What Questions Should You Ask When Considering a 3rd-Party Merchandising Firm?

As brands and retailers settle into business after the pandemic, we’re experiencing a landscape full of new challenges and opportunities. Consumer demographics have shifted, with Gen Z now taking up significant consumer space and shaping trends. Consumers across the board expect a more smoothly integrated and immersive retail experience, and retailers are responding with new models to make the most of these changes.

Retail merchandising execution remains a challenge in this landscape, cited as a major challenge across global merchandising decision-makers and for 18% of respondents, it is their most pressing challenge. A retail merchandising partner can help maximize in-store sales, but how can you make sure your merchandising partner has what it takes to make sure your inventory is placed, set, and priced correctly?

Question 1: How is the firm owned and operated?

Many firms are simply divisions of larger companies that have been acquired and do not operate independently. Is the firm you’re considering privately held?

RMS is a privately held firm, which means we are more flexible and more focused than an acquired division. RMS provides better customer service because our team is more informed and more engaged with the realities of retail merchandising. Our entire team is able to nimbly address client concerns, so no matter who answers your call, you know you’ll find your answer.

Question 2: Who represents the company and how are they trained?

The skills and experience of a company’s field team determines their ability to maximize sales. Is your potential merchandising partner staffed by experienced and knowledgeable personnel?

RMS hires the most skilled and qualified individuals to perform merchandising tasks. We are highly focused on our training, with over 140 Certified Trainers across the country ensuring that all new merchandisers are up to speed. RMS’s award-winning training program provides an edge for effective store execution and reliable data collection.

Question 3: What services beyond merchandising does a firm also offer if any?

Some companies split focus across many strategies including sampling, remodels, and new store openings. Multiple strategies can lead to a scattershot approach lacking effectiveness.

Merchandising is all RMS does. Our focus on maximizing execution is unwavering, and we have developed specific technologies to enhance performance. We use a proprietary platform and mobile application to increase flexibility and provide unparalleled data collection.

Question 4: What access does the field team have to the retailer systems?

A merchandising firm’s ability to access retailer systems and work independently will determine their success. Without access, the merchandiser relies on the retailer’s ability to monitor and move stock. With retailer-only execution rates hovering around 40%, your merchandising firm needs access to inventory in order to improve sales execution.

RMS is BackRoom certified at Target with access to their backroom and inventory devices. This means our field team can independently locate backstock and move it to the sales floor, closing a major gap in the sequence to successful execution.

Question 5: What kind of experience does the corporate office have?

Real-world experience is necessary to understand the issue at retail and the best way to achieve optimal store execution results. It’s important to know where your potential merchandising partner’s corporate office gained their experience.

The RMS leadership team has more than 150 years of manager-level retail experience both at stores and corporate offices. Our seasoned experts also draw from backgrounds in merchandising, operations, and manufacturing. The concrete skills and deep knowledge of our leadership team means we understand retail through and through.

Question 6: Where does the company’s field team spend their time?

If you are looking for help with a particular retailer, it’s essential to take a look at how much time a merchandising company’s field team spends there. How often do they visit, and what does their presence achieve? The more familiar a rep is with a store, the better their ability to complete tasks and the more likely successful execution will be.

Every RMS rep is assigned their own store so that they can familiarize themselves with the operations of a specific store and garner a relationship with the retail team. Our reps collectively spend over 1 million inside our retail partner t stores each year. 

Question 7: Do the client service leaders of the firm have retail experience?

Just like with the corporate office, it is important that client service leaders have retail experience under their belt. Does your potential merchandising partner have a field team with real-world retail experience?

Our client service leaders have all had management-level positions at retail stores. Furthermore, our field team is all required to pass in-store training from RMS-certified trainers upon hiring. This ensures that our team brings practical experience to bear, as well as delivering performance consistent with our standards.

After three years of upset and uncertainty, the opportunities of the “new normal” is coming into focus. Consumers are returning to in-person events, and retailers have a chance to capitalize on the desire for an immersive and holistic shopping experience. Retail execution implementation remains a major concern, reportedly leaving 81% of companies unsatisfied. With the right merchandising partner, there are great gains to be made in this new landscape.

Contact RMS today to see if we’re the right fit for your merchandising needs!