The Current Challenges of Merchandising

Merchandisers play a key role in food and beverage sales. Although almost invisible to consumers,  it’s their job to stock shelves and showcase goods in order to optimize sales. They are the frontline fighters in the battle for shelf space.

However, merchandisers spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with the impact of late deliveries. We know this because our customers have told us so over the last few years.

For these reasons, we have just brought to market the FourKites Merchandiser Solution, part of FourKites Mobile Manager app, to give merchandisers, vendors, carriers and retailers the important information they need to work more efficiently.

To better understand the value of this solution, let’s imagine what a typical soda merchandiser’s week might look like without this new FourKites capability.

A dispatcher contacts a merchandiser, Jane, the day before deliveries are due and gives her a driver’s itinerary and expected arrival times at her stores. Jane heads to the first store on the list the next day. Her job is to make sure the soda that arrives at her store quickly arrives at its destination.

The next day arrives and the driver is late. Maybe he had to go a different way because traffic was bad. Maybe he had a mechanical breakdown. Perhaps the loading dock at his last stop was slow. So instead of going in order from Stores 1 through 6, the driver might first go to Store 2, then 5, then 4 and so on.

The results are predictable: Jane has to decide what to do, now that the driver is a no-show. Should she wait for the truck – perhaps she has backroom inventory she can stock while she waits – or leave for the next store? Either way, it throws off her schedule, as she is not promptly informed when the driver deviates from the planned schedule and has no real-time information to help her logically rearrange her day.

Store Manager Bob is impacted, too. He asks Jane when the shipment will arrive, or – if she’s at another store – when she will be at his store to help them break down pallets and get goods onto the shelves. Jane has no answer for him.

Finally, the soda company now runs a higher risk of stockouts, a higher per-unit operating cost and lost revenue from cases waiting to be placed on the shelves.

The Benefits of FourKites’ Merchandising Solution

FourKites’ new Merchandiser solution is designed specifically to prevent this type of breakdown. By giving the power of real-time supply chain visibility to everyone who needs it, the app lets merchandisers track shipment locations in real time, and it gives continuously updated ETAs so merchandisers can spend more time re-stocking shelves and managing resources instead of waiting for late shipments or dashing from store to store. The solution also enables messaging with the driver, keeps a record of all past deliveries and provides ETAs for the next day’s shipments.

Merchandising supervisors and managers can also gather data from the app so they can have fact-based performance conversations with their retail customers. In addition, our solution gives managers a clear idea of which stores need more attention, and serves as a clear indicator for continuous improvement.

Back-office management teams gain valuable insights, too, in the form of arrival and departure performance, as well as dwell time and delays. The solution gives them seamless customer collaboration, and the ability to share notifications, user messages and URLs as needed.

At FourKites, we are continually focused on working with our customers to leverage real-time visibility to shed light on previously dark areas of their supply chain. Now, Jane and her fellow merchandisers can free themselves from all of the “Where’s my truck?” inefficiencies and devote more time to driving business value for their companies and customers.

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