Store sampling is the best method for improving customer experience in retail. Why is it so difficult for retailers to host them in volume?
One day while driving, I noticed one of my tires was losing air. I stopped at the gas station to pump it up, but they did not offer an air pump facility. As I continued to drive very slowly, a passing truck driver offered to pump my tire free of charge. Instead of taking advantage of this opportunity, I declined, saying I was too busy to accept his offer because I was looking for a tire shop to fix my tire. This little story is a metaphor for brick-and-mortar retailers who, while looking at declining sales per square foot like air escaping from the tire, decline or ignore product vendors' offers to host sampling events in their stores. These retailers are too busy recruiting employees to increase store performance while complaining about the cost of labor, but they’re refusing free help from their vendors to achieve the same goal without incurring any expense. Most retail executives I spoke to believe it is very easy for their vendors to coordinate store sampling events in their stores. This belief is not supported by the reality of vendors' field marketing teams - is it a retail marketing myth?
To find the truth, we first need to look at the current state of most retailers’ efforts when it comes to in-store product demonstrations. Many top retail executives are aware of the power of store sampling and product demo showcase events as an effective marketing strategy. Unfortunately, some fail to grasp just how much work is required to create a successful event that will increase sales. For some retailers, in-store demos are good marketing ideas, but that’s just about where the effort stops. Retail managers tend to ignore vendors’ requests to stage store demo events because they’re busy and find that the process is time-consuming, even if they believe they can rely on a vendor to handle the event. In cases where someone at a retail location does actually try to handle tasks like scheduling, inventory checks and other important aspects of presenting a store demo, the plans either fall apart quickly or the planning runs into problem after problem. This can be frustrating to say the least, and the truth is that it’s not even the retailer’s fault in many cases - there are just too many moving parts. No matter how perfectly you plan everything out, you have other obligations and responsibilities which means you can’t always dedicate 100% of your time to coordinating and managing a successful store sampling showcase. On the rare occasions when store managers do try to take on event management, many are surprised to find out just how time-consuming and challenging it can be to plan and manage the details.
In a perfect world, hiring more employees would be the answer, but in reality, the costs associated with hiring along with the time and resources needed to hire can be too much. This is especially true in times of economic uncertainty or in labor markets where candidates are seeking more compensation than what’s available. Even if it were economically viable to bring on new hires to help with store event planning, you would still find that coordination and management are huge time investments that require dedicated solutions.
The real myth that exists in retail is that vendors can handle the planning and management of in-store events easily. Relying on a vendor to provide resources to make events run smoother should be a consideration, but in order to fully take advantage of the no-cost assistance being offered by vendors, you need to have the time and resources to coordinate with your vendor. You may, however, become your own worst enemy in this regard. At issue is the matter of getting your store aligned with the vendor’s schedule and resources. This is where things can become difficult, and the time it takes to coordinate with a vendor on your own can take your attention away from customer service and other important aspects of your day-to-day responsibilities. Even those retailers who accept marketing assistance from their product vendors make it painfully difficult to produce quality events in their stores. The lack of coordination between retail employees, vendor field marketing staff and product distributors causes a waste of valuable marketing funds and selling opportunities. Most retailers are not aware of the challenges involved in communication when vendors are involved in managing in-store demos. In numerous conversations I’ve had with retail executives, they have always been surprised to hear that vendors consider communications to be some of the biggest issues that make working with retailers difficult. At the top of the list of challenges, surprisingly, is simply getting a retail store manager on the phone. If you work in retail, you understand that your time is limited since your day is always so busy, but vendors still point to this as a key challenge. They refused to believe that product vendors often spend over 45 minutes trying to schedule just a single in-store demo. To make matters more complicated, store buyers or floor managers aren’t always notified by their management about the scheduled store sampling event. Close to 27% of scheduled in-store demo events are canceled by retailers when a vendor’s brand ambassador shows up because the store’s floor managers are surprised to see them or because they do not have enough product inventory on hand to sell. In such cases, the product vendor incurs administrative and labor costs of the canceled demo anyway but has no increase in product sales to show for it. Meanwhile, the retailer is wasting a valuable opportunity to build loyalty with its shoppers and increase sales per square foot paid by the vendor.
A simple and immediate solution to this problem is using an automated store demo management platform that would allow vendors’ field management personnel to request desired date and time of the proposed in-store sampling event online. Combined with data capture for all necessary information for the store’s approval, an automated store demo management platform makes it easy to cover all of the details, saving time and money for retailers. A store demo management platform like Demo Wizard uses intelligent workflows that take care of all planning and management details along with notifications for the people accountable for delivering an excellent customer experience for shoppers. In doing so, these shoppers will reciprocate by buying promoted products and talking about their experience with other consumers. That is how word-of-mouth marketing works in the real world, where vendors and retailers work as partners to sell more per square foot by bringing more customers into the store. These customers then spend more time shopping and enjoying sampling events while visiting more often. When you automate your store demo management, the process of coordinating with vendors becomes seamless, and the number of resources your store needs to devote to planning and management of an in-store event is greatly diminished. An automation solution allows you to step out of your own way to take advantage of the resources a vendor has to offer without the need to coordinate all of the steps in excruciating detail yourself. In addition, automating the processes of store demo planning and management often means your store spends less while having to juggle fewer resources. No need to hire more employees and no need to increase labor spend to coordinate schedules and inventory. Automation solutions like Demo Wizard can reduce labor, improve productivity and ensure that vendor communication and resources are properly managed when staging in-store sampling events. This takes the stress and pressure off of your shoulders while still allowing your retail location to enjoy the benefits provided by vendor partnerships in staging product demo events.
Demo Wizard has CPG brands waiting to showcase their products at store sampling events. These events can generate the aforementioned word of mouth marketing and customer experiences your store is after. By turning to Demo Wizard, you don't have to spend the time or resources to find quality CPG brands to get shoppers in the door. Additionally, you can rely on Demo Wizard to assist in matching your store with brand ambassadors, freeing up your time while ensuring that your store's sampling events are staffed by professionals who understand the value of customer experience. Demo Wizard's automated retail marketing solution takes the hassle out of planning and managing in-store demos and boosts productivity. When you automate your scheduling, you have more time to devote to other marketing aspects of your store that can improve sales per square foot. You also have more attention to invest in fostering the customer experiences created by field marketing events. So, is it a myth that retail store demos can be easily planned and managed through vendors? Yes, because without an automated retail marketing solution, your store will never be able to reach its full potential in delivering customer experiences shoppers expect in the modern retail environment. It’s also a myth that your store doesn’t need to rely on marketing ideas like store demos as today’s shoppers are looking for something more to keep them coming in the door. Demo Wizard makes it easy to provide the experiences shoppers demand consistently without having to waste valuable resources to deliver.
If you want to make it easier to coordinate with vendors by automating store demo event planning and management, contact Demo Wizard today. Schedule your consultation by calling (510) 859-8919, or click https://demo-wizard.appointlet.com/ now to reach Demo Wizard online.