Having a retail merchandising partner is one of the best ways to maximize in-store sales in 2022. In another year of retail uncertainty with rising inflation, increasing consumer uncertainty, and lingering supply chain issues, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to how inventory is moving in and out of your brick-and-mortar retail partners.
Question 1: How can you improve my in-store retail execution rate?
Did you know that retailer execution rates hover around 40%? This is one of the most pressing reasons that suppliers partner with retail merchandising firms. To risk inventory not being on the salesfloor or heavily invested displays not being set, creates a major risk to hitting sales expectations.
Any retail merchandising company you partner with should be able to significantly improve your retail execution rates.
So how do you vet this? Ask the merchandising firm what their average store visit rate is. If a firm is only able to visit 70% of the stores you need them to service, they are not going to be able to greatly improve the overall execution of the tasks stores were not able to complete.
RMS Reference: Prior to COVID, our visit rates average 96% and during COVID and the current labor market strain, we’re proud to maintain an average visit rate in the low 90s. Check out our case studies to learn more! We also report on issues we find and also fix them. We want to make sure our clients get the fastest service possible so their sales stay on track.
Question 2: What level of training and certifications do your field reps have?
Your business depends on your product selling. And your product selling in-store depends on being set, priced, and stocked correctly. With that much at stake, you want to be confident that the field reps of your retail merchandising partner are experts at what they do.
Find out whether a company’s field team can work independently or if they’ll need to work through the retail employees to get tasks completed. This directly impacts both your cost and the time to complete a service.
One way to figure out the level of service you’ll receive from field reps is to understand whether they’re independent contractors or W-2 employees. While there is nothing wrong with either classification, it can be an indication of how much control the merchandising company has over training, scheduling, and reliability.
RMS Reference: The RMS field team are all W-2 employees, are Backroom Certified and are one of a few Target Preferred Service Partners. This means we can go into Target’s backroom, locate inventory and move it to the sales floor. It also enables us to do independent task completion like printing new shelf tags and locating ISM shipments. The benefit is a better-trained field team, with more access, able to complete services more quickly.
Question 3: What’s your field coverage?
It’s important to choose a retail merchandising partner that can service your retail locations. For example, if you sell to Target, does the firm you are working with hire at least one field rep for every Target store? Having the consistency of one merchandiser serving the same store every week is crucial for data consistency and quality control.
RMS Reference: We hire reps for 100% of Target stores and assign reps to a specific home store. These reps are in their home store at least once each week.
Question 4: Is merchandising your specialty and what’s your company’s experience in it?
Beyond field reps and field coverage, you want to vet the company as a whole, in particular, you need to understand if merchandising is their specialty and what their experience in it is.
Some agencies that offer retail merchandising offer other services as well. While this is fine and may be a great fit for some brands, it may impact the level of service you receive so it’s worth understanding what their focus is and if they can go as in-depth on your in-store needs as you desire.
RMS Reference: We focus exclusively on retail merchandising and are proud to be Gold Certified for retail service management standards by the World Alliance for retail excellence and standards. RMS screens and hires, and trains solely to meet merchandising excellence. Even the teams at our corporate office are primarily former manager level and above from Target stores.
Question 5: What level of customer service can I expect?
Finally, be sure to understand what level of customer service you can expect from your merchandising partner at all levels. Check to see what type of contact you’ll have. For example, will you have an assigned person who will handle every aspect of your account? Or will it be a “waiting for the next available rep” type situation when you call?
RMS Reference: Not only are our field reps experts but our clients are assigned their own account team with one point of contact. Even our corporate leadership team knows every one of our clients so no matter who picks up the phone, they’ll be able to help you without you having to repeat your whole story to them.
Whoever your partner with for retail merchandising, be sure to vet them against your business goals. They should be able to thoroughly and professionally meet your in-store inventory needs.
See if we’re the right fit for your merchandising needs and contact us today!