food storeSalesforce has announced its Consumer Goods Cloud, an industry-specific product which seeks to enable consumer goods companies to drive revenue growth and maximise ROI through better retail execution. This is a tough ask.

Retail execution remains one of the most important pieces of a consumer goods brands strategy, but so much opportunity is wasted if the field rep doesn’t have the data and technology needed to make smart decisions,” said John Strain, GM and SVP, Retail and Consumer Goods at Salesforce. “Consumer Goods Cloud provides these field reps with the tools they need to be successful on the ground while helping build both business opportunities and stronger relationships with their retail partners.

Consumer goods industry and the significance of retail execution

John Strain
John Strain

Retail execution is the act (or art) of ensuring the right products reach the right stores at the right times. Achieving this is vital to the success of consumer goods businesses, not least because some 90%+ of consumer goods products sell in physical stores.

In general, consumer goods field reps are responsible for delivering product and driving brand awareness to stores. They often, however, rely on outdated systems with informal spreadsheets and paper-based reports to:

  • determine their daily travel route
  • decide where products should go in a store
  • share real-time business insights and opportunities with both their executive team and store owners.

To put this in perspective, U.S. consumer goods companies spend about $200B every year for in-store merchandising and marketing. Yet some consumer goods leaders suggest that 52% of their merchandising and marketing plans do not execute as intended in stores. The implication is that >$100B in annual trade spend lacks optimisation.

Pam Brown
Pam Brown

Execution is everything,” says Pam Brown, Chief Commercial Officer, Promotion Optimization Institute (POI).  “Teams spend substantial time planning promotions with retailers, but many are not executed as planned. The 2019 POI State of the Industry Survey notes only 29% of survey respondents agree that they have the tools they need to make appropriate decisions, and only 38% of respondents state that they are satisfied with the ability to execute at store level.  Salesforce Consumer Goods Cloud has engaged this opportunity with a platform and analytics to help manufacturers make informed decisions at the point of sale and ‘sell more’.”

Consumer Goods Cloud

Consumer Goods Cloud seeks to help consumer goods companies transform their business by:

  • providing an intelligent solution to field reps
  • streamlining operations
  • improving the in-store experiences for the end consumer.

By using Consumer Good Cloud, field reps can ensure:

  • shelves always possess stock
  • pricing and promotions align to expectations
  • less time is spent on operational activities
  • more time focuses on the building of relationships and driving sales with retail channel partners.

Consumer Goods Cloud enables field reps to:

  • improve visit planning: field reps will have access to a list of prioritised and assigned store visits for the day with required and suggested activities (and with in-app map functionality to manage routing); in addition, reps can analyse the health of their business across stores while surfacing new opportunities for their products
  • optimise visit execution: Once in a store and using a mobile device, reps will have access to customisable templates (for example, based on store or segment types) to ensure specific store needs are satisfied – from inventory and planogram checks to return order processing and surveys
  • harness Salesforce’s Einstein AI to optimise compliance and product placements: Einstein Vision for Consumer Goods Cloud delivers an image recognition and object detection solution which enables inventory, planogram and merchandising compliance checks as well as spending less time on auditing activities (and more time building relationships).

For example, a rep can:

  • take a picture of a shelf – and immediately understand if it is set up correctly without having to manually count and input the data into their system
  • through mobile order capturing capabilities, place orders during a store visit and collect data (such as product, quantity and pricing).

The combination should satisfy two objectives:

  • ensure sales reps complete all assigned tasks and report them correctly
  • provide executives with a complete view of the visit.

Salesforce partners extend the capabilities of the Consumer Goods Cloud

Salesforce’s partner ecosystem will extend the power of Consumer Goods Cloud. Consulting partners will power digital transformation for customers in the retail industry with expertise and unique capabilities, including:

  • Accenture: to compliment the Accenture Cloud TPM solution, Accenture has participated as a pilot partner for Consumer Goods Cloud, leveraging its retail execution and industry experience to provide feedback on Consumer Goods Cloud product development
  • PwC: as a design and pilot partner for Consumer Goods Cloud, PwC developed the Connected Digital Front Office solution, built on Consumer Goods Cloud; this leverages analytics to drive increased productivity and growth for companies across B2B and B2C from a single platform.

Enterprise Times: what does this mean

The Consumer Goods Cloud is part of the Salesforce Customer 360 platform. It appears to be relevant for many types of FMCG businesses, including:

  • food and beverage
  • personal care
  • health and beauty
  • and more.

The apparent Salesforce hope is that, by using the Consumer Goods Cloud, consumer goods enterprises will unlock more value via the platform. If true, consumer goods businesses will build on stronger customer engagement for both B2B and B2C commerce.

In addition, by exploiting Einstein Analytics for Consumer Goods, they will present reps with out-of-the-box KPIs – such as inventory stock outs or percent orders increase per store visit. This means AI-powered insights and recommendations specifically tailored for customers become part of the FMCG sales reps armoury of tools – all built in a cloud.

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Charles Brett is a business/technology analyst consultant. His specialist areas include enterprise software, blockchain and enterprise mobility tech (including metering). Specific industry sectors of interest and experience include finance (especially systems supporting wholesale finance), telecommunications and energy. Charles has spoken at multiple industry conferences, has written for numerous publications (including the London Times and the Financial Times). He was the General Chair of the bi-annual High Performance Systems Workshop, 2005. In addition he is an author and novelist. His Technology books include: Making the Most of Mobility Vol I (eBook, 2012); Explaining iTunes, iPhones and iPads for Windows Users (eBook, 2011); 5 Axes of Business Application Integration (2004). His published novels, in the Corruption Series, include: The HolyPhone Confessional Crisis, Corruption’s Price: A Spanish Deceit and Virginity Despoiled. The fourth in The Corruption Series - Resurrection - has is now available. Charles has a B.A. and M.A in Modern History from the University of Oxford. He has lived or worked in Italy, Abu Dhabi, South Africa, California and New York, Spain, Israel, Estonia and Cyprus.

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