people.
Depending on their individual needs, customers can ask for a range of services, including: space mapping, store clustering, stock optimization, rack jobbing, visual merchandising, in-store price checking, drawing up planograms and display criteria, automatic replenishment, fitting, maintenance, and one-to-one or group sales staff training.
Pardgroup can also provide Data Management and Dashboard Analysis services. Thanks to the know-how and constant cooperation between the Project Managers and the developers from the Business intelligence department, in recent years the Field Marketing Services department has produced innovative Data Visualization platforms for all types of customers and target channels. The efforts of the Data Analyst team allow Pardgroup to aggregate data and provide customers with the associated reports, using customized dashboards. Pardgroup thus acts as a genuine Data Company for some brands, with a database of all distributors and vendors containing sell-in, sell-out and KPI information.
All year long, there are no fewer than 160 projects underway every month. In addition, more than 1,000 stores are monitored throughout Italy every month and over 2,300 monthly visits are made, amounting to more than 18,000 working hours.
The following professional figures play a part in the Pardgroup’s Field Marketing Services department:
– Agency Account Manager: the single point of contact for all customer brand development projects in terms of visibility and presence in different markets.
– Project Manager: a figure who manages different projects and/or members of field staff, taking a strategic approach to the market.
– Data Analyst: someone who aggregates data and sets up customized dashboards.
– Brand Ambassador: a dedicated mono-brand figure who works on special in-store projects as an ambassador for the brand in question.
– Visual Merchandiser: an expert who oversees the in-store Brand Image and takes charge of the communication space for the products in question.
– Merchandiser: a dedicated or multi-brand figure who is responsible for in-store POP positioning, rack jobbing and mapping.
– Trainer: a figure who is directly responsible for brand development and in-depth knowledge of products.
A crucial part in all of the management and handling of POP materials needed for in-store campaigns is played by close cooperation with Pardgroup’s Logistics Department.
Pardgroup’s Field Marketing Services department works with both vendors and the biggest names in specialist retail. Its top customers include: Microsoft, Fitbit, Bose, SanDisk, Meliconi, Nokia, Motorola, Nespresso, Mediaworld and Unieuro.
Since 2017, the Field Marketing Services department has broadened its horizons and expanded into new markets alongside Consumer Electronics, including Toys, Sportswear and Smart Homes.
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In order to develop an increasingly dynamic approach during the in-store purchasing phase and to render the customer experience unique and exciting, the more innovative Brands are relying on omnichannel Retail strategies, with many of them setting up interactive display windows that feature new technologies like augmented reality (AR).
This technology enriches the shopping experience using on-line functionalities in support of the off-line purchase. Thanks to augmented reality, it is now possible to enhance real-world contexts with virtual contents, by superimposing images and video to the consumer’s field of view. This technology shows considerable potential in sectors like Fashion, Luxury and Retail, where the goal is to bring a degree of interactivity to traditional stores and to make the customer experience as unique as possible.
A good example of an in-store application of AR is the growing trend of virtual fitting rooms, which let the consumer get a 360° look at the chosen garment, imagine it in different colours, and much more. This type of immersive experience allows customers to virtually try on items of clothing and jewellery, or even experiment with different types of make-up, creating an interactive and exciting shopping experience. And what if you want to catch a fashion show… from the first row? Thanks to this technology, one can be catapulted just a few feet from the runway and even take a selfie. Possibilities are endless, and not necessarily limited to in-store applications. Augmented reality can also be very useful in catching the attention of passers-by outside of retail locations, turning them into potential customers by enticing them and prompting them to enter the store.
Also read the article ‘How to create a successful omnichannel Retail strategy’
Want to find out more? Contact the professionals of the Pardgroup Team
During jury discussions at the Premio tecnico della Pubblicità Mediastars (Mediastars Technical Advertising Awards), much of the talk revolved around the various aspects of digital technologies in the retail sector. More and more retailers find that they need to develop a dynamic approach to the consumer, which includes real-time monitoring of changes in buying behaviour as well as of customer responses to in-store initiatives.
Going beyond the well-established Multi-Channel approach, in which the sales and marketing effort is organised across various channels (physical store, e-commerce, TV, radio, Social Media, Events, Email Marketing, Newsletters, etc.), the next challenge in Retail is developing a so-called Omnichannel Retail Strategy, which involves an interconnection between the available channels, so that each one complements the others. In practical terms, this entails integrating traditional off-line retail locations with on-line channels, thus building a competitive marketing strategy that can accompany the customer every step of the way to the final purchase of a product or service, providing a unique customer experience.
So how is a successful omnichannel Retail strategy created?
Let’s start from the basics. Not all Italian companies are ready to take on this type of integration. Entrepreneurs need to possess a forward-looking mindset, and specific skill-sets are required both in managing the digital aspects and in coordinating the teams at work on the various channels.
In order to imagine a unique customer experience, it is essential to integrate e-commerce and web-based services in physical stores and vice versa, through the creation of points of contact between Brand and Customer: the so-called touchpoints (physical, digital, managed or spontaneous). Some examples are: In-store pick-up, on-line previewing of stock available in-store, demand management systems, inventory and distribution planning, ERP and product tracking systems, customer care and dedicated Apps, RFId/QR and augmented reality for in-store access to digital contents.
An adequate on-line presence must then be developed in support of the above. As web giants like eBay, Amazon or Alibaba get more and more popular, consumershave come to expect a user experience of increasingly high quality.
On the one hand, therefore, it’s becoming crucial to invest in web sites with strong usability and cloud technologies that ensure a unique customer experience on any device. On the other hand, it is imperative to be connected 24/7 with social media users. It is necessary to consistently offer quality content that has the ability to excite, inform and in some cases educate its followers, in order to reach – and maintain – a valuable engagement, prompting interaction and conversation according to well-defined brand identities and business goals.
Are you curious about the recent trends in this area? Read the article on the results of a study by the Observatory on Digital innovation and Retail of Milan’s Polytechnic University ‘The store of the future: digital innovation and Retail, a workable partnership?’
Do you want to study an omnichannel strategy for your store? Contact Pardgroup Team
Fitbit is an American company that is famous all over the world for its wearable, wireless activity trackers.
In 2007, the founders James Park and Eric Friedman realized that sensors and wireless technology had become sufficiently sophisticated to offer the potential for exceptional fitness and health experiences. This led to the development of a series of wearable products – the first of which was the Fitbit Tracker – that have revolutionized people’s outlook on exercise.
Slowly but steadily, digital innovations in the Italian Retail sector are on the rise. That much emerges from a study by the Observatory on Digital Innovation in Retail of Milan’s Polytechnic University, which analyses the main digital innovations capable of reshaping retail processes, and aims to gather and disseminate knowledge. The study surveyed 300 of the top retailers by sales volume with physical locations in Italy, as well as 200 small-to-medium operations. Results show that only 42% consider innovation a key factor in achieving success, and investments in digital technologies do not currently exceed 1% of the turnover.
Nevertheless, it is precisely among these businesses that innovations supporting the in-store customer experience are born: 91% of top retailers (compared to 80% just one year ago) introduced at least one front-end digital innovation in support of the in-store customer experience such as kiosks, touch points and innovative payment systems, followed by those at the back end which mostly involve CRM solutions, in-store customer monitoring systems, systems supporting demand, inventory and distribution planning, customer care and dedicated Apps, RFId/QR and augmented reality to access digital contents in-store, ERP and systems for tracking products within warehouses or along the supply chain.
In sum, digital innovations should be used by retailers to improve both consumer relations (front end) and their own internal processes (back end), making them at once more efficient and more effective.
The major challenge for the store of the future, therefore, will be managing to offer an effective and satisfying customer experience through omni-channel integration between physical locations and digital initiatives (57%), the introduction of new retail services (23%), the development of digital innovations (13%) and the creation and launch of new store formats (7%).
Pardgroup‘s department of business intelligence can develop customised IT solutions based on your specific needs. Read the article
Pardgroup can also support you with geolocation and product tracking, in-store merchandisers and promoters. Read the article ‘Geolocating personnel working on in-store promotion campaigns’
Do you agree with us on the importance of digital innovation in Retail? Do you want to build an omnichannel strategy for your store? Contact the professionals of the Pardgroup Team
Managing stores throughout Europe and the promoters working inside them is a complex process. It has always been one of the biggest and most common concerns during in-store promotion campaigns.
To provide a helping hand, the Pardgroup Business Intelligence department has developed a web App that allows all of the personnel working on promotion campaigns to be geolocated.
Thanks to the geolocation App, both clients and Pardgroup’s Project Managers can monitor the presence of promoters in real time. It is a ground-breaking development for agencies that provide Promoters & Events services. It offers huge, crucial benefits because it provides proof of the work done for client Brands.
The App is extremely simple to use. It works on all Android smartphones, so it can be installed in advance on all of the devices given to promoters. Once the promoters have given their authorization for the use of the App and carried out the initial registration and log-in process, the app will run automatically in the background. After that, the promoters will no longer have to do anything except turn their phones on.
Once the App is activated, it automatically geolocates personnel and stores the data. In the event of stays that last for longer than the established average, the system sends alerts so that the situation can be assessed and any problems can be handled.
Constant data provision enables live certification of locations, which is essential for real-time coordination of a very large number of people and prompt management of any issues, both during the week and at the weekend.
It goes without saying that personnel are only tracked during their working hours. The system turns itself on a few minutes before the start of a shift and turns itself off at the end.
he geolocation App developed and honed by Pardgroup provides crucial support for in-store promotion activities and our Promoters & Events department is proud to offer it as a complementary part of its service range.
It is a great example of the synergy between Pardgroup’s Business Intelligence and Promoters & Events departments.
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