Every year, CPG companies incorporate various sales and merchandising strategies into their agendas to provide shoppers with the best store experience, stand out in the competition, and increase their sales. When implementing these strategies, however, the scene they encounter may be surprising at the end of the day. Despite massive investments, the unexpected drop can occur in store-level sales figures for various reasons, which we will focus on the auditing part in today’s blog post.

Coping with the Manual Operations

Today, the data collection methods, often used while auditing the store, are carried out manually, without complying with the requirements of the era, and far from being digital. Observational data collected by this method poses many problems. Before we get into the issues, let's have a closer look at the manual data collection!

The most common use of manual data collection is for auditing purposes for CPG companies to get valuable information from the selling floor through 3rd party auditors. Conventional auditing is usually paper-based or utilizes digital questionnaires. Data accuracy creates a question mark in a control that is human dependent; besides, there is an excellent waste of time. The waste is not only due to the time spent in the store but also because the reporting of such information takes lots of time when it reaches the back-office supervisors. Considering the limitations of the methodology, the coverage also falls short as the auditing cannot achieve full coverage.

Another common approach for gathering data from the field or tracking the performance is to ask sales representatives or merchandisers to collect and report the information manually. Field sales teams are described as the key growth drivers for CPG companies while also being an essential and costly resource. For this reason, the allocation of these valuable resource should be adjusted in the most optimized way to obtain the maximum benefit from the time they spend in the store, and the accuracy level of the data they collect manually should be almost perfect. For the data received from all stores to be at the desired level of accuracy and to ultimately leverage sales, many sales personnel need to be in the field and continuously feed their companies with manual checks. Nowadays, we cannot say that this is quite possible.

Digital & Self-Auditing is the New Game!

When we consider the growing retail market, we see that business processes are growing at the same rate. With the increased coverage, the expansion of sales channels, and the application of omnichannel strategies, the audit must also be digitized. For this reason, performing store audits in the most optimized way is the number one rule for customers to have the best possible experience in stores, and an effective way to drive retail execution to perfection for both CPG suppliers and retailers.

According to one of the most important findings of the Forbes Insights/KPMG report “Audit 2025” is that four in five respondents—80%—say auditors should use bigger samples and more sophisticated technologies for gathering data and performing analysis in their daily work. 

Image recognition technologies powered by machine learning are the complete lifesaver for CPG companies!

The store self-audit is a cost-efficient and sustainable way for companies to extend their store audit coverage and increase their capabilities to attain corporate objectives. Unlike priceless time that is spent in dozens of paper-works and in stores, it is possible to work more efficiently in less time by investing in technology. Picture taking, digital shelf checks, and measurements, followed by digital reporting benefits both the sales team and the CPG companies in many areas:

  • The time that field teams spend in the stores will decrease, and they will be directed to activities that will serve better customer engagement while allocating their time more accurately.
  • They will be able to check more stores in their remaining time, increase their store coverage, and increase the time reserved for critical stores.
  • Wider coverage contributes to improved availability of helpful data for use by management and monitoring of the operational processes.
  • A great increase in the accuracy level of the collected data will be observed with an audit process without manual operations.
  • Reports issued after the audit will be stored entirely in digital environments. No more paper-work!

How Can Vispera Help You?

At Vispera, we provide CPG suppliers and retailers with advanced technologies regarding machine learning, helping them to get ahead of the race, in not one, but several areas!

Over-the-counter trade in the pharmacy channel is growing considerably, which results in an increasing competition for store space in the pharmacy between suppliers. As a result, companies active in the pharmacy channel are looking for ways to improve retail execution to gain a competitive edge. Reckitt Benckiser, who wants to be at the top of this race, started to look for ways to improve its retail execution to integrate an effective solution for tracking its Vision Pharmacy Program, which provides the best customer experience of product availability and visibility.

In the past, it was a burden for Reckitt Benckiser's field team to gather data and report manually, and they were not able to feel confident about the declared results. Simultaneously, the firm encountered too many human errors and valuable time wasted while executing manual auditing and POSM tracking.

Thanks to their business partnership with Vispera, Reckitt Benckiser doubled the number of vision pharmacies! Field teams using Vispera Storesense capture images from the field. The images obtained are transferred to the cloud, processed in the Vispera engine, and converted into meaningful on-the-spot data. Then, customized and highly detailed reports are presented to the management on an almost daily basis.

In this way, Reckitt Benckiser increased its portion of the perfect stores by 157%, and with this method change, the reporting time decreased significantly. With this time saved, teams could be directed to value-added tasks!

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"Following the meeting with the Vispera team, we were convinced that we would be able to effectively track our Vision Pharmacy program using Vispera’s Storesense solution. Low reliability of previous claim-based data makes us forget tracking the time before the Vispera partnership. We marked May 2019 as the birthday of Vision Pharmacy tracking in our company’s history." says Efekan Güven, the Trade Marketing Manager of Reckitt Benckiser.

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