Retail and Managed Service Provider: Connect to Win
by David Tovissi
Should a retailer consider using a managed service provider to augment existing retail teams within the stores?
As retail continues to evolve and the need to be nimble and flexible becomes even more important, retailers should be looking at managed solution partners to help them succeed.
Why partner with a managed service provider?
Managed service providers (MSPs) or third-party labor companies, are often used by manufacturers, present within a retailer, to help them sell through certain products. The activities normally employed by the service providers include:
Benefits for the brands
The brands can expect a positive return on their investment with MSPs, when they are able to have the right person in the right store at the right time with the right activities and message. They typically have a budget for these types of activities to help them grow share or sales of their key products.
Can the retailer benefit too?
If a manufacturer can expect a positive return on the investment with an MSP, why shouldn’t a retailer expect similar results? The answer is that they can and should expect similar results—if they partner with a provider company who puts the retailer’s culture and desired customer experience first on their list of deliverables.
Many of today’s retailers are going through a retail transformation. They are starting to utilize technology to connect with their customers more, because they believe that is how the customer prefers to engage with them.
Digital touches versus the human kind
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that digital touch points are effective, but they will never outperform a human touch point with a customer. As retailers consider the best way to engage with their customers, they should consider a managed service provider for the following services:
Launch New Products and Services
As manufacturers continue to develop new products for consumers they often partner with retailers to help them launch new products. In many cases, the retailer accepts the challenge because they want to be the first to launch a new product or they are diversifying into a new category and need to drive awareness.
Some retailers prefer to test new categories to better understand the personnel requirements and the ROI ratio prior to investing in long-term employees. This is a smart strategy, but difficult to execute with internal resources. When a retailer tries to use internal resources for these endeavors this could be a distraction to their core business that offsets any positive gains they received from being the first to launch.
I am not suggesting that retailers should keep their head in the sand and not be the company that launches new products and services. However, I am suggesting that it might make sense for them to partner with the manufacturer and a MSP to help them launch them. The MPS will work with the brand and the retailer to determine the right messaging to the customer, and will determine the right times to be at the retailer to convey that message.
The provider company will work with store managers to insure that the products are working, priced correctly, and in stock for them to sell directly to their customers.
Why is this a better solution than the retailer doing it themselves?
Less disruption to their core business
Ability to leverage the best practices of MPS and vendor
Speed to market
Improve the customer experience and sales
Often retailers have certain products or services that are considered stable or declining, but something that their customers expect them to carry. In many cases, the lack of focus by the retailer who sells these types of products will result in lower margins and poor customer experiences.
By leveraging a MSP to augment the retailer’s existing staff, they can set higher sales and customer satisfaction goals, and achieve them faster and more efficiently than if they shift resources or understaff and under support these products.
Why will the MSP out execute a retailer’s existing staff?
Laser focus on the category
Merchandise will be priced correctly and working
Customer insights will drive better decision making in the future for the retailer
Demo Products or Services
This is something the warehouse clubs have done very well. They have partnered with companies to engage, educate and sell their products directly to their members.
It should be noted that some members go to the club just to see what’s new and appreciate the demonstrations occurring. There has also been a landslide of new products coming onto the market that would really benefit from greater consumer exposure and interaction in order for the consumer to understand why they would need it.
Brick and mortar retailers must find new ways to keep bringing customers to their stores. Product demonstrations are something that could differentiate them and help them grow sales in their stores.
In most cases, the manufacturers will want to use their own field reps. Often, those reps do not have credibility and relationships in the market and may not be trained on the layout of the store or the customer shopping policies. When that happens, the demonstrations could be a detriment to sales.
By having a trusted partner to perform the demonstrations for their vendors or suppliers, the retailer can expect the following benefits:
Better customer experience that is aligned to the retailer’s culture
Instant credibility and consistent sales performance
Faster speed to productivity with better planning and logistics
There are many other reasons why a retailer should consider using a MSP to augment their current retail staff. For those who want to learn more, please check out our website at MarketSource.com. We’d like to give you more information tailored to your solution needs. Please reach out to us here to continue the conversation.
MarketSource designs and delivers innovative and proven sales and marketing solutions to more than 200 companies worldwide. For more than 40 years, both mid-sized and large firms have trusted us to accelerate their revenue growth. Our one-of-a-kind, relationship-based approach is why our clients continue to rely on us to help drive sales to new heights.
MarketSource experts can hire, train and deploy both inside and field sales and marketing teams in just weeks, resulting in maximized coverage, elevated brand representation, improved customer experience and increased sales.
Our comprehensive approach to understanding our clients’ businesses combined with our proprietary tools and methodologies and our practiced and proven execution, have helped our clients identify and achieve their objectives while leveraging every dollar to improve return on investment.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Tovissi has spent over 30 years working in or supporting the retail industry, and has held senior executive positions at national and locally owned retailers. He has consulted with many suppliers and retailers on new products and services introduced to the US marketplace for the past 20 years, and currently is a subject matter expert at MarketSource working with retailers and manufactures that want to improve their sales directly to consumers.
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