Part 1 of 2:
Managing Brand Consistency
Helping Retailers — From Warehouse to Window Display
Peter Eberly, Director — Product and Vertical Marketing
Maintaining brand consistency across all departments — from procurement to marketing — is a growing challenge for retailers. They must cater to unique demographics and consumer preferences while staying on brand with their messaging and design across a widening array of shopping channels: online, mobile applications and physical storefronts. For example, a customer might start shopping online but then reserve an item to pick up at a physical store. No matter how they shop, their expectation is a seamless experience.
Retailers have an opportunity to improve consumers’ shopping experiences by leveraging cutting-edge technology to complement messaging and design, resulting in an integrated brand experience. This means carefully and thoughtfully managing branding from the warehouse to the window display.
This two-part series will examine four best practices that retailers can follow to achieve a more seamless brand experience. Implementing these practices can produce several benefits including leaner inventory management, greater efficiency, increased sales, improved brand message consistency, engaged consumers and reduced costs.
1: Consolidate suppliers to minimize disruption in the supply chain.
Many retailers take a decentralized approach to the creation and distribution of in-store marketing collateral, working with multiple print and logistics vendors as they seek to support 500 or even 14,000 store locations. This presents many challenges including standardization of messaging, accurately forecasting each store’s needs and managing a large volume of shipments.
Consolidating print distribution and logistics suppliers allows companies to address and mitigate these challenges. Consolidation minimizes the risks associated with marketing collateral changing hands among multiple vendors and eliminates any potential confusion at the store level. This means that store managers and associates can more easily identify materials, ensure they are displayed at the right time and place and know who to contact to replenish them. Additionally, a more centralized approach provides a scalable national platform for distribution and fulfillment while eliminating waste, improving speed to market and reducing freight costs.
2: Leverage store profiling and analytics to better understand customers’ needs and deliver the most relevant brand experience at each store location.
Employees working in a retailer’s headquarters often struggle to keep track of the distinct needs of each store location. Because individual stores have unique footprints, promotional and/or branded materials must be relevant and sometimes even customized for each location. Retailers might take the shortcut of shipping the same signage to every store, but this often leads to waste in production time and costs, waste in shipping costs and labor and confusion among store employees about what signage to display. Ultimately, it prevents stores from delivering a seamless brand experience.
By leveraging store-profiling technology, suppliers can identify each location’s specific needs such as its number and type of display fixtures, windows and doors — even the unique merchandise it offers. Implementing an online-based graphics ordering and management tool that also enables order replenishment at the store level is critical.
Additionally, it’s important to tap into forecasting data that identifies key insights around production runs. Understanding production needs allows national retailers to identify the right manufacturing mix (e.g., the production capability to handle small- to large-scale runs with store signage and supporting materials) needed to support their national, regional and market footprint. Doing so enables them to ensure the integrity of brand communications and provide operational efficiencies.
Read part two of this blog post series for additional best practices and tips on managing brand consistency.