Image recognition for retail execution
09 June 2021 by Rashmi Rao

Take Complete Control Of Your Store Shelves Through Image Recognition!

When delighting your in-store customers, all roads must lead through the supply chain, creative store fulfillment, and better management of store shelves. While AI has given a distinctive advantage to your supply chain, Image recognition will ensure that your products are flying off the shelves!

The art of in-store selling is straightforward; provide the right products to the right customers, at the right place and time, better than all of your competitors. Store execution isn't any more complicated than that - but that doesn't mean it's easy.

Poor execution practices and non-compliance by retailers cost manufacturers approximately $3.7 million every year with a slip of 3% to 5% in annual sales!

Turning the bottom line from red to black requires a combination of many little details finely executed - Product availability, location, positioning of promotional displays and advertising, correct pricing, and other details that impact your store execution performance.

In-store execution, the plan is simple,  execution is the challenge

Manufacturers and retailers live in different worlds. 

When you sit out of your office, you have very little visibility of what happens when the product reaches its final destination of the supply chain - the store shelf.  

Your supply chain and retail execution can be exhaustive. But landing into your customers shopping bags is a different ball game and anything that can go wrong will go wrong. That's why getting a lot of details right becomes crucial and addressing a myriad of other conditions that influence your customers to make a purchase. 

What you can't see, you can't fix

Until now, a Field Rep or a Merchandizer has always been the designated interface between the two siloed factions (manufacturers and stores). A field rep's primary responsibility was to manually collect relevant in-store data and keep an eye out on competitor trails.

With the dearth of tools and technology, manufacturers depended on manual-store audits to gather relevant data. This proved to be inconsistent, inaccurate, and time-consuming. With your burgeoning need to expand product portfolio  across categories and geographies, manual store audits limit your potential.

So lack of visibility and transparency is a frustrating problem. Moreover, lack of accuracy in manually collected data renders very little confidence in decision-making. 

The new dawn of Smart retail: AI and Image Recognition for better shelf management

AI, ML, and Image Recognition technology have come a long way to offer tangible value to your retail business. Through the synergy of  Computer Vision and AI-powered image recognition, manufacturers can see where and how their shipments are stacked on the retail shelves.

Image recognition platforms constitute of three systems; 

  1. In-Store automation involves taking just a few pictures of your store shelves either through a mobile application or a low-form factor camera placed securely onto the store shelves. 
  2. Deep Learning Algorithms that parse captured images and decodes visual data. 
  3. In-store execution analytics that pools all the data derived from thousands of in-store images and delivers intelligent shelf-level and store-level metrics, made available to you on a single dashboard accessible anywhere. 

How can you improve your on-shelf performance? 

"You can't expect to win sales if you don't know why you lose it."

Image recognition can help you track critical shelf metrics that help you determine the performance of your sales execution.

Monitor store shelves in real-time using image recognition
  • Improve SKU visibility - Preventing stock-outs on the shelf and ensuring that your SKUs are always available optimally is crucial to improving sales. The higher your brand presence and higher the availability of your products, the better the chances of customers finding your products on the shelf. You can accurately track and monitor On-Shelf-Availability and Share-of-Shelf at an SKU or Brand level in real-time.
  • Display compliance checks - A lot of assumptions are made when launching a new promotion at the stores. On-time execution of retail displays can impact your sales objective. If your stores do not comply, you not only waste your retailer spends but also lose out on opportunities. How do retailers or stores position and showcase your promotional displays to customers? With image recognition, you can easily conduct compliance checks for violations at any moment and easily identify and flag stores that violate display guidelines. 
  • Planogram compliance checks - You understand the importance of managing your retail shelf space. If you don't manage it, someone else will. Correct planogram implementation ensures that your customers can conveniently discover your products on the shelf. It also reduces tock replenishment costs and inventory holding. After all, the merchandise does not sell sitting in a stock room - it gets ignored, lost, or damaged. 
  • Competitive intelligence - You will always have competitors at every turn, your customers will make sure of that. Understanding what your competitors are doing in-store can be crucial information to build better winning retail strategies. You can track and compare your On-shelf availability and Share of Shelf against your competitor's product assortments present on the same retail shelves. 

Better shelf management, improved in-store sales!

Regularly, fixing execution errors and better managing your store shelves can drastically improve your SKU visibility inside stores. Image Recognition platforms can give tangible business value such as; 

  •  Sales lift of 2% to 4% in each store
  • Better optimization of your store payouts and performance metrics to  incentivize compliant stores
  • More than half the amount of time saved in gathering in-store data as compared to manual audits 
  • Higher accuracy in data, hence more confidence in retail decision making 
  • Higher frequency of data collected results in better store fulfillment based on  changing demand 
  • Cover more stores and gather in-store data more frequently across hundreds and thousands of stores easily 

Nothing is more important than transparency and visibility across your supply chain and your store-level sales execution. How do customers see your products on the shelf?  How can Image recognition and AI provide better control of your store execution? How do you bring AI and store automation into your supply chain that allows you to make assured, repeatable, and data-driven decisions?

With the willingness to leverage AI-tech, manufacturers can not only set the stage for significant sales improvement at every store but also reach beyond their final destination of the retail supply chain - The hearts and minds of their customers!


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