Have you ever wished for a "do over"? Have you ever wanted to undo a business mistake? Have you ever agonized over a decision only to make the wrong choice?
Hindsight is 20/20. While it's easy to be a Monday morning armchair quarterback, decisions made down on the field are a lot more complicated.
Predicting demand (consumer take-away) and planning effective promotions can be extremely challenging, especially for a new brand. However, this does not need to keep you up at night.
The biggest challenges in natural are inconsistent distribution (items with spotty distribution throughout the chain), inconsistent and confusing merchandising (items not merchandised the ways consumers shop), and inconsistent promotion/pricing. Solving these problems will help regulate supply and improve customer takeaway. Solving these problems will give your brand/store consistent messaging to consumers: we are the go to destination for "As seen on TV".
Four easy solutions:
1. Stock top selling items across the market, in addition to your niche/specialty products. This makes your store more shopper friendly and inviting to consumers. You can then encourage customers to trade up your specialty items.
2. Sections should be merchandised the way consumers buy. Mixing segments within a category can be confusing to shoppers. Keep like segments together merchandising by type. For example, don't mix broth and soup. Instead place the soups together in a section where customers can easily compare different brands of tomato soup.
3. Stock enough product to support each promotion. Out of stocks communicate that you don't understand consumer demand. Properly plan for and get commitments from manufacturers and distributors to fully support the promotion. Promotions should focus on items currently in stock at every store. Other Items should include a limited stock disclaimer in the ad.
4. Have the right data (business intelligence). While canned reports provide a quick topline overview, custom ad hoc reports can help you grow sustainable sales and help meet, and even exceed, your objectives. Most canned reports don't address these specific business concerns and won't help you in the above situations. You need reports that provide actionable insights. This is where you might consider hiring a talented category manager. Someone with the necessary skills to drive sales helping you compete with even the largest and most sophisticated CPG manufacturers.
Hindsight might be 20/20, but following these simple steps will give you a bright future.