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How Lean CPG Teams Can Work Smarter, Not Harder

Retail food sales are still going strong as the pandemic lingers, but CPG brands often face challenges capturing this growth: it’s hard to know what to spend on, where to focus, or how to keep up with the rapid changes brought on by the past year. 

Many CPG companies are still operating remotely and with reduced team sizes, which doesn’t make it any easier. Folks are spread thin, and while access to information in a remote environment is possible, it means data is stored in multiple locations, portals, and documents. This creates inefficiencies, which is the last thing a small team needs. Having worked for years in the analytics space with high-performing teams at emerging and enterprise CPG brands, here are the data best practices I recommend to help lean teams work smarter:

1. Eliminate "work waste" (read: time spent downloading reports)

In CPG, far too much employee time is spent downloading reports from vendor or distributor portals -- an average of 10-20 hours per week for most clients I work with. This time spent downloading spreadsheets and building pivot tables takes a salesperson away from building buyer relationships, and keeps an analyst from delivering the value-add of their skillset. Crisp addresses this problem by harmonizing a brand’s retail and distributor data in one location. With just a few clicks, users can access insights on demand through a web-based dashboard, or have their sales data piped into programs used internally (Excel, PowerBI, and more). This lets category managers and analysts do what they do best: find insights to help drive the business forward.

2. Break down data silos

When brands have employees working in different regions, or these days working remotely, siloed data inefficiencies are bound to occur. One employee might have credentials to the distributor portal or access to pivot tables where data is stored; another might get reports emailed to them from a retailer they call on directly; and yet another is trying to track down a broker for the latest insights. Meanwhile, someone else back at HQ needs that information ASAP in order to make a business decision, and you’re spending valuable time swapping data back and forth. The key: give everyone at the company access to a single source of truth, whether they’re a data power user or not. Having a platform like Crisp where everyone can access up-to-date, accurate information all in one spot is a game changer.

3. Focus on your distribution

For lean sales teams, time is more precious than ever before. While a brand may want reps or brokers to ensure every retailer and every store has product on-shelf, it’s nearly impossible to do in practice. When time is limited, it’s important to focus your points of distribution with an eye on retention. While distribution gains are absolutely a reason to celebrate, sometimes you need to prioritize where you’re at risk and where you’ve recently lost to ensure the business stays strong.

I help clients leverage Crisp data to understand their distribution and identify those high-priority areas that need attention. For example, the Crisp UNFI Retention Tab offers insights into stores purchasing through UNFI, tracking points of distribution and sales. This information can be helpful from the executive level down to your regional DSD reps. Based on the selected time period, these dashboards help you see which products are being added to, or disappearing from, retail shelves.

The most exhaustive table in this tab, Points of Distribution Details, provides detailed information that you, your DSD reps, or your brokerage can act on. By filtering for AT RISK or LOST stores, a user can prioritize which accounts need to be tended to, and easily export the list as marching orders for reps and brokers on the front lines.

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New and lost points of distribution for UNFI

4. Have a smart growth plan

Common questions that come up for high-growth brands are “where am I selling my product?” and “where should I be selling my product?" When a company has more data than it has people to process it, there can be a lack of visibility at the store level. It’s important to distill your data into an actionable plan for growth. Crisp offers a detailed map view that allows users to see exactly which chains, stores, and zip codes their products are selling in, giving sales teams the information they need to ensure the right products are at the right locations. 

For example, Crisp’s Regional Heat Map allows you to quickly find regions where product popularity is high versus those are underperforming. Users can hover over portions of this heat map to see granular insights into specific areas and drill down to the zip code. From there, you can identify successful points of distribution and seek additional coverage at nearby stores or regions with similar customer demographics. You can also filter on a time period to evaluate demo and promotional success.

But sales maps aren’t just for sales teams: they also give the marketing team direction to ensure advertising dollars are being spent in the right areas. Advertising for retail sales is hard to do precisely, but the right sales data enables marketers to make more strategic decisions on search and ad spend. With sales and inventory information down to the store level, they can adjust marketing parameters to target customers where the message will resonate most, or where they can actually find available products. Geographic data can also be used to fulfill the “Where can I buy this item near me?” requests from your consumers that were previously difficult to answer.

There is plenty more growth to be had in the retail market, and often what stands in the way is the bandwidth to find and capture the right opportunities. By using data to minimize manual labor and target your most promising areas for growth, your team can stay lean and work smarter to win the market.

Want to see what Crisp’s Business Insights Dashboard can do for your team? Contact us today for a demo. For more industry insights and best practices, subscribe to the Crisp blog. 

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Crisp uses the power of the cloud to connect and analyze all of your data sources in real-time, providing you with the most meaningful insights and trends for your business. When you know exactly what’s in store, you can keep shelves stocked and customers happy while skyrocketing profitability.

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