The scheduling and reporting of Blueprint field activity is managed via a bespoke online facility developed within IMA, called Prism. Through the Prism system, Blueprint administrators at IMA are able to log retailer nominations, manage the retailer validation process and record information on retailer profiles, stock profiles and visit activity.
In the field, all Blueprint merchandisers are equipped with a 3G-enabled laptop computer. Using bespoke Prism software and wireless technology, merchandiser laptops are synchronised with the online Prism database each evening, to upload results data to the centralised database, and to download new visit requirements, changes to recommended stock profiles and other ad hoc survey details.
The Prism reporting system is accessible via the Internet using standard web browser software to offer global accessibility. The facility is fully password protected and user access is managed at screen and data levels. This means that administrators are able to limit each user to a specific selection of screens (reports etc) and the data available through these screens can also be restricted, subject to the “ownership” of individual retailer records.
Prism operates under licence for key projects to ensure maximum accessibility to project data and to provide a dynamic and flexible mechanism through which client and suppliers can communicate and exchange project information.
Prior to organising any visit, the retailer is contacted by IMA’s scheme management to ascertain fixture size etc. At this stage IMA can assess whether the outlet is suitable for re-merchandising. It can also advise on the recommended stocking of brands to ensure as far as possible, that sufficient/correct ranges are in place and the time needed. Nominations are sent to the appropriate merchandiser who in turn will contact the retailer to discuss and arrange a time that is convenient to re-merchandise the store.
One retailer initially only saw a need for merchandising of ales, lagers and ciders and wines, which is why, in the example below, no assessment of spirits and ARTDs was made. However, the regional advisor discussed both spirits and ARTDs during the makeover visits and gained data and future commitment.
This is in line with the Blueprint destination strategy to improve the total off licence offering encouraging increased consumer visits. There is little point in improving one category if consumers are discouraged from using the store under a perception that the offering is not comprehensive.
The merchandiser will visit the nominated store as arranged and carry out the process of re-merchandising to all the appropriate Blueprints, training owners and staff at the same time. This call is not an “audit” or box ticking activity as performed by a conventional, non-dedicated third party quick in-and-out person, working to post codes. Every independent retailer differs – often hugely – from their counterparts. Every store has differing needs and remedies.
In store stock audit
A detailed stock audit will be taken at this point and a list of recommended brands will be left with the retailer. Once the store has been remerchandised, the appropriate information is sent back electronically to IMA for reporting and analysis via a dedicated online facility. Digital pictures are taken and all Blueprints are left so that the retailer has a visual aid they can refer to, in order to maintain their fixture.
Ten per cent of calls are followed up by IMA’s national field manager, to ensure the customer is happy with the merchandising and the help and advice they have received. The field team are also monitored to make sure that a high standard of merchandising is maintained in the most effective and efficient way possible.
Case study call backs
Based on the merchandisers’ advice and assessment, a number of stores will be nominated for case studies in which their progress after remerchandising can be monitored using EPOS data or sales out via wholesaler data.