Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Mobile Merchandising Software is Key to Consolidating Retail Data

Consolidating retail data coming from store audits used to be a time- and labor-intensive process: Many merchandisers auditing several stores generate a considerable amount of paperwork, and transcribing this information into quantifiable data can overwhelm analytics personnel as well as leave a lot of space for human error.

Mobile merchandising software turns the rep's smartphones and tablets into data-collecting devices just by installing an app while also allowing office-based supervisors and managers to customize the forms and checklists the reps will be answering. Moreover, all data collected is automatically stored in the cloud and quantified, leading to up-to-the-minute reports. 

This is why mobile merchandising software is the key to consolidating data.

However, beyond being a game-changing technology when it comes to data collection and consolidation, mobile merchandising software also has many other features, such as:

Real-time map view of field rep activity
GPS tracking of field reps and retail auditors, enabling the monitoring of in-store activities by marketing and merchandising managers and the verification of user location at the time of each activity.

A complete platform for managing retail audits
Including full form customization with photos and signatures and visit scheduling, planning, and routing.

Management of store distribution lists 
Allowing for customized forms according to the products available at each store.

Spreadsheet and analytics reports
Customizable reporting on activities, locations, and users.

VisitBasis is a complete mobile merchandising software solution that allows businesses of all sizes to quickly and easily implement a cost-efficient in-store data collection system with no need for technical knowledge.

Learn more about how VisitBasis can work for you: Schedule an online demo or sign up for a free trial.



Friday, July 3, 2020

3 Reasons for Implementing Cloud-Based Field Force Merchandising Software

Retail-focused companies, such as CPG manufacturers and sales and marketing agencies, face a real dilemma on whether to implement field force merchandising software. While there are some clear material benefits brought by the technology - such as the virtual elimination of paper forms - the costs can escalate for larger teams.

Cloud-based field force merchandising software, however, brings in other reasons beyond the straightforward material and monetary aspects of why it should be implemented. Here are some of them:

GPS verification of visits
One of the most serious challenges field force supervisors face is fraudulent visits. Not only because of staff non-compliance issues but also because it will likely skew merchandising audit results, possibly leading to flopped strategies. Field force merchandising software, through GPS verification of visits, will, therefore, increase rep compliance as well as audit accuracy.

Agility in correcting or refocusing strategies
Issues with traditional pen-and-paper retail audits include the lag time between data capture at the store and running reports at the office, as well as the time it takes to correct and deploy new forms. This means that many issues get overlooked and whatever strategy is implemented has to be carried out for a while, even if it needs adjustments. Field force merchandising software allows not only for faster detection of issues with up-to-the-minute reporting but also for tweaking forms as a project or campaign progresses.

Reduced out-of-stocks and other in-store issues
Finally, field force merchandising software makes it easier to have more frequent store visits and, with them, better supervision of brands and categories at stores.

VisitBasis is a field force merchandising software that transforms the rep's mobile devices into retail data capture tools. Would you like to see how your business can benefit from implementing VisitBasis? Sign up today for a free trial at www.visitbasis.com.


Friday, June 5, 2020

3 Things You Need to Know About Image Recognition for Retail

Artificial intelligence has been getting a lot of attention these days but, for many industries, it is not yet clear what its practical applications are or what the benefits will be.

Image recognition for retail is one of the more straightforward commercial applications of artificial intelligence. However, it seems to be out of reach for most businesses since, while CPG conglomerates and large retailer chains dominate the market, many retail-focused businesses are smaller local distributors, independent shops or manufacturers, and other partners such as sales and marketing agencies.

This is what these smaller businesses need to know about image recognition for retail:

It is within their reach
Retail audits through mobile merchandising software are already a reality for smaller retail-focused businesses. Some state-of-the-art merchandising software solutions are already offering image recognition technology.

It is cost-effective
One might think that such a high-end technology would be prohibitive in terms of cost for smaller businesses. However, image recognition for retail - as part of a mobile merchandising solution - is very cost-effective since adopting it might lead to time and personnel savings in addition to increased sales as a result of improved monitoring and reporting.

It is easy to implement
Cloud-based technology means there is no need for small businesses to have high-tech installations or personnel when it comes to mobile merchandising software. In order to implement image recognition for retail, businesses only need to provide some pictures to their software provider so its neural network can be trained in recognizing products and brands. This process normally takes a few weeks.

BrandML means image recognition for retail from VisitBasis, the developers of the mobile merchandising software chosen by many CPG companies, store chains, agencies, and other retail-focused businesses. Learn more about BrandML and VisitBasis at www.visitbasis.com.



Monday, June 1, 2020

Retail Audit Software Can Help Prevent Shortages During Social Distancing

Social distancing measures have generated disruptions in retail inventory and replenishment so it has become increasingly difficult for CPG merchandising and category managers to know whether their products are being properly stocked.

On top of that, store personnel is overwhelmed and under stress, so empty shelves tend to go unnoticed for longer periods of time.

Retail audit software can make a significant difference in reducing out-of-stocks at stores: By implementing a retail audit software solution, managers at CPG companies can schedule frequent recurring store visits and keep a close eye on stock levels. This would be unthinkable with traditional pen-and-paper audits since the volume of data to be transcribed would create a time lag between data collection and reporting that potentially delays any effective action.

Another advantage of implementing retail audit software during social distancing times is that one rep or merchandiser can cover a larger number of stores. After all, retail audit software reduces the duration of visits as it runs as an app on mobile devices and offers productivity features such as filtering and searching through the sometimes hundreds of SKUs when answering questionnaires.

In addition to that, mobile location services allow not only for route optimization but also for GPS verification of visits, assuring management that the audits were performed at the correct store.

Would you like to learn more about VisitBasis retail audit software and how it can benefit your business? Go to www.visitbasis.com and sign up for a free trial and then schedule an online demo at http://meetme.so/visitbasis.


Friday, May 1, 2020

5 Benefits of Field Force Automation

Supervising outside staff and field reps is one of the hardest parts of a manager’s job description, just because there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the activities being performed by the team members throughout the day.

That is the main reason many companies are implementing field force automation. Through mobile technology, smartphones and tablets have become an essential tool for outside teams. But what are the main benefits of field force automation?

Improved staff accountability
An app for field teams allows for straightforward GPS tracking as well for verification of visits. This means that underperforming team members can be easily spotted and then coached into delivering the expected results.

Improved quality of data collected
Paper forms are difficult to update, so many companies just rely on freestyle reporting from their reps and miss out on getting answers that could make a real difference when it comes to developing strategies based on hard data. One of the greatest benefits of field force automation is that it allows management to fully customize forms that will then be answered by their reps on their mobile devices.

Improved staff satisfaction
Many might think that outside staff and reps might have a natural resistance to apps for field teams. However, after a system is implemented, teams show a high level of satisfaction since it virtually eliminates off-hours reporting.

Reduced travel costs
Many apps for field teams, besides GPS tracking, also offer optimized calculation of routes. This allows staff to follow the shortest daily route, leading to reduced mileage reimbursements.

Boost in sales and customer satisfaction
As a consequence of optimized travel routes, increased staff accountability and satisfaction, less time spent reporting, and better data collection, one surprising benefit of field force automation is that it can lead to a boost in sales and customer satisfaction. With the time savings, reps might be able to fit in one or more customer calls a day, and with improved quality.

VisitBasis is an app for field teams that delivers all the benefits of field force automation in an easy-to-implement, Cloud-based solution. Learn more and sign up for a free trial at www.visitbasis.com.


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Competitive Advantage of Mobile Merchandising Technology

merchandising mobile technology
Retail merchandising is a complex science. It relies on data from a large number of geographically dispersed stores and, therefore, also relies on the large number of people collecting such data.

However, many retail-focused businesses - CPG manufacturers, distributors, and agencies - are still dispatching reps and using the traditional pen-and-paper method of collecting data.

While dispatching reps will still be a reality, there is one way out of the cumbersome and time-consuming pen-and-paper: Mobile merchandising technology, which grants several competitive advantages to the businesses that adopt it, among them the following:

Improved brand consistency
Mobile merchandising technology makes it possible to capture images and customize checklists and forms. It also allows creating tasks that are set up by the office, as well as ad-hoc tasks that reps can assign themselves, such as in the case of out-of-stocks or damaged products.
With these features in hand, merchandising and brand management can make sure that their strategies are being properly implemented.

GPS verification of store visits
One of the most common issues that merchandising teams face is, unfortunately, the number of fraudulent visits. Some of the mobile merchandising technology solutions available in the market provide GPS verification of visits, increasing accountability as well as data accuracy and brand compliance.

Real-time access to data
The lag time between data collection and running reports can be significantly delayed by the data transcription necessary to the traditional pen-and-paper audits. With a Cloud-based mobile merchandising technology solution, managers at the office can access data as soon as reps finish their visits and synchronize their devices, leading to faster and more effective decision-making.

Want to know how to implement mobile merchandising technology for your business? Check out  www.visitbasis.com and sign up for a free trial of VisitBasis, the merchandising app chosen by many retail-focused businesses.



Monday, April 6, 2020

4 Main Benefits of Implementing a Field Force Tracking and Data Collection App

Being able to track a field force has been a part of every manager's dream. Not because all managers are controlling or "helicopter-type" but because, by not properly knowing the activities of their outside employees, they could be missing on effective mentoring opportunities and having a higher turnover rate than needed.

Mobile technology brought with it the ability to capture data with smartphones and tablets as well as GPS tracking of such devices. It was just a matter of time until field force tracking and data collection apps started to be developed. But what are the biggest advantages of these types of software?

No after-hours reporting
Reporting is one of the activities most dreaded by field reps: It requires them to work beyond customer or outlet visits, digging into their personal time. With a field force tracking and data collection app, reps can report their activities while performing visits, completely doing away with after-hours reporting.

Instant access to captured data
Mobile technology means any data collected by the app will be uploaded to the Cloud upon synchronization. This means that managers no longer have to wait for data transcription to generate their reports.

Increased in-task time
Beyond simplifying the reporting process, field force tracking and data collection apps also allow for optimized visit scheduling and routing, reducing the time reps spend traveling and therefore increasing their in-task time.

Improved compliance and communication
One of the main reasons for high turnover in-field teams is the lack of compliance. A field force tracking and data collection app helps managers clarify their message on what is expected from reps by allowing them to create custom task forms and checklists as well as creating a culture of accountability with GPS verification of visits.

VisitBasis is a field force tracking and data collection app that is cost-effective and easy to implement, making it an ideal solution for businesses of all sizes. To learn more about VisitBasis and sign up for a free trial, go to www.visitbasis.com or click here to schedule an online demo.


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Implementing Image Recognition for Shelf and Brand Monitoring

Shelf and brand monitoring at retail stores is an essential part of any CPG business. Otherwise, how can merchandising management know if their strategies are being properly executed?

Adopting a mobile merchandising app is the first step in achieving the oversight necessary to effectively monitor retail channel strategies. With a mobile merchandising app, management can streamline keeping track of merchandise sets and resets, promotions, etc, by customizing audit forms and capturing valuable information without having to go through the cumbersome activity of transcribing paper forms.

Additionally, mobile merchandising apps allow for capturing pictures, which are naturally more effective in communicating the actual reality of store shelves than checklists, however with the downfall that - differently than single/ multiple-choice or numeric answers - cannot be automatically quantified.

Recently, however, these merchandising software solutions have evolved even further and now include artificial intelligence technologies that take store inspections to a whole new level. With image recognition for shelf and brand monitoring, the information contained in pictures can be automatically quantified into charts and reports.

This means that, as soon as reps take a picture at stores, image recognition for shelf monitoring will give managers at headquarters access to KPIs such as share of shelf, out-of-stocks, competitor information, among others.

BrandML is the image recognition for shelf monitoring technology developed by VisitBasis, provider of the namesake mobile merchandising app adopted by many CPG manufacturers, distributors and agencies. While state-of-the-art, BrandML can be implemented in a short period of time and is cost-effective, making it a realistic technology upgrade for retail-focused businesses of all sizes.

Interested in learning more about the BrandML image recognition for shelf monitoring technology? Go to www.visitbasis.com and contact us.


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Merchandising: Weekly Reports Can Be a Reality

Old-style merchandising analysis - where data capture was performed with pen and paper - presented several challenges for management, including the fact that reports were few and far between and, because of that, most of the time contained outdated information. Running merchandising weekly reports seemed therefore impossible.

Mobile merchandising apps made it possible for management to have up-to-the-minute access to data captured at stores.

VisitBasis is a mobile merchandising app that allows reps to answer questionnaires and fill in checklists on their own smartphones and tablets. As soon as a store visit is finished, the captured data is synchronized with the Cloud and office-based category and channel managers can immediately run their own reports.

You can, therefore, see how VisitBasis will be used to run weekly or even daily merchandising reports, helping to increase supervision as well as promotion and planogram compliance at the store level.

Besides spreadsheet-type reporting, VisitBasis additionally provides a task-based graphic report interface called VisitBasis Analytics that quantifies form answers to display plotted chart results. This makes it possible for management to know at any point in time the percentage of out-of-stocks for a certain SKU at one or more stores, streamlining decision-making to speed up replenish and prevent loss in sales.

VisitBasis Analytics can help category and retail channel managers produce the following merchandising weekly reports:
  • Out-of-Stocks
  • Share of shelf
  • Product positioning on shelf and/or store
  • Product pricing
  • Promotional pricing
  • Competitor pricing
  • New competitor products
Would you like to see how a merchandising weekly report for your business needs would look like? Sign up for VisitBasis free trial at www.visitbasis.com.



Wednesday, March 4, 2020

3 Ways to Save with a Mobile Merchandising App

mobile merchandising app
Most retail manufacturers, distributors, and agencies have adopted a mobile merchandising app system for performing in-store activities. The advantages are clear, from having all data in digital format from the moment it is captured to the ease of scheduling and planning in-store tasks for reps.

But a mobile merchandising app will also translate into tangible savings, that include the following:

Save paper
The virtual elimination of paperwork is the most obvious advantage of adopting a mobile merchandising app. Besides being a waste of natural resources, paperwork in retail merchandising is messy and unsightly and normally leads to human error in all steps of the data collection process, whether when the rep is filling in a checklist or when the data is being transcribed.

Save time
When a rep fills in a questionnaire or checklist on a mobile merchandising app, the data gets sent directly to the Cloud, where managers can instantly access it. This means that there is no more waiting until forms are transcribed: Order fulfillment can know literally within seconds when an out-of-stock was reported by a rep.

Save aggravation
The high rate of rep turnover makes in-store merchandising one of the most volatile areas of a retail-focused business. Mobile merchandising apps not only increase rep responsiveness and engagement, possibly reducing turnover, but they also improve the quality of deliverables provided by reps, since many of the solutions available on the market have foreign language and geotagging capabilities and can also capture photos in addition to checkboxes and text.

VisitBasis is a mobile merchandising app that allows you to quickly and easily implement a cost-efficient in-store data collection system with no need for technical knowledge.

Would you like to see VisitBasis in action? Schedule an online demo by clicking here.



Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Retail Planogram Compliance Checks via BrandML

Retail planogram compliance is essential in ensuring brand consistency across multiple retail channels. However, achieving full compliance is always an issue due not only to outlet and local limitations, but also because of the difficulty in checking multiple locations in spread-out geographies.

VisitBasis is the go-to merchandising software solution for CPG manufacturers and distributors when it comes to planning and scheduling retail planogram compliance checks. It allows field reps to use their own mobile devices to fill in audit forms and checklists. 

Now VisitBasis has developed BrandML, its own image recognition technology. Retail planogram compliance checks via BrandML extract data from pictures through an artificial intelligence neural network and automatically generate KPI reports.

It might seem that BrandML technology is out-of-reach for most smaller and medium-sized manufacturers and distributors, but it actually is cost-effective and also easy to implement. Management just needs to supply sample shelf pictures to the VisitBasis team so they can "train" the neural network to recognize the company's products.

After it has been configured, performing retail planogram compliance checks via BrandML becomes incredibly easy: Reps just need to take a picture of supermarket shelves and the system will deliver metrics such as share of shelf, out-of-stocks, competitor information, and more.

Since the data is now in the Cloud, brand and merchandising managers at centralized offices can also generate their own reports containing their specific parameters and metrics, and supply their businesses the up-to-date information necessary for calculated strategic decision-making.

Is your business ready for retail planogram compliance checks via BrandML? Contact us today at www.visitbasis.com for more information.



Friday, February 7, 2020

5 Merchandising Report Samples

Retail merchandising analytics is one of the most complex activities in channel management. It involves translating physical data at sometimes thousands of stores into readable information, in the form of tables or, preferably, chart reports.

There are numerous challenges in this process. Just to get things started, compiling information collected on paper from many stores takes a monumental transcription job, which in turn generates a lag between when the results were collected and when the reports were viewed.

By implementing a mobile retail audit solution, managers will completely eliminate this lag time between retail data capture and reporting and even go beyond: Businesses can exponentially increase the breadth of data it collects by developing in-depth forms and generate merchandising reports much more representative of their retail channel realities.

Some of the merchandising report samples that are easily extracted from mobile retail audit solutions include the following:

  1. Planogram compliance report - This merchandising report becomes very easy to run when data capture forms include fields for SKU and face counts.
  2. Visual merchandising report - One of the greatest advantages of implementing a mobile retail audit solution is that these can capture photos, accurately showing centralized management the conditions found at retailers. 
  3. Merchandising audit report - These types of reports can include several questions, evaluating metrics such as product availability and pricing. Out-of-range pricing, for instance, can significantly affect product sales so having regular access to pricing metrics helps management decide on the most effective pricing strategy for each SKU. You can see a merchandising report sample in the below video. 
  4. Category report - This merchandising report sample can combine information such as category share of shelf as well as shelf pictures and show management the reality of its brand at different retailers.
  5. Competitor product report - With the ability to fully customize forms and basically having unlimited access to reports, management can use mobile retail audits to gather competitor intelligence and start developing preemptive strategies.

Would you like to see more merchandising report samples? Schedule right now an online demo of the VisitBasis mobile retail audit solution at http://meetme.so/visitbasis. VisitBasis also offers a 14-day free trial - sign up today at www.visitbasis.com.



Monday, February 3, 2020

Stop the Revolving Door with Merchandising Software for Field Teams

High rep turnover in merchandising field teams is seen as a chronic, inevitable situation in the industry. Reps come and go due to many reasons that can include unreasonable expectations concerning hours and amount of work, lack of experience, poor performance, fraudulent check-ins and reports, among others.

By implementing merchandising software for field teams, rep turnover can be reduced since the following issues are addressed:
  • Fraudulent check-ins and reports
    Merchandising software for field teams adds time and GPS stamps to every activity performed by a rep so it becomes virtually impossible for fraudulent check-ins and/or reports to happen in the first place.
  • Elimination of off-site, after-hours reporting
    With merchandising software for field teams, as soon as reps close their store visits, information from their brand/ product audit forms and checklists is sent to the Cloud, which means that off-site, after-hours reporting is basically eliminated thus reducing rep complaints and the feeling of unfairness due to unpaid work.
  • Poor rep performance
    Merchandising rep is mostly seen as an entry-level position. However, it takes experience to be able to notice when things are not within brand or corporate standards and to report them properly to management. Merchandising software allows managers to create an unlimited number of custom ad-hoc forms, so reps can more easily identify what should be reported.
To summarize, merchandising software for field teams can help create a culture of accountability that helps prevent high turnover.

Does your business have a high turnover among reps? See how the VisitBasis merchandising software for field teams can help you: Schedule an online demo at http://meetme.so/visitbasis.

To sign up for a free 14-day free trial, go to www.visitbasis.com.


Thursday, January 30, 2020

GPS Tracking App for Field Sales Reps Helps Reduce Turnover

Sales managers live in a delicate balance: Do they behave as "helicopter bosses", demanding constant updates from field reps or do let them "do their thing" and risk losing oversight of their team activities?

Most sales reps have more of an independent personality and prefer to be left alone to do their job so any manager that appears to be too demanding and suspicious risks having high rep turnover rates on their teams.

The middle ground to this situation is for businesses to adopt a GPS tracking app for field sales reps. With just one app installed on each rep's mobile devices, management is able to know which customers were visited, how long the visits lasted, and which activities were performed at each location.

Moreover, a GPS tracking app for field sales reps virtually eliminates the dreaded activity of off-hours reporting and allows managers real-time access to call summary reports and activity queries.

Additional features of GPS tracking apps for field sales reps might include:

  • Customization of forms so data capture corresponds to business needs;
  • optimized daily route scheduling and planning;
  • availability of customer as well as product information on rep's mobile device;
  • options for automatically scheduling follow-up calls;
  • real-time chart reports, among others.


VisitBasis is a GPS tracking app for field sales reps that works in Apple as well as Android devices. With VisitBasis, either managers or reps can create and optimize daily customer routes and call information becomes available for viewing and reporting as soon as visits are closed.

Would you like to see for yourself how VisitBasis will work for your business? Sign up today for a free trial at www.visitbasis.com.