How Glow Helps Retailers Stay on the Top Shelf

Ally Feiam By Ally Feiam | 08 Jul 2019

Every retailer has a blindspot, and Glow is set to help change that. We had a chat with Glow’s CEO and Founder, Tim Clover, to discuss the importance of product placement and why retailers should embrace change.

As many in-store retailers are aware, the placement of a product can help determine the overall success of sales. Glow is a customer engagement platform that aids in retailers accessing ‘blindspots’ and connect to customers.

When Tim Clover began Glow, he had seen many large businesses investing heavily in consumer data that was small retailers saw out of their price range. Moreover, consumers wanted to get more involved in the overall retail and business decision-making process. ” We joined the dots to start to create a platform that was easy and low cost for any business to get moving with, and that made it easier for consumers (customers and staff, too) to have more of an impact,” explained Tim Clover the CEO and Founder of Glow.

What Importance is there with Product Placement in Stores?

“Shelf position is critical on a number of levels. Let’s say you’re in a store looking for something to eat for lunch. You either know what you’re looking for, or you’re browsing. Humans browse by scanning and then focussing,” Clover said.

“We look at a number of cues such as prices, labels and displays when we browse. Items from waist to head height get the most you-time. So that’s the scanning level (or planogram, as it’s called in stores). Then, we may be looking for a particular category of product. That means we need to find our way to the category (scanning shelves all the way most likely, picking up impulse items along the way). Once we find the category we’re looking for, say ‘ready meals’, we take a look at the different types available based on our core drivers – things like portion size, brand, price, quality, freshness. These are usually grouped together into competitive sets or (for some brands) they are grouped by brand in blocks. If you’re looking for a category, then brands that are prominent and in your consideration set (think brand health from awareness to loyal, consideration is second in the funnel) are likely to win. If I was looking for ready meals then the occasion is a mealtime. This is the occasion level of shelf position, but it’s more about how the shelf is organised and which category you’re in. We’ll come back to this.

“Now, consider you’re in a store in the morning. You may not be getting lunch specifically, but you’re there to get some bits and you haven’t got lunch sorted. Are you likely to head to the ready meals section? Therefore, is placement or organisation of that category important? No, because you’re not associating the retailer with fulfilling a later lunch requirement. But if you’re looking for some bits to stock up at home, Eg. canned tuna, you will head to the relevant aisles to get what you need. Then, when you’re there you start scanning. If, while scanning, you come across a great product that will sort lunch out for you, suddenly you’ve got a solution to a problem later (Eg. what to eat for lunch) that you don’t need to think about later. So you buy the tuna and the lunch option. And you’ve made your life easier. And this is the solution level which makes you feel great because it’s unplanned, but it solves a real problem for you. It’s also associated with impulse buys where we pick stuff up we don’t really need, but we’re consumers so we like to stock up and consume.

“So how important is shelf position? In the example above, it’s about making sure you’re able to solve the problem for more people. And there are more people buying tuna each day that might want lunch (we all eat lunch) than there are that go to the supermarket just looking for lunch options. The brand in its category that extends the scope of purchases by using its brand effectively in other occasions has the consumer in a clean, uncluttered headspace. The brand isn’t competing with anyone else for lunch. It’s got a home run on that occasion just by upselling a solution. These are the nuances of shelf space that brands need to explore carefully before negotiating their position in store with retailers.

What’s the Difference Between Online Product Placement and Brick-and-Mortar Product Placement?

“There’s a big difference between online placement and bricks and mortar placement. Consider the way we scan a mobile phone vs the 360 sensory experience we get in a store. Placement on a device’s screen is about clarity and the right hierarchy of information to lead the consumer through a very clearly defined set of steps.

You want to take someone from completely unaware of your product or brand to seeing maybe an image and three to six words, to then gradually unwrapping your value proposition over the next 3-15 seconds to then making it easy for them to take some action – i.e., purchase. Compare this to an in-store experience where there’s a lot more going on. The human experience needs to be unpicked in consideration of its context. One rule is always true – to convert a sale you need to maintain engagement and reduce friction,” explained Clover.

The Upcoming Trends that Are Going to Change the Retail Sector in 12 Months

“The channel mix, as well as the integration of technology through the experience is moving ridiculously quickly at the moment, so ‘trends’ are really hard to call. I’d expect to see more developments in click/collect type fulfilment models where removing the barriers to purchase and fulfil orders are proving growth opportunities – though this will probably be something that’ll take three to five years to develop,” said Clover.

“We’re seeing consumers are really looking for retailers to take more of a stance across ethical and environmental issues they care about, so I’d expect to see less packaging, more supply chain information and that retailers that invest in these areas to win consumer loyalty in a big way. In terms of ‘change vs enhancements’ – it can be best to think of it in terms of ‘strategic vs tactical’ investments. For example, what big-ticket initiatives do we need to invest in to meet the future aspirations of our customers (strategic change), and what are the current opportunities we have on a daily basis to improve our existing performance and enhance our processes, systems and customer systems (tactical enhancements). You can’t answer either of those questions without truly understanding your customer/ market. This is part of the reason we set up Glow. We have access to over 800,000 consumers that businesses can tap into to find strategic vs tactical opportunities to improve/ invest.”

Clover sees an important role that Robotic Process Automation can play in the retail sector in the future. “It’s important to make sure that where people are involved in retail processes, they add clear and demonstrable value to the experience of the customer. The retail sector employs a large portion of the workforce, so this is a big economic and societal risk – a lot needs to be done from an industry governance perspective to make sure that people aren’t left out in the cold without adequate opportunities to transfer skills into new areas,” he explained.

The Importance of Sharing Data Through the Supply Chain

“One of the biggest mistakes any supply chain can make is to sit on data that could enhance the end customer experience. It thwarts innovation, kills efficiency and is really damaging to industries – if you innovate ‘blind’ then you’re a failure statistic waiting to happen. Retailers should make more data available to manufacturers at a lower cost. Manufacturers should commit to improving their brands and category offerings by further understanding the shopper better in return,” explained Clover.

In Five Years, Where Will Online Retail and Brick-and-Mortar Sit?

“There will be more integration between the online and offline (bricks and mortar) experience, and more opportunities to browse in a physical environment before having an item delivered to your home.,” Clover said.

“With the introduction of new models for delivery (Eg. drones), the item might even be at home before you are. I envisage a future where stores hold only demo stock – stock that humans interact with before ordering for delivery/ fulfilment. This could radically change the way items are sold – to the extent that you could meet a rep who already has an item that you take a look at, then scan to buy and ship instantly. In that way, any human could become a retailer, in a sense, and pop-up stores could be more agile and profitable. Either way, I’d expect to see less stock shipped around the country until someone’s committed to buying it, and the interplay between the digital experience and the bricks and mortar one being very important to success. Obviously, the importance of bricks-and-mortar experiences (sensory experiences) will vary by category and ‘newness’ of brands – but shopper models are evolving at such a rate that I’d definitely expect some big changes in the next five years that could be transformational for retail.”

“Change always seems quite confronting, but it’s a lot easier with data as there is less guesswork and that means that navigating uncertain futures becomes less risky,” Clover continued. “Most good leaders make good decisions with good data. There are a variety of new ways to get your hands on good consumer and shopper data these days, so in a way, technology is both the disruptor of retail but also holds a lot of the answers in the form of access to data too.”

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