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Push for greater compliance hots up

Confused about how well you’re really managing in-store compliance? You’re not alone. CJ Retail Solutions helps to give you the lowdown on why it matters.

Over the years, brands have routinely grappled with in-store campaigns that deliver fewer than expected sales. In an attempt to up their game, eyes turned toward investing huge sums in insights to better understand what shoppers want. Yet many have still failed to capitalise on what, arguably, is one of the easiest targets in town – compliance.
Put simply, compliance is about getting basic retail standards right: product availability, visibility, pricing, functional performance and brand presentation. We have been working with major high street brands in the UK for the past 20 years to deliver just that. Our work is not about creating a new store environment or devising hugely expensive marketing campaigns in-store. Instead, it’s focused on asking questions like, 'does the display work’; ‘is the brand’s presence being correctly maintained in-store’; and ‘why should good ever be accepted as being good enough’. This isn’t a strategy that involves lots of additional capital expenditure. As the saying goes – work smarter, not harder.

The issue of compliance has long been around. Almost a decade ago, industry association POPAI UK & Ireland conducted a survey that put in-store compliance at less than 50 per cent of displays – a pitifully low percentage. In an industry worth an estimated £1.65 billion a year that’s a lot of waste. The implications of getting it wrong are quite simple, if a display is not performing as intended both sales and brand equity will suffer. To add insult to injury, this also has consequences in terms of wasted money spent on support activity.
Seizing the advantage in a highly competitive marketplace calls for a do-it-now, do-it-better mentality. With every penny invested in an in-store campaign needing to count, display compliance needs to be at the top of every retailer and brand’s agenda. It was Albert Einstein who described the definition of insanity "as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". It’s the same story with brand delivery in-store; problems that cause low levels of retail compliance, if not corrected, will continue and retail performance will never fulfil its true potential.
Significantly, many believe that retail compliance issues are largely restricted to grocery retailers and temporary P-O-P. That is far from the truth, with brands across every retail sector equally at risk. Recently, CJ Retail Solutions has been working on a major compliance initiative with technology brand, Samsung. As part of the technology brand’s aggressive retail growth strategy, it understands the commercial value of getting it right and is determined to win out in-store through best practice in-store implementation.
Arguably, the greatest challenge to compliance is achieving visibility. Most brands, and indeed stores, believe they execute better than they actually do. For many, it’s not a case of failing to recognise the importance of compliance, but rather possessing the misguided belief that every display will perform as it is intended too, based on what was sign-off at head office, without any further intervention being required throughout the duration of its life in-store. As retail implementation experts, we know that best practice retail standards do not come as standard. They require hard work, investment in time and dedication to achieving ‘the look’ – across every store, every day. As if to illustrate the point, we recently attended a meeting at a prospective client’s head office. With a few minutes to spare, having arrived early, we took the opportunity to walk around the corner to a retailer stocking their brand. On entering the store, we were greeted by a pristine, good quality display. Clearly huge sums had been invested to creating a compelling retail presence and turn shoppers into buyers. Yet disappointingly, several elements of the display were not turned on or functioning, due to technical faults. Left un-reported and broken, the display would continue to create a negative impression of the brand and undoubtedly lead to lost sales. And all this in a store that was just a few hundred yards away from the brand’s head office. It’s symptomatic of the challenges that many face, with marketers requiring the knowledge and skills of implementation professionals in order to get an insight into what’s really happening in stores up and down the country and, more importantly, to put things right.
In short, brands can only be profitable from being efficient, and they can only achieve efficiency by being effective. That means being best placed to routinely do the right things and having a ruthless commitment to both getting the details right and basic housekeeping in order to reinforce the brand’s in-store presence. We recommend detailed scheduling, which we deliver for brands like Samsung, to ensure existing displays are maintained to a high standard at all times and to provide ongoing value for money from in-store maintenance budgets.
So give careful consideration to getting your brand presence in-store right and avoid the average, mediocre compliance rates that are still commonplace amongst brands without an effective implementation strategy in place. Samsung has, and it’s an example that other brands would do well to follow. We promise that your Board, your shareholders and, most importantly, your shoppers will thank you for it.