CPG manufacturers and retailers have never had as much data and analytical solutions available as they do now. These offer seemingly endless possibilities to plan the "perfect store," but it can easily become overwhelming, especially when also considering the ever-changing retail landscape and the pace at which shopper and competitor behavior evolves.
Ultimately, when planning how to optimize the retail environment, the goals remain the same: consumer acquisition, driving conversion and retention. In-store execution is crucial for this, and position on shelf, adjacencies, aisle flow and facings all impact conversion. However, accurately quantifying and evaluating these drivers has proved challenging and costly in the past. By using the right data and analytical process we can go from “best-guess” to data-based decisions that drive how retailers plan their shelves and store layouts. Data is the fuel and analytics the engine that will deliver the best performance.
Much has been written about using the "right" data rather than "all" data, and with good reason. We don’t want to get lost in the noise, we want to answer specific questions: Which drivers impact conversion the most and what's the opportunity for growth?
To answer these, we must marry sales data with in-store data and apply modelling techniques to extract meaningful conclusions on how to best cater to shoppers’ needs by offering the right products, in the right locations, and displayed the right way. The developments in image recognition tools have been a game changer in the quantity and quality of the in-store information collected, and allows for much more accurate and granular insights. Having harnessed the most relevant data, best-in-class analytics will then quantify the size of the opportunity more accurately, identify the main drivers, and tailor recommendations by category, product, store type, size, location, etc. In this process, it’s no longer enough to gather insights that are only brand specific; it’s key to also be category centric, as this is the largest and most sustainable source of growth.
This data-based approach to design the "store of the future" creates increased cooperation opportunities for manufacturers and retailers. The more collaborative these partnerships become, the better, to promote collective thinking. MARS, other CPG companies, and independent providers invest heavily in advancing these technologies and work with retailers to continuously develop in-store analytic capabilities. This isn't a one-off collaboration, but rather an iterative process happening multiple times per year to address a store’s key changes, such as changing assortment, planogram design or secondary locations.
The recommendations that result from this process strongly support retailers in making decisions on product assortment, merchandising, marketing and other needs at the point of sale, including next-best action per store. By leveraging these best-in-class insights, retailers and manufacturers can more effectively anticipate shopper needs and drive more traffic into stores. Retailers that take advantage of the detailed level of insights can also create an environment that both delivers scale solutions to apply to stores of any size — from chains to independent retailers — and tailors the actions down to a store and product level to create a more personalized shopping experience. This moves us away from a one-size-fits-all approach and, especially for big retail chains that operate in numerous communities, applying best-in-class insights allows for optimal matches between consumers and the retail environments where they shop.
Ultimately, retailers and manufactures want to improve the quality of consumer acquisition, drive conversion and improve retention. To do so, it’s crucial to offer the optimal shopping experience, whether physical or digital.
So, ask yourself this question: Do I have the right insights to do so? If you don’t, then it’s time to get started.
AiCi Li is director, shopper and retail lab at Mars, Inc., and Elsa Pedro do Souto, senior manager, shopper and retail lab, Mars, Inc.
AiCi is the Director of the Shopper and Retail Lab at Mars, Inc., a group focused on innovation and invention to improve business decisions, actions, and bring simplicity & joy to the art of shopping.
With over 15 years of marketing experience, AiCi is devoted to consumer engagement and new technologies in all parts of business, while looking to build community and apply levity to her team, company, and the marketing industry at large.
Performance and efficiency are at the heart of everything I do. Inherently logical, analytical and numerate, I am a highly skilled problem solver with expertise in using data to solve complex problems, provide answers to business critical questions and support better informed decision making. In addition, I often notice opportunities to improve processes, devising more accurate models, and automating tracking and reporting systems.
In addition to this I have 10+ years of expertise in project financial management where I accurately estimate the financial resources required to deliver profitable contracts, and I ensure those projects stay within acceptable parameters. In my time in the energy sector, the projects I oversaw tended to be large, complex and valued at many millions.
I believe in developing talent and I am as enthusiastic about increasing the skills of my team as I am about my own. In a high-pressure fast-moving commercial environment, that’s what keeps us ahead.