Innovative automation tools for merchandiser provide better controls, simplify everyday tasks
By Andrew Dawson, Commercial Director at MACmobile
Merchandisers are tasked with ensuring the brands they represent are displayed correctly and that stock is constantly available on shelf at all times as per the defined planogram. Traditionally measuring this task has involved a lot of paperwork and manual processes, which are not only inefficient, they are also prone to human error. Moreover, there is little control from a brand perspective over whether merchandisers are executing their tasks effectively. Innovative and intelligent mobile automation solutions can help to solve these and other challenges, increasing efficiency and control, benefiting both merchandisers and the brands they represent.
Manual processes are inherently problematic
Merchandisers will typically represent a specific product category at a certain store and will have a set flow that they follow based on the brand priority of their organisation. This includes checking aisles to make sure that shelves have stock, replenishing stock should it be running low, confirming that pricing is correct and that promotions are deployed and so on.
The challenge for merchandisers is that, historically, these tasks have been manual and are therefore prone to human error, and there was no way of providing real-time feedback to ensure these errors are corrected. Each process is also time-consuming and laborious, reducing efficiency.
Mobility and automation are the answer
Innovative new mobile technology solves numerous challenges for brand owners and merchandisers alike. Intelligent software replaces time and attendance tools, using geotagging to confirm location and time-stamping automatically. Biometrics such as facial and voice recognition can also be used to verify that the right merchandiser is in the right location at the right time. Using Bluetooth sensors and beacons, the path of the merchandiser through the store can easily be tracked, ensuring they follow the planned route and alerting them to any deviations.
The merchandiser can also be empowered with image recognition tools that can provide an instant reading of shelves and alert to any issues that need to be attended to. This includes stock levels, stock placement, pricing, promotions and optimisation, among others. Not only does this simplify one of the most onerous merchandiser tasks, it also ensures adherence to requirements for the brand. A single photograph can replace up to 20 minutes of paperwork and execution time, and image recognition is an immutable and failsafe way to ensure perfect execution and verification of SLAs.
Automation tools vastly improve productivity by simplifying tasks and minimising the window for error. Any deviations are recorded and can be simultaneously sent via SMS and e-mail to the merchandising manager and the store owner to make them aware of potential issues on the ground. This real-time deviation alerting ensures a response can be generated, and issues solved before they affect sales.
Perfect execution equals maximum profits
With the economy in a prolonged downturn, brand owners are in an economic battle and the amount of product on shelf is of great importance. Merchandisers are a critical element in ensuring product sets are 100% correctly executed according to the look and feel (ie, “the perfect store”) that has been scientifically selected to generate maximum profit. Mobile automation tools help to guarantee the proficiency and accuracy of merchandisers while improving productivity and simplifying day-to-day tasks.