Part Two: Win at the Shelf (Improving on OSA)

One Dan Alaimo said, “Having the right product on the shelf at the right time for the right shopper is the holy grail for retailers and manufacturers. But in a world of complex supply chains, on-shelf availability remains a challenge for trading partners.(“P&G increases OSA using store level-data,” CPG matters, July 2012)

On last week’s article, I talked of some causes of poor On Shelf-Availability.

On this article, we will be addressing solutions to some OSA issues as well as beneficial features to look out for when deploying a system to track on shelf availability and merchandizing in general.

The first thing that is important and needs to be understood is, tackling OSA problems is a joint effort between manufacturers and retailers. This is why a collaborative approach on improving performance is more practical.

From Part 1, you may think that increasing staff on ground to monitor or having good inventory levels shuts this case but really, different availability problems require different solutions.

Deploy a modern inventory system

To avoid discrepancies that come with manually keeping records, I would advise on deploying a modern system that will make things less time consuming. The accuracy in real-time updating reduces room for error and gives you a prediction of consumer behavior based on movement of stock.

Forecasting demand

Forecasting projections is one of the toughest things to get right. Trends change from time to time and you can never be sure of what is moving. However this process is all about anticipating. Religiously keeping a record of sales data gives you an advantage of analyzing historical sales data and consumer reach which can be used to ensure there is enough product to meet demand.

Stock count and replenish plan

After identifying out-of-stock patterns, create a clear plan to cater for these moments when they do happen. The most important thing however is knowing customer demand and knowing what to have. Being aware of customer demand enables you to not run out of stock and keeps you from having excess supply too. Take note of these trends and stock up accordingly with a well thought out and data-driven plan.

People culture

Without the right employees in place, even the most efficient tools and best structure in place will not work. A good example, you may have sufficient stock but if your employee is not keen on replenishing, an assumption will be made by the customer that the item is out of stock. Train your staff to be disciplined. Offer incentives on job well done, motivation goes a long way. Train them to be able to use systems in place. Go further and empower them with the ability to grasp simple data and use insight to take required action.

Last but certainly not least

TECHNOLOGY

Over the years, technology has been the greatest force in impacting how manufacturers and retailers handle processes. From point of sales to order management systems, technology has indeed made things efficient.

When it come to on shelf availability, gone are the days of traditional approach. Instead of manufacturers advising retailers how to handle what goes on the shelf, it has become a more collaborative approach. Data is shared to to make sure decisions made favor both parties but most importantly, the customer.

If you have chosen to go the technological way, kudos! It only gets better from here.

If you are looking to join the club:

Invest in a good mobility app.

Embracing mobile technologies sparks productivity and adds value. Though it may seem like such a complex thing to adapt, you would be surprised at how easy it is grasp once the ball is rolling. Not to forget, the immense value that comes with it.

Valuable features to look out for in such an app are:

  1. Photo capturing – Snaps of products on the shelf gives real-time status of the shelf conditions. Such images help in notifying accounts responsible and quickly acting on issues if there are any.
  2. Stock taking – Takes stock of products helping you make recommendations for replenishment. This ensures there are no stock outs and keeps you from never running low on best-selling items making you optimize shelf space.
  3. Order taking – Quickly and easily enables you to place orders of items that may have run out or are more prone to sell.
  4. Data collection – Captures information about new product introductions and customer satisfaction through surveys.
  5. Offline capabilities – Even with loss of connectivity, be able to synchronize data once back online.
  6. Inventory management – Clear overview of what is available in storage helping with placing orders and planning.
  7. Communication – Converse internally and communicate on assigning of actions.

You will find that people who have the above features( and even more) in their mobility app are able to work efficiently and stand out. Investing in an all-rounded tool will make you win at the shelf. Availability will never be a problem.

Catch you next week!

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