Questions you should be asking when shopping for a company to merchandise your product at store-level.
1. Is the company customer-centric?
Are they focusing on you, or do they represent other potentially conflicting priorities? Some companies may carry product that may be in conflict with yours and getting shelf space may suffer. You don't want your product to be seen as another widget. You want a partnership with your growth in mind.
2. Are they listeners and solutions providers?
There are companies that supply the same methodology to every job, by rote. And yet, there are times, simply by listening, better solutions are found that may drive better sales.
3. Are they transparent? And accountable?
Uncertainty about whether the work was done should no longer be a challenge as technology affords proof of work. It’s great to have transparency. However, accountability is also important. Some companies work on commissions, and merchandising becomes a cost of doing business, eating into that commission. Cost reduction may be necessary. Potentially, cutting a corner here or there, may be the way they reduce costs. Businesses, where their business is merchandising execution, need to be accountable. After all, the retail industry is sometimes very small, and reputation is of utmost importance. If it was part of the deal, the company you deal with should be able to prove that the work was done, even in the most outlying areas.
4. What is their response time?
If it’s days and days, or worse yet, a week – that is not acceptable. Everyone is busy, but even a “I’m not sure, I’ll get back to you is better than, well, crickets. How are they at getting your product onto that shelf? You want to get to the retail shelf in a timely manner. When your product's sitting on a loading dock, or in a backroom somewhere, it has no chance to sell.
5. How do they handle mistakes? Do they have integrity?
Do what they say they’re going to do? Sure, issues are going to crop up, especially, when there are so many moving pieces. It’s really how those issues are handled that makes all of the difference. Do you have to spend your time tracking down where something is going wrong, or do you call your contact person, and they do the work for you? This is sometimes difficult to uncover prior to engaging a company. Ask your merchandising company this: Give me an example of a time you had something go terribly wrong, and how did you deal with it?
6. Are they harnessing efficiency?
If they’ve given you a cut rate, perhaps, it’s to good to be true. They may be padding hours to get some profit back. What type of training do they provide? Some companies may not train as thoroughly as they should, resulting in wasted time fixing issues. There are companies that are always looking at how to do the work smarter and ensure the best value for their clients.
7. Can they scale up with the job?
And how flexible are they? With retailers that are spanning across multiple states (or provinces) with thousands of stores, scale for some companies can be difficult. It means less employees and more contract workers. That could mean that the quality of work suffers, or the timing doesn’t work right for your in-store product placement. As you grow and increase your footprint, you’re going to want to have someone that can grow with you. If the company isn’t able to accommodate your growth, you’ll have to reach out to more companies, more contacts, more moving parts ~ usually more hassle. Imagine a company that has a field force of thousands, with one contact person to help with your success.
Want to protect your dollar drain? Merchandising can be a competitive advantage to boost your product sales.
At TNG, we’ve got you covered, providing a one stop solution for all your merchandising needs and help you improve sales at retail. We stand ready to help you optimize your bottom line. Contact us for an easy, and always free, assessment of your needs.
Please visit us at www.tng.com