Picture yourself walking down the aisle of a grocery store looking for the coffee section. You see it, it’s halfway down the aisle to your right. “Ok I see it now, there’s my favorite product…and there’s my brand, oh what’s that? Hmm…looks interesting”. Such a scenario is why you need to monitor your brand presence on retail shelves or how well your brand stands out among a sea of similar products.
The store shelf is a consumers’ first point of interaction with your product. As a result, your brand presence or how your product looks at the retail shelf becomes almost imperative. When consumers approach the shelf, their eyes are constantly scanning the shelf to see what else there is — this is the moment when another brand can catch the attention of the consumer and become a part of the purchase consideration. It’s a game of seconds.
Every day the shopper is getting bombarded with different brand packaging laid across the store. The fight for shelf space is getting more competitive day by day. Brands are trying every possible technique to create a brand presence or product packaging that catches the eye of the shopper in a retail store. Every product has its own personality and brands have a really small window to showcase their products USP to the client or the buyer. The shelf is a key opportunity to display the product quality to the consumers.
Shelf Space and Brand Presence
The number of products in the marketplace is continually increasing while shelf space shrinks, due to rise of private labels and smaller retail formats. Faced with increasingly complex decisions about which products to place where, and how to create a profitable brand presence, sales teams are often ill-equipped to make the right decisions.
It is very important for brands to make sure that retailers stack their products properly to maintain visibility. At the same time, the retailers want to ensure that their highest selling products occupy maximum shelf space. It is a tough war in which consumers are the referees.
If a product is bright and visible, shoppers will see it, but they also make inferences about a brand relative to where it’s placed on the shelf. Traditionally, eye-level shelving is the most preferred, followed by waist level, knee the level and ankle level. It is nearly impossible to locate all items at the eye level. Therefore, product packaging and marketing plays a key role in getting the attention of the shopper. Even then, the pros of having a better shelf presence are undeniable.
People expect things on the top to be of higher quality. In fact, they expect things on top to be better in general. Ever heard the phrase “top of the shelf”. Enterprises can bump up the brand presence simply by tweaking its placement on the shelf.
There is no doubt that shelf monitoring and shelf placement can attract new customers to a brand. If the brand is targeting millennials with an open mind who don’t just buy products based on brand or based on price, brands have to increase their shelf presence. The same principles of visibility hold true for online sales, where ensuring search engines are primed with keywords for your brand will increase visibility.
However, getting prime placement in retail stores do take more money off your marketing budget, but it’s money well spent, and marketing managers nowadays re-allocate their budgets to pay more attention to the point of sale and think more about brand presence instead of just brand preference. Spending a part of your marketing money at the point where people actually make the decision in the store helps increase brand awareness and visibility and perhaps even your brand image
The Perfect Solution: ShelfWatch
History dictates that none of them has performed well in isolation. Traditional retail stores suffered from human errors while employing the human workforce to perform compliance audits. Current solutions improve efficiency but the time lag between collection of shelf data and processing it to gain insights proves costly in this highly competitive environment. Companies need a comprehensive solution that reduces the reliability of field agents to record perfect data and the time lag between input (pictures, videos from shelves ) and output (useful insights from data).
Here, Artificial Intelligence comes to the rescue. ParallelDots has leveraged the power of AI to create ShelfWatch and SmartGaze. The extent of its advantages can be fully understood by analyzing each stakeholder in the retail audit process.
Brand and SmartGaze
Finally, it will be the Consumer Goods companies that will benefit the most from our AI-powered solution. They can analyze all types of pictures from retail audits by using SmartGaze for shelf object detection. SmartGaze will help cut the time lag between input data and final insights. This abets the company to take on-time corrective action, if necessary.
Field Agents and ShelfWatch
The reps face major challenges while collecting data in the form of pictures and videos. There is a lack of uniformity in stacking patterns across retailers which leads to different kinds of pictures in terms of stack orientation, lighting, and positioning. Field agents struggle with maintaining consistency with the data they collect because such non-standard pictures take longer to analyze. In the pursuit of standard images, field agents fall prey to other types of human perception biases.
ShelfWatch helps the field agents by giving them the flexibility to take pictures in any orientation, lighting or positioning. Such flexibility is allowed because shelf watch is not dependent on standard uniform images to give accurate output. Using state-of-the-art AI algorithms, ShelfWatch analyzes even the most distorted images because it uses AI packaging recognition technology.
Retailers and ShelfWatch
Compliance audits are tough tasks for retailers as well. To comply with the preset planogram is part of the service agreement between the retailer and the brands. If the retailers are found to be violating the agreement by displaying fewer products, or by placing the products incorrectly, it can attract penalties and even termination of contracts.
ShelfWatch allows field reps to be flexible while collecting data. It also helps retailers comply with service agreements. Images collected by the agents are analyzed irrespective of the light, positioning, and orientation of the products on the shelf. This saves retailers from false audit reports. Even if the shelf is not well-stacked, ShelfWatch detects all the objects on the shelf, thus reducing incidences of non-compliance.
Found the blog useful? Read this other blog to understand how AI is beneficial for retail shelf monitoring.
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