As a visual merchandiser, your mission often consists in making sure the customer experience you created truly reflects what your brand means for your customers, and that the overall feeling one can get in entering one of your stores is concordant with your brand construction, but also adds another “human” dimension to your marketing strategy (in particular your web strategy).
Overall, there are numbers of first class brands that have been doing a great job mixing different routes to markets while bringing their customers a unified customer experience between their digital strategy (web store included), brand communication and their physical store implementation.
One name that often appears when speaking with our retail customers is Apple, a very interesting case in terms of visual merchandising because it is one of the few “ultra-powerful” brands that has developed its network of physical stores way after building the majority of its brand / digital/ e-commerce strategy. Visual merchandising is an important element of the global customer experience, not only in building a nice in store experience but also as a part of a unified brand management.
Due to most organizations being structured in silo, each business unit is often monitoring its own part. Depending on the company (every organization being different) :
This often leads to believe the customer experience and thus the sales figures are an addition of all these elements:
Offer + Customer experience (location + merchandising + inventory + sales and product skills +…) = SALES
The truth is:
Offer X Customer experience (location X merchandising X inventory X sales and product skills X…) = SALES
Switching from an addition to a multiplication changes the way you can envisage your retail business. By extension, If one of the elements is close to zero, your final sales figures will be well… deceptive. Visual merchandising being only ONE element of the global customer experience you might want to monitor other ingredients like: sales training, shop inventory…
Even experienced pilots won’t rely on their sole experience before taking off, errors in the multiplication process of checking their plane being possibly much more fatal than a bad visual merchandising. That’s the reason why pilots always use checklists as a primary tool before any take off (and of course checklists are different for every different model of planes…). For exemple, see how the NASA handles checklists.
While much less critical, it should be the same when talking about customer experience and visual merchandising in particular.
Working with 500+ points of sale chains, we sometimes ear that they rely on their store manager to make sure the visual merchandising is compliant and, with a limited population of visual merchandisers, checks are made on a sample varying from 20 to 50 stores to assess the good execution and/or escalade possible errors or misinterpretations. The problem is that when you are in a new product launch process or a refurbishing of your store concept, you won’t be able to check in real time that every aspect is handled correctly in all your stores.
To return to the plane analogy, digital audit solutions like Cockpit provides you with all the tools to make sure that, depending on the store size or concept you address, your visual merchandisers and your store managers will get:
So that you can get a real time synthesis on your Cockpit dashboard to measure:
Far from being a rigid process Cockpit gives you a flexible solution to tackle your visual merchandising processes while giving your employees all the necessary tools to easily implement your merchandising strategy, assess the right execution, but also share the reality on the field with its induced surprises (good and bad). This is particularly true when talking about special sales operations when the timing is very tight and when measuring the good execution BEFORE the operation is critical (remember the equation…).