One of the recurring complaints you would likely hear from Field Marketing Managers and Demo Coordinators is how unreliable are the Brand Ambassadors they have to deal with. In fact, if you ever experienced scheduling a few demos, you have probably endured a Brand Ambassador's last moment cancellation or "now show".
I would like to posit that the Brand Ambassadors' perceived lack of reliability is not necessarily caused by their mercurial personalities, but by the nature of their business and unavailability of appropriate time management tools. Consider the fact that most Brand Ambassadors are independent contractors who try to earn their living selling their personal skills in small time increments. After all, most in store demos only last 3-4 hours. As such, the Brand Ambassadors need to market their services to Demo Coordinators, Brand Managers, etc. as well as delivering these services in stores and events.
It is impossible to estimate how many hours a Brand Ambassador has to market their services to get a single demo for which she can earn $60-$140. This reality forces them to continuously work with multiple Brands, conflicting times and constantly changing dates.
Demo scheduling is a very fluid process that requires a lot of flexibility from all participants, from Brand and Field Marketing Managers to store personnel, product distributor, to Brand Ambassadors. However, the last link of this chain, the Brand Ambassador, is the least equipped to deal with the demands of flexibility. The byproduct of a flexibility is uncertainty. In the case of Brand Ambassadors it is the uncertainty of being paid for their efforts, while everyone else is paid their hourly salaries. If the changes to dates and times create a conflict with their commitment to other brands they work with, they are the only link in the demo chain who is not getting paid.
Consider the fact that most Brand Ambassadors use a phone, email, Google Calendar and spreadsheets to manage their business commitments and activities, and you will see a picture of a juggler, desperately trying to keep all the "balls" in the air. It is only a matter of time and gravity before some of these "balls", i.e. demo commitments, come down crashing to the floor and cause the last moment cancellations or "no show".
Event Management Software
There are myriads of project/task/shift/etc management services available online today. However, all of them are designed for the owners of these business processes, who are in a position to control steps, tasks and communications. Not for the last link of the process chain, Brand Ambassador, who is on the receiving end of all that "flexibility". Besides, many Demo Coordinators do not use such services either because they do not offer enough specific help for the demo management process, and are not a good fit for other demo management tasks.
Use of the right tool for intelligent scheduling and coordination of ever changing demo requirements can go a very long way to reduce the frustration and "flakiness" of Brand Ambassadors. Additional benefits include:
- increased productivity of a Demo Coordinator who can manage 400-500 demos per month
- controlled automated communications with all involved parties
- greater availability of Brand Ambassador time to you because the use of such a tool reduces the uncertainty of Brand Ambassadors being paid for their time and efforts
- automated generation of BA invoices, payment statements and BA tax preparation documentation
- online demo reporting and data collection for subsequent analysis supporting Field Marketing ROI calculations.
Retail transactions done online afford customers, wholesalers, retailers and even the manufacturers, the luxury of conducting business anywhere at their own convenience. With speed and accuracy, operations can be carried out smoothly - one can therefore see the dilemma traditional independent grocers face. The concerns about falling traffic in your stores are very real as over 71% of consumers trust that they can find better prices online.
So how do you as a traditional retailer survive and most importantly thrive amidst the disruption and turbulence caused by ecommerce? Below are some ideas to increase sale in retail stores.
The first key to survival is to retain and increase foot traffic in your store - this is one of most important grocery store marketing strategies. The good news is that 94% of retail sales are still conducted in brick and mortar stores. Even with the ease of ecommerce, people still prefer a physical experience, a relationship, an interaction with the product or the retailer. This is what defines us as humans - our desire to interact.
The Major Keys to Survival in this Volatile Retail Environment
One of the best strategies to boost number of customer visits in your stores is to leverage this human desire to interact and to discover new experiences. Try to re-imagine your store as an event space which your customers see as being a fun place to visit - not just the place they need to go for weekly provisioning. Promoting limited time price discounts (TPR) on popular and well known products only leads to erosion of margin.
“If consumers come to expect price cuts as the rule rather than the exception, then price promotions lose their ability to boost sales and become unprofitable. “
Consequently, one of the major keys to survival in this volatile retail environment is the creation of exceptional customer experience in your stores. Retail leaders realize that customers now have a plethora of choices available to them. Surely, the store that provides the best experience is certainly where the customers will throng to. In essence, the traditional grocers have the advantage over ecommerce giants in providing quality customer experience through in store demo and other event based marketing strategies.
According to a survey of 1,786 US grocery shoppers conducted by Food Marketing Institute.
“Among all regular food shoppers, brick-and-mortar supermarkets continue to enjoy a clear edge over online grocery retail in perceived performance on key evaluation criteria, especially in providing fresher produce (a top store-selection driver) and better customer service,”
According To a Survey
With the ever dynamic nature of retail today, there is no way you can talk about improving customer experience without including in store demos. This refined tactic helps to draw customers, boost sales of demonstrated products and also improve the sales of other products in that category. To withstand the barrage of online competitors, you have to think of an in-store demo as a network of events rather than one elaborate show. Knowing the right product to demo, duration of each demo and location for the demo are very crucial to your stores survival. In order to measure the impact of in store demos on your stores’ Sales Per Customer Transaction, you have to consider
Understanding return on investment for these promotional strategies can go a long way in attracting the sponsors for them. Analysis of data, collected effortlessly by your POS, holds the key to leveraging vendor’s promotional budgets for increasing foot traffic in your stores. Any quality in store demo agency or vendor’s field marketing organization collects valuable data specific to the demo events they conduct. Cross referencing POS with demo data can produce empirical evidence, that would entice vendors to demos in your stores all day long, and that will lift:
In retrospect, arming yourself with the right information and tactics will give you sufficient leverage in the unstable 'waters' of retail. Reaching out to your customers, giving them the very best and improving on your operations are essential tips for relieving the pressure of online competitors.
Retail is one business that entails a lot of effort to succeed; you can't just wake up one morning, cook up a marketing strategy and expect to flourish. Some retailers currently find themselves in a bit of a fix when it comes to marketing. There are strategies involved in making your product stand out from the rest of the pack, especially if you sell products that can be experienced by the shoppers, you will need something more than just some ads to impress. In store sampling is one of the most effective tools for that purpose.
Brand activation is the art of of driving consumer action through campaigns, brand interaction and experiences. As an upcoming or certified grocery store, in store demo offers are the most effective marketing strategies that help to promote a product. In retrospect, a successful in store sampling or product demo makes, for a strong brand activation.
Product demonstration literally allows the shopper experience every bit of the product and what better way of knowing the quality than tasting it. A bit of a statistics to water your taste buds - in store sampling is known to increase sales by as much as 2,000 percent. Invariably, majority of those shoppers that experience the product go on to make purchase - the very essence of business.
Therefore, it is not a function of how many ads you run - though still a viable marketing strategy, but the combination of in store demos would guarantee notable brand activation in the store, ultimately yielding to a spike in the store's revenue. Consequently, many retailers have adopted this form of field marketing and we will see why "one taste sells better than a 1000 ads".
In-store Demos Offers
These offers have a plethora of benefits to the retailer and the store. Not only does it help promote the product but an in store demo fosters connection. In store demo offers allow you to connect directly to the customer. Furthermore, interaction that spans within and outside the store can also emanate just from in store sampling. Consequently, with the relationship established with the shoppers, you can convert them into loyal customers, hence, the need for experienced brand ambassadors that will help push the right traffic for your product. In fact, the customer could even go about telling people about your product based on the rapport and experience at the product demonstration. The more your connection, the higher your sales. Also, in store demo offers afford customers the luxury of trying different varieties of your product. For example, if it is yoghurt you are trying to promote, you can bring different flavors some people have not heard, and let them try them.
In Store Sampling Survey
This survey is yet another reason to hop on the in store demo bandwagon. Let's check some facts. According to a study, more than a third of customers who tried samples said they bought the product during the same shopping trip. Put simply, more than three out of ten people bought the product after the product demonstration. Now imagine the numbers at the close of the store. You still want to get stuck on the numerous ad campaigns you ran before? In store demo offers also have the glittering reputation of not only increasing an item's sales but also boosting sales for all products in the line by as much as 177 percent on the day of the demonstration. This was according to a 2009 study, “Report on In-store Sampling Effectiveness”.
Brand Ambassadors Charges
Running numerous ads for your products can be time consuming and costly. In store demos are relatively low. Most brands pay $20-$35 per hour to Brand Ambassadors for promoting their products in the stores. Furthermore, there could be some additional charges to the fee if the influencer (brand ambassador) travels from a distance to the store. However, if this is becoming too hectic, you can have a fixed cost demo company as a partner. This will erase hassles that come with planning for a successful in store demo. Interestingly, you can get the attention of prospects through some field marketing techniques like coupons which go for less than a dollar. You might probably be thinking of how much you have spent on advertising online, but not to worry, it is not too late to add another weapon into your retail arsenal.
Retail is a volatile business. Without the right techniques to guide you through, it may be a disastrous journey. In order to swim comfortably and avoid the treacherous waves of retail, you will need to carefully plan your in store demo. No one says that advertising does not work, but with in store demo offers, you have an extra lift above your competitors. This is particularly needed for retailers in the food industry which is highly competitive. It is either you do things creatively or watch others dominate the market. The affordability, ease and luxury in store demos provide the retailers and the shoppers makes it clear to see why "one taste is better than 1000 ads"©. Brands understand this standpoint, hence, the reason they appeal to the emotions of customers all around. Notwithstanding, there are still many intricate details to make the product demonstration a success. Some of which are getting quality brand ambassadors, the right location and having the right product.
Finally, there is something that happens when you come in physical contact to the product or store. The experience cannot be compared to just watching on the TV or listening to the radio. So, we know why retailers and shoppers enjoy In store demo offers.
WHAT IS PRODUCT DEMONSTRATION?
A product demonstration is one of your best sales tools if you have a high-quality product. It is a marketing strategy that allows shoppers see what your product is really about. Here, there are no cameras, just the brand for people to see, feel, hear or taste depending on the type of product on display. Product demonstrations provide visual support to enhance the quality of your sales presentation. Prospects who are more visual or hands-on learners often need to see your product in action to fully grasp its value and potential. Product demonstration also supports what the brand ambassadors say or what the shoppers might have heard before they try the product.
WHAT IS THE DEMONSTRATION METHOD?
It is very easy to miss the mark when planning for an in store demo program. However, you should have some rules to guide you.
Understand that each customer is unique. So, customize your in store demo to suit the customers. One way you can easily understand unique characteristics is by conducting research and getting information from the employees.
Tell the customer's story. Let the customer feel attached to the product by providing information that links them to the product.
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
Test everything beforehand.
After the demo, close the deal.
In store demos are used in department stores and grocery supermarkets in order to introduce customers to products and by doing this, increase their chances of purchasing the product. A retail in store brand ambassador showcases products and give potential customers the opportunity to experience, sample or taste the product. Demos can be effective in increasing sales if handled properly. As a retailer, you must be aware of your customers’ needs and make necessary provisions for these needs. One of the features of demos that can increase the chances of attracting potential customers is the cleanliness of the demo table and surrounding space. When planning an in store demo, put in mind the size of the store and create enough space between aisles and keep walkways free of merchandise. As much as a demo is meant to increase the probability of a customer buying a product, it can also reduce sales if there are cramped spaces in the store due to a product demo and it can turn off potential customers. Below are some of the important tips for a great in store demo:
Engage Your Consumer
In order to have a great in store demo that will add value to sales, you must be willing to engage your consumers. Speak with them and know more about their needs. The more people get to know you, the more they trust you and the more they are likely to buy your product. Most consumers make buying decisions based on their emotions and the more you connect with your potential consumers during in store demos, the higher their chances of buying your product and there is a likelihood that they might become loyal customers.
Have a Great Story
During an in store demo, a product demonstrator must be able to inject anecdotes and funny stories instead of making the potential customers feel like they have been sucked into a sales pitch. For example, if the product is about kids and your potential customers have their kids with them, you can tell a story about how much your kids love the different flavors of the product you are demonstrating. This will make your demonstration more like a friendly conversation and it can make your customers stick around if you can find a way to relate to them and this in turn will increase their likelihood of purchasing the product.
Have a Great Brand Ambassador
One of the key features that can improve in store demo sales in any retail center is the in store demonstrator. An in store demonstrator is the one who introduces a customer to a product and helps them try it as well. The importance of a great in store demonstrator cannot be overemphasized. Customers will most likely prefer to listen to a friendly and knowledgeable sales person than an aloof and overly professional one. Having an air of friendliness and professionalism can improve customers’ willingness to buy a product.
Pick Items that You and Other Staff Members Really Like
During an in store demo, your display of enthusiasm towards a product can increase the likelihood of a purchase. When you like a product and you have full knowledge about it and how it works, you will be very enthusiastic to introduce it to potential customers and your enthusiasm can be infectious thereby, prompting consumers to purchase the item. The next time you want to do an in store demo, choose a product that you like and watch your sales increase as a result of your enthusiasm.
Have the Product Nearby
Another important point to note during an in store demo is the ready availability of the product. Consumers are more likely to buy a product if they can grab it right away than when they have to walk down the aisle to find the product. In case of the latter, there is a probability that they might forget about it by the time they get there.
Have Adequate Knowledge About the Product
Customers like to ask questions about a product and as an in store demonstrator, you must have adequate knowledge about the product as this will give customers the assurance that they are in good hands. When customers ask questions and they are not satisfied with the answers, this can decrease the probability of them purchasing the item.
Question 1: Do In Store Demo Work?
Yes, if carried out effectively. In store demos are a great way to bring customers in touch with products and if done in the right way, it increases sales and can also promote customers’ loyalty to a brand. Most consumers get stuck in the routine of buying the same products over time but in store demos is a great way to showcase new products to consumers and give them a taste of something different from their regular routine and this in turn might increase their likelihood to purchase a product thereby, increasing sales.
Question 2: Who is a Brand Ambassador?
A Brand Ambassador or a product demonstrator is a person who shows consumers how to use or sample a product and helps them try it. Often, a product demonstrator is a store employee and an expert on the product at hand. There is nothing more powerful than a great product demonstration. When done correctly, it allows the customers to see and feel how things will be better if they buy a product and it takes the skill of an experienced and skilled demo person to sway the emotion of potential consumers. A product demonstrator does not have to be necessarily expensive to afford instead, any member of the staff who has adequate knowledge about the product and has an aura of friendliness and professionalism can be a good demo person. The person must be enthusiastic, outgoing, well spoken and quick to learn. The person must possess good communication skills and must be able to draw from personal experience during a product demonstration.
There are several write ups about Amazon acquisition of Whole Food Markets with everyone attempting to clearly state their own opinion. This is seen from different sectors including pundit specification from industries which is channeled towards an unavoidable disruption of the grocery industry. This is with the primary aim of having an analysis of the Whole Foods price reductions. Joining the choir was my own way of offering my opinion and observation from an industry ecosystem participant perspective.
Whole Foods Stores
Over the years, there have been a scale up in the traffic seen with Whole Foods stores. This was noticed only after the acquisition as well as lower pricing of some selected items. However, vendors, distributors and brokers have sent no reports showing that they are dissatisfied with the internal operational changes. Complaints about the availability and quality of organic produce on the store shelves are becoming quite disturbing and these complaints are received mainly from the Whole Foods shoppers.
Whole Foods Management
There is currently no evidence to indicate a positive change from the perspectives of shoppers or the grocery ecosystem. There are only indications to show that a hands off approach to Whole Foods management was adopted by Amazon as they continue with the implementation of operational initiatives even before acquisition takes place.
Major grocery retailers are already announcing their significant investments into technology. This is with the aim of combating Amazon’s scour for food to their territory. The likes of Kroger have already started to court smaller, regional product brands threatened by Whole Foods abandonment. This may be a good development for nonindustrial food manufacturers, when and if it materializes.
Analysis you would find are only focused on the impact of the Whole Foods changes on publicly traded companies. There are only few write ups about how the food brokers, independent groceries, demo agencies, small batch product manufacturers and merchandisers are affected by the changes. In fact, there are only evidence to show that there is lower foot traffic as well brand promotional activities on the store floors of the aforementioned. However, many grocers we spoke to are in denial that a small grocery eco-system will be materially affected. And that is a mistake.
Thanks to Jeff Bezos's relentless focus on the quality of customer experience, i.e. long term sustainability of Amazon business, everyone assumes that the acquisition will produce some magical result and force a major change in how we buy our food. So far this "earthquake" is yet to produce a tsunami of change. Amazon does not always succeed, but it succeeds most of the time. Change now. Before you have to.
The small and independent grocers can obviously not compete with bigger technological investments, rather they can mobilize partners within their ecosystem to provide a better and more personal experience to their shoppers. This should be their prime focus because Whole Foods sidelines their trade partners who helped them to become successful, independent grocers could use this opportunity to forge closer alliances to provide more engaging shopping experience in their stores.