Circle Opinion

Field Force value optimisation for convenience

Stewart Moody

The Latest Analytics Techniques to Underpin ROI Are Now Accessible

Field Force Value Optimisation means operating your field sales team in the most focused and effective way to maximise sales performance and ROI. These are basic principles that every leader and manager selling brands to the convenience sector strives to meet.

Convenience is a growing channel: reps are highly influential in driving sales performance and brands want their share of the opportunity. But with so many variables and in a rapidly changing world, it’s no simple matter to route the right rep at the right time to the right location.

Different products will perform well in different locations – we all know this.

We’re going to explain how it’s now possible to influence retailers effectively by using the latest data and analytics to compete cost-effectively in the convenience channel. It’s about targeting reps to the stores where they will have the greatest impact on sales, knowing which product lines or promotion to push in that store, using accurate predictive models to size the local shopper opportunity and ultimately prioritising where reps spend their time.

Traditional Approaches Don’t Deliver the Best ROI

Historically, most field reps drive a regular route around their territory, aiming to cover every convenience store once in each weekly, fortnightly or monthly cycle, (occasionally making a promotionally led deviation.) While this is great for maintaining contact, oversight and relationships, it doesn’t concentrate resources on the greatest opportunities to increase sales.

Reps can make a big difference in underperforming stores, by helping to diagnose and correct issues that are slowing sales. Armed with trustworthy evidence, they can unlock valuable new opportunities by showing store managers how they can increase sales with new products, promotions and ranges that are right for their customers.

There’s a two-fold challenge here. You need to be able to generate realistically driveable routes in response to changing needs. But before that, you need to know where underperformance and opportunity may lie, and what it’s worth in sales and ROI terms to address it.

New, Rich Data Gives a Clear Picture of Opportunities in Each Territory

In convenience, we don’t have the luxury of detailed EPOS data to compare performance between similar outlets or to spot trends from historic data. Catchment information can be useful for opportunity-spotting, but it’s a blunt instrument: it only shows you who lives and works near the store, without any indication of where they shop, their dwell time, peak demand periods, seasonality or how any of their needs and preferences are evolving.

But now there is an alternative. Rich datasets and powerful analytics tools are now available for brand owners and field sales operators to evaluate store performance and opportunity, segmenting them into meaningful categories and revealing changing consumer behaviours and habits that influence demand in the convenience channel.

This data insight allows you to understand the relative importance and absolute value of the stores in a territory. Ultimately, you can calculate the ROI of sending a rep into a particular store.

Real-Time Local Consumer Behaviour Data

Building on our experience working with a range of convenience retailers, we use a wide range of datasets to understand what drives the potential of a location. This ranges from our purpose-built datasets to describe the function and role of different locations, competitor information and detailed insight into local demographics. Using this we can identify the raw potential for different products.

Our latest addition, anonymised mobile data allows us to understand who is in an area, by time of day and build a picture of why they are there. This provides unique insight into what role the store is serving and its consumers, and therefore the sales potential for different products.

By modelling different scenarios based on this data, we can show what value is generated by more or less frequent visits by a rep to different types of outlet. We can factor in the costs relating to drivetime and mileage. We can prioritise outlets for visits by ranking the ROI potential.

For more remote convenience stores, there may be a big sales opportunity but the cost and time to visit is disproportionate. Brands and field team managers can make an evidence-based decision about whether and how often to send reps or whether alternative methods of communication and influence, such as telesales, would be more profitable.

How to Access the Evidence You Need to Optimise Your Field Force ROI

These new datasets and analytics show an up-to-date picture of opportunities and performance gaps by convenience outlet and reveal the profitability of rep visits. They show change as it happens, so you can plan resources and adjust visit schedules to address current priorities. The mix of instore and external data creates a detailed and accurate profile for any convenience store. This gives the manager added value from the rep and confidence to follow recommendations.

These rich data analytics for field force optimisation are available now. And you don’t need in-house data scientists to access them. Talk to the CACI team to find out how we can help you exploit focused insight to understand and improve the ROI of your field team and enhance sales performance.

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Stewart Moody