Battle on the grocery shelf intensifies, new technology reduces store data time lag

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 16th December 2008

As the credit crunch hits the hip pocket of Australian consumers brand loyalty is being tested.

Current research suggests that consumers are already turning to private label in some categories in order to save money. Combine this with the diminishing control consumer products companies have over shelf real-estate and the importance of accurate in-store execution intensifies.

In spite of the economic forecast, many companies are reportedly continuing to invest in proactive in-store promotional activity to fight it out at the shelf and, as the battle of the brands heats up, retail execution becomes even more pivotal.

Traditionally, paper-based sales teams have collected data and prepared reports out in the field, but new technology has shown this up as a slow and potentially inaccurate process.

Among the new options is technology that speeds up communication between reps and strategic planners, reducing costly time lag. Simplot Australia, one of the ten largest food companies operating in Australia, has recently deployed one such mobile solution from O4 Corporation. The system allows for the head office to receive store data in minutes, enabling daily analysis of in-store promotions and guiding strategic decisions.

“Now, more than ever, perfect execution in-store is critical. With this system our retail field team have the tools to make near real time decisions,” Nigel Drews, Simplot’s National Sales Manager – Retail Operations, noted.

“Accurate data about our promotion compliance, product distribution, stock levels, and what our competitors are doing, is a key component to maintaining our position in the market,” Mr Drews added. “There’s no point finding out two weeks after a promo that product wasn’t on the shelf day one.”

In addition to providing immediate information, an automated retail execution system allows sales reps to significantly reduce time on paperwork and focus on building relationships and value-based selling.

O4 Corporation’s Desmond Miller, CEO, believes that consumer products companies can win the battle at the shelf and retain sales volumes by optimising product distribution, ensuring promotions are in place and seizing competitive advantage. “In the current climate companies can’t afford to have out of stocks or rely on past consumer loyalty. They must maximise every opportunity when shoppers are in-store,” he concluded.

A whitepaper released by O4 Corporation titled: ‘Finding Wealth in the Field’ ( identifies retail execution as a key component in protecting brand performance and accelerating the velocity of information flow between the field and head office.