Suppliers and retailers are bracing for a strong holiday shopping season. Positive analysis from the National Retail Federation combined with an early Thanksgiving are paving the way for big fourth quarter profits.
Increased customer traffic means more employees needed on the sales floor. To keep their stores focused, most retailers enforce a “communication blackout” between October and the end of December. Fewer directives during this time give the employees more time to execute holiday plans and help customers.
While most suppliers see the value in a communication blackout, some struggle with issues during the holiday:
- Verifying product is received and set
- Ensuring features are on the floor
- Researching low and zero sales
Suppliers are bound by the communication blackout, but Movista makes it possible to direct field associates during the holiday. We recently visited with Jez Green and Mike Edwards on an 8th & Walton Conference Call podcast to find out more about communicating remotely during this critical time.
What Is a Retail Communication Blackout?
For new suppliers, it’s important to understand why retailers insist on cutting back communication drastically during the fourth quarter. We asked Jez about the initiative from the retailers’ perspective.
“The fourth quarter for the majority of retailers is their golden quarter,” he begins. “They’re going to make more sales in that single quarter than the other three put together. It’s really more than a communications blackout; it’s more of a change moratorium. They protect that golden quarter by not introducing new processes and systems. They want things to run as smooth and stably as possible. That’s why they have the blackout period.”
Communicating During the Blackout
Suppliers have mixed emotions about the retailers’ communication blackout policy. While there is an understanding of keeping store employees focused, work still has to be done and verified. We asked Mike how Movista enables suppliers to communicate with their store support quickly during the blackout.
“Most everything that’s going to happen in the fourth quarter has already been decided,” Mike explains. “But our solution allows suppliers to send down that information to the field at the store level. The reps for the supplier go into the store, check in, and the project is right there for them. They have the instructions for the project and everything they need to execute at the highest level.”
Tasks Completed, or Simply Checked Off the List?
While Movista has a great platform for sending direction during the communication blackout, we were curious how they verify the work is actually being done. Anyone can send a task request electronically. However, without physically walking into a store, how can a supplier be sure the project was completed versus the field rep simply checking a box to get off the list?
“We call that ‘knowing is good!'” Mike says. “Verification is important for the supplier as well as the retailer. As projects are sent down and executed through the Movista platform, there are questions the rep has to answer regarding the execution. We also have GPS verification to ensure the rep is in the location of the project.
“Along with that, photo verification is really strong,” he continues. “Those photos come back and you’re not only able to see the project has been done, but that the execution was at a high rate. You may see that the rep did the project, but it wasn’t done completely or accurately. You’re now able to send the project back out to the store with instructions for the rep to go back in and make adjustments. This gives the supplier the highest rate of execution.”
Holiday Execution Is only the Beginning for Movista
Supporting suppliers through the busy holiday season is only a small part of Movista’s focus. The company has more great things rolling out in 2019 to make execution more efficient for its clients.
“Our focus has always been on simplifying the life of the rep,” Jez illustrates. “But also enlightening the life of the management teams. That won’t change in 2019.
“We will continue to support managing items and merchandise with respect to ordering, auditing, and tracking. We’ll also provide a mobile solution for management to allow them to know who is in their store, where they’re from, and what they’re doing. We’re also working on the ability to provide instant feedback and potentially tie it into rewards and recognition.”
Getting Started to Get Communicating
As we continued our conversation with Mike and Jez, we asked about Movista’s ability to get a supplier up and running on their platform. They explained that, depending on the depth and complexity of features or applications requested, suppliers can leverage any of more than 20 fully-documented APIs offered by Movista to start communicating to their field reps in as little as one week.
For complete details on how Movista can support your business during the communication blackout (as well as all year!), visit their website. To hear our entire interview with Jez and Mike, click here to listen to the full podcast.