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What is the role of sales agencies and can they help brands and retailers grow in a changing convenience market?

Author: Gordon Neil

In this blog, our Strategy and Marketing Director, Gordon Neil, gives his view on the 3 priorities for sales agencies when it comes to helping brands sell more in Convenience retail, whilst helping retailers to grow.

The combination of growth, evolving consumer shopping habits, and retailers delivering new store propositions makes the UK convenience channel an exciting place at the moment. It’s a sector where growth is expected to continue, making it a key channel for all brands versus a time where convenience was dominated by few categories.

Consumers are, quite rightly, a demanding bunch. They seek to buy what they want, wherever is convenient for them whilst looking for a great experience in the process. Retailers are offering new store propositions to attract and retain consumers and the challenge for brands now is how to support that, so that they share in the growth opportunity.

Once a brand has the right proposition for the channel, they face the significant challenge of how to speak to, and influence retailers. With so many independently owned stores in the UK, it is a costly exercise, particularly in a channel that has been relatively bereft of data, with few solutions to talk to retailers outside of trade press and field sales.

Add to this the pressure brands are under to create efficiency and you have a challenge on your hands. The solution may be to leverage the thought leadership of sales agencies to help both brands and retailers overcome hurdles, if both are to grow.

In our view there are 3 challenges and opportunities to focus on:

  1.        Make data central to the solution
  2.        Make field teams more efficient
  3.        Create new efficient ways to speak to and influence retailers

1. Make data central to the solution:

Making data central, starts with targeting the right stores. At McCurrach, we combine unrivalled data from our sales teams, News UK, FCRS and geodemographics to help brands target the stores that will unlock the most value for them.

This provides great strategic direction, but the market as a whole has little EPOS data at scale, which would enable amazing insight and clear direction for field teams. However, that could be about to change as we’ll be sharing some exciting news over the next few weeks on a new partnership which will unlock EPOS analytics for up to 8,000 Convenience stores initially, stretching beyond 10,000 in 2020. This will be a game changer for brands in Convenience and if you’d like to be amongst the first to talk to us about it, just get in touch.

2. Make field teams more efficient:

Years of operating field teams in the Convenience sector tells us that the biggest inefficiency field teams face is carrying and selling stock direct to store. It’s not something that can be overcome with transfer orders, because that only reaches a limited proportion of stores, and running your own van operation is cost prohibitive for all but the largest brands in the market.

To unlock real efficiency, you need to be able to eliminate the need to carry stock entirely. This enables more calls per day because calls will be shorter and there will be no need to visit the Cash and Carry. It will also enable more stock to be sold because the field team are not limited by what they have in their vehicle that day.

We’ve recently partnered with a business to solve this and our pilot tells us coverage increases by over 10%, stock sold increases by over 90% and 100% of deliveries are made successfully with payment happening on delivery. More to come on this in the next 2 weeks, but we’re certain this will change the face of how field sales operate in the channel.

3. Create new efficient ways to speak to and influence retailers:

Retailers are evolving the ways they engage, adoption of digital is growing rapidly, creating new ways for brands and retailers to engage. We’ve already been clear this year that brands shouldn’t jump to solution mode on this; asking retailers to access multiple websites to get simple advice and offers for each category in their store is already creating a challenge and complication for retailers.

Solutions need to start with what retailers want, they’re the user after all. Retailers have told us they want to be able to access advice and offers for categories and brands in one place. That’s why we created and launched our app, MyStore+, and we’re already helping brands like Unilever, News UK and Yoti connect with retailers to provide advice, offers and rewards that help both growth their business.

Digital connectivity is the future to helping every brand connect directly with Convenience retailers, we encourage brands to listen to what retailers want. Don’t go it alone, talk to us about MyStore+ and how it can help you. Oh, and if you need an extra reason to do that, you should know that you’ll only pay for success when you publish an offer or reward to retailers.

These are the three key areas that we think sales agencies should focus on. It’s far from an exhausted list but just delivering on these three things will change the face of sales in the channel as we know it. As mentioned, we’ve got more big news coming in the next few weeks in each of these areas so keep your eyes peeled and get in touch to be the first to find out how you can lead the market with us.

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