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ONTRAK OVERVIEW

POS Tracking Software To Drive Growth & Value for Beverage Distributors

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OnTrak Selected as CIOReview’s Top 20 Most Promising Food and Beverage Technology Solution Providers

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FOOD & DRINK DIGITAL

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An Automated POS Tracking System Makes Your Sales Reps Look Good!

  
  
  
  

An Automated Point-of-Sale (POS) Tracking System Makes Your Sales Reps Look Good!

An Automated POS Tracking System Makes Your Sales Reps Look Good!If you are a supplier or distributor of beverage alcohol, an on-line, Point-of-Sale (POS) tracking system can and will help your sales organizations improve their performance more than ever before.  

This is true today due to the on-going acceleration of competition for not only market share but also for actual market size.

The Distributor’s Sales Function in the Beverage Alcohol Market

We have lived through a fairly prolonged period of essentially zero growth in the overall beverage alcohol market, but 2014 data seems to signal the return to at least modest growth in the total beverage alcohol market - notably beer and other malt beverages. We’ve also seen some double-digit growth in certain categories like craft beers and imports.

There has been a continued erosion of loyalties between retailers and the distributors. Part of the reason for this erosion is the accelerated turnover of Sales Reps within beer, wine and spirits distributorships. Of course, there has been similar turnover within the distributor’s customers which decreases the retailer’s need to have a “relationship” with the distributor beyond the mandatory “order taking” function.

Should this continue on the current path, it won’t be long before the “ordering function” gets transferred to an on-line function via the Internet.

The fear is we may be reaching the end of an era.

A distributor’s customers tend to buy on price alone, if given a choice. The salesperson seems to continuously do less and less actual selling and more and more inventory replenishment.

Look at it this way:

A retail customer will most likely buy from your competition, especially if the competition’s price is $2.00 less per case. The risk to the retailer in choosing one versus the other is fairly slim since retailers know that beer drinkers are quite willing to buy either Bud Light, Miller Lite or Coors Light based exclusively on the per-case price. Craft beers, so far, seem fairly immune to this phenomenon.

How Do You Track POS Today?

If you’re like the majority of distributors, you don’t track POS at all. Often sales reps when trying to get a beverage order handle POS like this:

The salesperson offers up some appropriate POS materials (signs, for the most part) to the customer to “sweeten the deal”. The rep is trying to overcome the retailer’s objections about increasing the sales order-size or winning additional “shelf space”. So how about some “free POS”.

I’m sure you can imagine your rep offering paper and/or permanent signs, displays or other point-of-sale materials to encourage the retailer to accept additional cases of both the usual and perhaps new products, too.

Typically the POS order is hastily written down on a piece of paper (including napkins) or entered into a free-format text box at the bottom of the beverage order-entry screen.  The customer is trusting that the POS from the distributor will be helpful in convincing his customers to convert from being shoppers into buyers. Your rep then thanks his customer for the order and moves onto the next customer, repeating the process.

In most cases tracking and reporting on what happened never occurs.

What’s a Distributor to Do?

As a distributor owner or marketing executive you need to call upon every system, every tool and every approach you can to gain, grow and retain a competitive advantage. When your reps are in the market, they should be equipped with the latest and greatest weapons of beverage sales and marketing.

You already know that a computerized ordering system is one of your weapons in enabling the sales function. Now you need to bring another weapon to bear in that critical moment when your sales rep works to increase his average revenue or case equivalent sales per customer.

Now is the time to take a look at POS Tracking Software. What you do next could have a huge impact on what you can actually “sell” to your customers.

The Case for POS Tracking

Based on our 7-years of experience working with beverage distributors, your reps’ signage requests are, on average, incorrectly translated into a sign or display that has to be re-worked. On average each rep will generate at least one reworked sign order per month.

That is unless you have a system that helps you track and manage your POS.

We have found that the cost of a sign or display re-work averages between $35 and $50. However, the real cost of a re-work is much higher due to the fact that a sign that has to be re-worked usually reaches your customer days after your competition’s latest and greatest POS material has been put up at-retail. So, having a lot of reworks does erode the market share for your brand or product. What does that cost you?

Poorly Managed POS Can Negatively Affect Sales

It may be overly dramatic to suggest one of the possible consequences of not having a point-of-sale marketing tracking and management system is the loss of customers; but it is completely without exaggeration to suggest that you are very likely to lose sales without a POS management system.

Sales efforts are now fully and permanently intertwined with POS marketing. Your beverage alcohol sales team achieves its peak results when the POS function is tracked, measured and managed – and that is only possible with an automated system.

I suggest that now is the time to apply the same careful thought to your POS marketing tracking, measurement and management that you did many years ago when you began to consider automating such functions as order entry, inventory, warehouse management, truck maintenance, logistics and accounting systems.

For more information on our POS Tracking solutions, click the following button:

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A Concluding Suggestion

If you are a distributor of any consumer goods sold at-retail, I urge you to find out whom, amongst your competitors and suppliers are members of Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI) or The Path to Purchase Institute (p2pi) and explore membership for your company.

If you are a point-of-sale practitioner, likewise I urge you to look into POPAI's MaRC (Marketing at-Retail Certification). This is a certification and continuing education program aimed at keeping individuals current on point-of-sale technology, methods, and research as it applies to in-store marketing (POS).

Point-of-Sale (POS) Marketing - The Need for Change Starts Now

  
  
  
  

Point-of-Sale (POS) Marketing Technology - The Need for Change Starts Now

According to National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) data, the brewing industry contributes $247 billion to the US economy. This represents more than 1.6% of the total US GDP.

Malt beverages, as you know, are distributed by the over 3,300 NBWA wholesaler members. Today, these wholesalers distribute more than 13,000 different brands of beer.  These brands reach the consumer via a three-tier system consisting of:

POS Marketing - The need for change starts now–  Tier 1 - Suppliers

–  Tier 2 - Wholesalers

 Tier 3 - Retailers

All three tiers want to sell as much as possible downstream, ultimately to the retail consumer, and to do so they long ago adopted a marketing and promotional approach that has proven largely effective in persuading consumers to buy the brands they sell – Marketing at the Point-of-Sale.

The Big Beer Challenge

As the proliferation of brands continues, it has been difficult for most “Big Beer” brands to increase sales and hold onto market-share. According to a Beer Institute finding in 2013:

“Malt beverage consumption (per capita) dropped by nearly 20% since 1981.”  

Big Beer’s brands are primarily sold based on the retail price offered to shoppers. For example, consumer may be increasingly likely to consider all light beers brands interchangeable, especially when one of them is being heavily promoted at the point-of-sale.

Crafts and imports may have some price sensitivity but still have been able to keep retail prices relatively high. This provides each tier higher margins even though case volumes are substantially lower. Nevertheless, crafts and imports have continued to enjoy double-digit growth, while Big Beer sales have actually declined slightly.

Today, Big Beer has little to worry about as crafts and imports still represent just a fraction of the total malt beverage sales. However, Big Beer’s longer term threats are far from benign. According to the Beer Institute, increased beverage alcohol competition is seen as a significant issue overall.

As well, according to an August 2013 USA Today Study, Big Beer brewers like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors are facing no fewer than six challenges:

  1. Bye, Bye Light Beer - Drinkers are shifting away from the premium lite segment

  2. Taste Test - Light beer drinkers' taste buds are changing

  3. Downward Spiral - Twenty years ago, beer was the alcohol beverage of choice. Today, beer has lost ground while wine has gained

  4. Young Winos - Those drinkers under the age of 30 who prefer wine as their first choice have nearly doubled, while at the same time, those who say beer is their go-to drink have dropped from 71% to 41%

  5. Male Loyalty on Decline – Men's drink of choice, beer, has been on the decline, and women, too, are less likely to reach for a beer

  6. Poor Earnings Reports - All of the preceding challenges are the root causes for Big Beer’s recent poor earnings reports. While brewers have been able to offset greater losses with higher profits, their forecasts are continuing to suffer.

What Can Be Done?

In response to a market not used to decline, beverage alcohol suppliers and especially beer wholesalers now need to reexamine their marketing approaches, particularly their point-of-sale (POS) marketing practices, in order to regain market share and gain a competitive advantage.

Surveys that are available on the web from a wide variety of research and marketing companies have identified key retailer demands from the up-stream suppliers and distributors.  

At or near the top of the retailer’s needs from suppliers are promotions and promotional materials designed to both attract shoppers and persuade shoppers to become buyers. More and more retailers expect suppliers to help them make it easy for shoppers to locate, choose and buy the supplier’s products.

Retailers are demanding POS signage that contains high-impact graphics to be placed in the “pocket” – that sweet-spot placement most likely to catch the eye of the shopper as they enter the store or aisle where the products are on display. A place that Anheuser-Busch aptly calls the Point-of-Connection.

However, more than high-quality production values and smart placement of promotional materials, it is important to deploy marketing technology (software) with features that track, visually verify placement, measure and manage your retail marketing campaigns for maximum ROI.

Attribution Marketing

Have you heard the term Attribution Marketing?  

Attribution Marketing is the process of identifying a set of user actions or events that contribute in some manner to a desired outcome – for example, converting a shopper to a buyer – and then assigning a value to each of these events to help determine which event was most influential.

The process promotes an understanding of what combination of events influenced individuals to engage in a desired behavior – like buying your product. This behavior as noted is simply referred to as a “conversion”.

Although typically applied to on-line marketing, I think Attibution Marketing likewise applies to POS marketing initiatives.

For more information click here >> Attribution Primer by Brendan Riordan-Butterworth

Why POS Marketing Technology is the Answer

Without marketing technology the goal of POS attribution marketing – getting someone to buy your product – is difficult to accomplish. Beverage alcohol suppliers, until recently, have rarely adopted any marketing technology tools; instead they relied on traditional media buys which did, at least, provide the promise of “X” number of viewers for “Y” dollars, but little else.

The goal of traditional media buys has always been to introduce a brand to an at-home audience or to otherwise sustain or increase brand awareness of the viewers at-home. Said another way, the market exposed to the message by traditional media is not at the retailer where they could actually buy the product being advertised.

With over 13,000 beer brands in the market, deploying traditional media buys is both impractical and unaffordable, especially if the goal is to regain, sustain or increase sales and market share.

Only POS marketing technology offers the possibility of informing the shopper of the availability, desirability (the “why to buy”) and price of the product at the exact time and place the shopper is able to become a buyer of your beer brand, or other consumer packaged goods.

Standardizing on a marketing technology tool across the downstream elements in the distribution channel will provide suppliers with the data to examine and analyze individual retail outlets. This approach enables the next steps: The aggregation of local outlets performance into local groups; next, further aggregate local groups to create a regional level picture; and finally aggregate regional groups into an overall national picture. The local into regional and regional into national aggregation can, of course, be reversed if it becomes necessary to drill down into the performance of one region, local group or another.

Beverage alcohol is big business and big business needs big data. Deploying marketing technology at every level allows Big Beer to address many of the near and long term challenges it faces.

To learn more about OnTrak’s POS Marketing Technology, please click the following button:

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What Is Your Return on Your POS Promotions Management Investment?

  
  
  
  

What Is Your Return On Your Point-of-Sale (POS) Promotions Management Investment?

Articles and books on the subject of retail marketing often state that point-of-sale (POS) promotions are to be used to create or increase brand awareness.

I can’t think of any consumer packaged product (CPG) that doesn’t use POS to some degree.

The amount of money spent promoting products in the retail environment is staggering.  Currently, over $21 billion is spent on promotions at-retail in the US alone; and that amount is growing between 5-7% annually.

Here is another staggering data-point:

Only about 50% of retail promotions are effective.

A recent Boston College Study on Trade Promotions Management put it this way:

“Studies show that between 50-90% of promotions are not profitable. Many companies are not performing any post analysis to determine which promotions are profitable. Without this analysis, the same unprofitable promotions are run over and over again.”

Assuming you agree with the statement that “POS promotions are . . . used to create brand awareness”, I would like to suggest you consider the following:

The broader goal of POS is – or should be – to increase sales.

Brand awareness may lead to increased sales but it will be more difficult to measure the sales increase provided by your POS when its content provides no direct benefit or incentive for the retail customer to buy.

Hopefully you will agree that POS placed without even the outline of a strategy to increase sales and, in some cases, without even a clearly stated goal to “create or build” awareness of your brand, is a poor use of marketing dollars.

Suppliers and distributors must set retail marketing/promotional objectives, execute, measure and analyze results and adapt the campaigns with the goal of increasing POS marketing’s impact on increasing sales results.

It is our belief that you should plan as many of the factors involved in your POS initiatives as possible, not overlooking the following:

  • Direct POS acquisition or development costs

  • Placement cost, opportunity costs and timing

  • Recovery dollars available from manufacturers and suppliers to offset costs

  • Post promotional sales analysis, including a comparison of sales ‘before and after the promotional initiative’

In short, if you track the costs of your POS promotions and can correlate these costs to sales during the promotion period, you will have a much clearer idea of how effective and efficient your promotional initiative was.

You will then have information about what to do in the future with respect to your retail promotions.

Data collected, complied and analyzed about your POS campaigns creates this information. And, an informed CPG marketer has the resources – the power of information – to create POS programs that will increase sales, customer loyalty, revenue and profit.

Before you dismiss these notions as impractical due to the lack of marketing technology tools to help with the tracking, measuring and correlating of POS costs to outcomes, please take comfort in the knowledge that OnTrak Software solutions have been providing the technical tools required to track, manage, measure and verify the costs, impact and effectiveness of POS campaigns since 2005.

To learn more about our POS Tracking Solutions please click the following button:

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To download the Trade Promotion Management Study, click this link:

https://www2.bc.edu/~gallaugh/TPMOverviewforCase.pdf?src=whatech

POS Marketing Reality - Your Perception or the Actual Marketing Data?

  
  
  
  

POS Marketing Reality - Is It Your Perception or the Actual Marketing Data?

The subject of this blog is to focus on the importance of POS (Point-of-Sale) marketing data and the analytical tools that allow you to track and measure your POS Marketing investment based on real data, and not someone’s perception of what’s going on at-retail.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Let’s take a trip down memory lane – Mostly focusing on the days before POS marketing data and supporting marketing technology was generally available.

There are several brand name products which may call up certain emotions – Mostly nostalgia if you are of a particular age group, and the brand had a clear market dominance.

If the brand was very well-known, you may still have the ability to recognize its name or slogan.

Let’s try an experiment using some recognizable phrases: (see Note 1 for answers)

  1. “When you’re out of ________ you’re out of beer!” - Fill in the blank.

  2. “A little dab’ll do ya.” - Refers to what brand or product name?

  3. “For all you do this ______ for you.” - Fill in the blank.

  4. “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer ___ ______.” - Fill in the blanks.

  5. “They’re GRRRRRRREAT!” - Refers to what brand or product name?

  6. “________ . There is no substitute.” - Fill in the blank.

  7. “_ _ _ _ _ _ _ . . . ________ makes the very best . . . _________.” - Fill in the blanks.

Brand Recognition

POS Marketing Reality   Your Perception or the Actual Marketing Data resized 600It has been said that a “brand” is perceived based on about 5% to 10% memory, and 90% to 95% advertising, promotion, and marketing.

Little of the perception of a brand, at the points-in-time suggested by the above phrases, was measured.  It’s only in the last few years that real marketing data has been collected about POS Marketing. And only very recently has that captured data been analyzed in order to determine the return-on-investment of promotional events.  

Many brand names, and even more product names, come and go only to be replaced with new names. I wonder if the brand names of Plymouth and Oldsmobile or Schlitz are widely remembered, or today’s brands will suffer the same fate. And does it matter?

I'm bringing the subject of “brand recognition” because it has become increasingly difficult for Consumer Package Goods, including beverage suppliers, to bring new products to market via traditional electronic and print media. The clutter of TV channels, print outlets, and the Internet has made it all but impossible to gain sufficient exposure to introduce, build and sustain brand recognition and perception - And “perception is reality.”

You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure!

Here are some obvious questions at this point:

  • “What is a viable – and affordable – alternative to the spending on TV and Internet content?”

  • “What type of marketing approach can we take that can actually track and measure?”  

  • “How can we collect the data to allow us to track and then analyze the effectiveness (ROI) and costs of our marketing initiatives?”

Lucky for you, there are analytical tools available that will help you to correlate you POS Marketing investment to any incremental sales results. Once again, why is this of such importance? 

Here’s why. According to a brand new KPMG International survey as reported by Consumer Goods Technology, released July 28, 2014 (see Note 2):

More than any previous year, the focus of executive attention has shifted from economic uncertainty to data, technology and the supply chain. Additionally, 56% of consumer goods and retail business leaders cited data analytics as being important to their firm’s strategy, making it the highest-ranked strategic area in the survey.” Finally, “The survey results reveal that improving capabilities in the area of data analytics is the number one strategic priority for executives in the consumer space in 2014," comments Willy Kruh, global chair, Consumer Markets KPMG International.

OnTrak's Perspective

From our perspective, the fact that analytics is the “number one” priority for executives in the CPG space is exciting news. The reality, however, is that there are also some studies that suggest these same executives lament the lack of tools to actually accomplish the tracking, measuring and correlation of marketing initiatives to sales.

At the risk of being a broken record:

OnTrak has web-based marketing technology available right now that is specifically designed and developed to provide CPG and beverage distribution companies the following capabilities:

  1. Configuring and ordering POS marketing materials

  2. Tracking these orders through production and placement, with visual verification of the placement

  3. Providing the analysis of what POS materials correlate to the largest sales increases

  4. Determining the ROI achieved based on the costs of a particular POS campaign

If you are a CPG or beverage executive looking for these capabilities, then take a look at OnTrak Software.

Our name says it all – Our marketing technology will keep you OnTrak.

To learn more about OnTrak and its Point-of-Sale Marketing Management solutions, please click the following button.

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Note 1: 1) Schlitz; 2) Brylcreem; 3) Bud’s; 4) Dos Equis; 5) Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes; 6) Porsche; 7) N E S T L E S, Nestles, chocolate

Note 2:  Global Top of Mind Survey - KPMG International; the survey was conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of KPMG and The Consumer Goods Forum during April 2014.

Getting Started: Tracking and Measuring Your POS Marketing Activities

  
  
  
  

Getting Started: Tracking and Measuring Your POS Marketing Activities  

“That was then, this is now.”

I'll bet you've heard or read this phrase forever!

It's usually associated with economic, social and political opinion and fact. Elected officials, managers, educators and historians rely on this 6-word phrase to explain changes in their approaches to issues and problems of all sorts.

What this phrase suggests is that we now have new information upon which to base our actions or conclusions regarding any number of subjects - Something like “According to US Government data as of 2012 . . . .”

We certainly could conclude that 2012 data is new enough for us to consider it as sound – or at least “sound enough” for us to base our behavior upon. We’ll see.

For more than a decade, “the” data point used to describe why at-retail or POS marketing was so valuable has been:

  • 70% of all buying decisions are made in the store, in the aisle, while the shopper is at the place and time where he/she can convert from shopper to buyer.”

The POPAI Perspective

The 70% number came from POPAI and was based on their 1995 study of shopper behavior. That was then, this is now.

In 2012, POPAI released a new “Shopper to Buyer” study, and the 70% number was updated to 76% based on new data. Considering the length of time between the original and the 2012 study, a 6% increase in at-retail decision making was not all that surprising. But, in 2014, a follow-on POPAI study (2014 Mass Merchant Shopper Engagementwas released showing the number had again grown by 6% taking the at-retail conversion from shopper to buyer decision number to 82%.

You may or may not be inclined to agree with POPAI’s “82% conclusion” – but their study methodology, sample size and academic rigor is impressive. What really got my attention was that the 2012 and 2014 studies show just how quickly the CPG retail shopper has changed. The studies show how much today’s retail shoppers rely on point-of-sale materials to help them make buying decisions. Part of the reason for this, the 2014 study noted, is that shoppers at mass merchant retail stores spend very little time pre-planning their purchases.

  • Since mass merchant shoppers spend less time conducting pre-store research and frequently walk in without a list, it is not surprising the in-store (decision to buy) rate is so high.”    

POPAI concludes:

  • “The Mass Merchant shopper is more often reminded by something in-store when purchasing an impulse non-grocery product.

  • This likely is a result from the lower rates of overall planning and calls out the need for in store [POS] signage and displays to remind the mass shopper what he/she needs.” 

Calculating the ROI of POS Marketing

The real question is what is the return on investment (ROI) for your at-retail signage and displays? To determine this, you’ll need to correlate sales changes to the cost of placed POS signs and other materials to evaluate their effectiveness.  Once you have the cost of the POS materials and the change in sales data in hand, you can determine if the ROI calculated was greater than 1:1.

There are several formulas that you may elect to determine the ROI of your at-retail marketing. Often the simplest formula is the best in that the simple formula will typically provide you with the answer to two basic – yet very important – questions:

  1. Is my POS marketing campaign (sign or display) working to convert shoppers into buyers?

  2. Is the cost of my POS marketing campaign justified (is there a positive ROI)?  

One of the most basic formulas you can use is:

  • POS Marketing ROI = Gross Margin $ – POS Marketing Investment $ / POS Marketing Investment $ 

If needed, you can modify this formula to measure the ROI of the incremental sales attributed to a particular marketing at-retail initiative:

  • POS Marketing ROI = Gross Margin $ of Incremental Sales – POS Marketing Investment $ / POS Marketing Investment $ 

The components for calculating your POS marketing ROI can change for different customers and different products; but with POS ROI calculations and measurements, you can focus on at-retail marketing programs that deliver the greatest sales increases and the best ROI.

Finally, as noted in basic question #2 above, ROI will help you justify marketing investments. Since marketing is an investment to increase revenue, you can, by focusing on ROI, help your company grow.

What About Beverage Alcohol Companies?

Based on our experience with hundreds of our customers and prospects, if you’re a beverage alcohol supplier or distributor, there is a reasonable chance that you don’t capture the costs of your POS marketing investments and that you don’t measure the ROI.

There is also a good chance that you have an overall sense that POS marketing works, but you’re not sure what campaigns really are most effective or not at all effective.

The fact that you are here at our website, reading our blog, suggests that you know there’s room for improvement and benefit if you begin to track and measure your POS initiatives. You’ve arrived at a “That was then, this is now” moment.

A Good Place to Start

Assuming you currently do not track and measure any of your POS marketing programs, a good place to start is to collect the data required for you to calculate the ROI on your POS marketing investments. You can then review the information over time to make better POS marketing decisions.

Then as you get more data and become even more comfortable with the measurement process, you’ll find your POS marketing campaigns will continue to improve, your ROI will improve, and your at-retail marketing program costs will be reined in, made more efficient or both. 

When one of your customers or reps requests what seems to be an expensive sign or display, you’ll be able to predict the merits of spending to create the marketing collateral based on data, not “gut-feel.”

I urge you to begin using POS marketing technology to track, measure and manage one of your biggest expense categories: POS marketing programs. Perhaps you’ll change your thinking once you adopt a system that facilitates capturing, examining and analyzing your POS data.

To learn more about OnTrak's software to help you track, measure and manage your investment in POS marketing and promotional events, please click this button:

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POS Marketing Topic: POS Waste Reduction – What’s it Worth to You?

  
  
  
  

POS Waste Reduction – What’s it Worth to You?

In this blog, I’ll give you some guidelines to help determine if POS Tracking tools, like those from OnTrak, can be justified by the elimination of POS waste. For purposes of this blog, POS means signage, which is placed in the retail market to promote a particular beverage brand.

In order to determine the value of any software that is designed to reduce the costs of your Point-of-Sale (POS) marketing materials, and speed your POS to market, it is important to know just how much wasted POS actually costs.

A Recent Example

Recently, we demonstrated one of our products, SignTrak, to an enthusiastic audience at a large beverage alcohol distributor with over 100 sales reps, who also are responsible for merchandising.

Like most of our prospective customers, and all of our current customers, the first problem this distributor was attempting to solve with our software was his out-of-control POS costs. As requests for signage from retailers have increased, so too have the costs of ordering, producing and installing that POS. But these costs were increasing at a rate disproportionate to the actual increase in the demand for the signs themselves.

For some time, the POS costs for most beverage alcohol distributors have increased due to the increase in the costs of the consumables used to create the POS signs. Paper and ink costs continue to escalate; and with the increased demand for signage, additional infrastructure and labor costs swell too. Indeed it is not unusual for distributors to rank POS – and all the associated costs – as the number two expense following payroll.

It is no wonder, then, that OnTrak’s prospective customers are looking for solutions that will “Stop the bleeding” of cash being spent on what they perceive to be “breathtakingly expensive” POS marketing materials.

Calculating the ROI of POS Tracking Software

Calculating the ROI for POS Tracking Software

The question then becomes, “How do we determine the ROI that can be realized by using a POS tracking and management tool?”

The following will provide you with an understanding of how our customers use OnTrak to calculate and reduce the cash burn associated with the ordering, production and placement of POS signage, and other POS marketing materials.

Remember, there are competitive advantages to using marketing technology to increase both sales results and supplier marketing-recovery dollars; but we’re not dealing with those aspects of deploying marketing technology tools in this blog.

Let's Get Started!

How Much Does a Re-work Cost?

There are three things to consider:

1. Production Costs

Let’s establish some base-line costs for the production of a non-laminated 3’x5’ paper sign to be placed at your retail customer’s location. Sign costs for consumables currently stand at about $1.60 per square foot. This cost includes infrastructure costs, such as your printers, graphics software, office space, etc.

This translates to a base cost for this sign, as follows:

(3 x 5) x 1.60 = $24.00 (production)

2. Labor Costs

Next, we need to determine the cost of the labor required for the production of the signage. Fully burdened, the cost of the graphics or sign shop manager is at least $25 per hour – often more, based on the local labor market. Assuming it takes about 20 minutes total time to:  Receive the sign order, create the sign using a commercially available graphics package, load and unload the printer, and finally notify the merchandiser responsible for the installation of the sign that it can be picked up, the labor costs will be $8.33. Your sign’s base cost is now:

$24.00 (production) + $8.33 (labor) = $32.33

3. Ordering and Processing Costs

To that amount – $32.33 – the costs associated with ordering the sign and processing the request need to be accounted for. Fully burdened, sales reps typically cost at least $36 per hour, often much more. Distributors tell us that the amount of time required to order a sign without an automated system is 3 to 5 minutes with an additional 3 to 5 minutes spent on the phone with sign shop personnel to explain what the sign is supposed to look like and subsequently to inquire about the sign’s availability to be picked up. If we simply assume a total of only 5 minutes for these two communication activities combined, we will increase our costs by about an additional $3.00. Our single 3’ x 5’ sign’s cost in this example, not including any time or cost attributed to picking the sign up and delivering it, is now:

$32.33 (production and labor) + $3.00 (order and process) = $35.33

Our prospective customer indicated they would agree that $35.00 is their average cost per sign.

So What is the Total Cost for Re-works?

To which we reply: “How many re-works do you have per month?” (See Note 1)

In this case the graphics and POS production manager indicated that with 100 sales reps and 10 sales-team leaders, they estimated “About one re-worked sign, per rep, per month.” In other words, 100 re-works per month. At an average cost of $35 per sign, re-worked sign costs were $3,500 per month, or $42,000 per year.

The sales manager, in attendance at this meeting, added, “The cost is actually greater, because we had to have our rep place the first order and have our sign shop produce the sign incorrectly the first time – usually finding out the sign was wrong when we delivered it to our customer.” He added, “Then we have to re-order and produce the sign a second time which usually means it doesn’t get to the trade until a day or two after we had planned.”

The discussion continued and the sales-manager pointed out that “Price sells most of our products,” and that “Price is communicated via signage placed near the products.”  This suggests that getting the sign to the trade two-days later than he planned would cut into this week’s market share, assuming the competition got their signs up two-days earlier.

So How Much Does SignTrak Cost?

At this point our prospective customer asks: “How much will SignTrak cost us?”

The list price, per user, per month for SignTrak for a customer with 100 users is $12.00; or $1,200 per month; or $14,400 per year. Our customers tell us the re-work reduction after deploying SignTrak is 75% to 95%. Assuming the lower number - 75% - this would, in the above example, be a cost reduction of $31,500 per year. This means that for every $1.00 spent on SignTrak, the cost reduction of re-works alone would be a return of $2.19 – Over a 2 to 1 ROI.

Isn’t this a no-brainer? Act Now!

Please take the time to put pen to paper and take a serious look at the ROI your company could enjoy by deploying OnTrak’s POS marketing technology solutions. 

For more information on OnTrak’s suite of marketing technology please click the following button:

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A live, OnTrak demonstration will show you how we accomplish these saving. The demo typically requires less than an hour of your time.

To schedule a demo, click here >> Product Demonstration

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Note 1: A re-work regardless of the reason for it, is any sign request that has to be produced, scrapped and re-produced due to either an error in ordering/configuration or an error made during production. Often a sign is produced according to the order, is picked up and delivered, and then either the rep or the retail customer finds an error in the graphic or the content, or both. 

POS Marketing Topic: Think You’re Too Small to Advertise?

  
  
  
  

Think You’re Too Small to Advertise? Are You Kidding?

Purpose of This Blog

This blog is intended to focus somewhat narrowly on the marketing of “small” beverage alcohol brands and products such as craft beers, small yield wineries and “limited edition” liquors.

Nevertheless, many of the points made here are applicable to the broader beverage alcohol categories, perhaps even including some of the mainstream, household name brands and products available at your favorite off or on premise retailer.

Our Customers Rely On Point-of-Sale (POS) Marketing

Our customers, who supply or distribute malt-beverages and wine and spirits products, rely first on POS marketing, second on social media and some mobile, and third on traditional word-of-mouth-marketing (WOMM) to promote their brands. And this is especially true when it comes to marketing craft beers, “small” wines and limited supply liquors. In most cases the reasons for distributor’s reliance upon POS marketing for these products is that their suppliers simply don’t have the millions of dollars required to advertise on traditional electronic media outlets, like TV, in any substantial way.

In addition, we have heard our distributor customers frequently tell us that "Nothing will be featured by our retail customers that has not been sampled." Sampling a new craft beer is something TV isn’t good at either, as we all have figured out. Now along comes a recent web-article stating that “55% of Craft Beer is sold on premise.”

To read additional findings pertaining to Craft Beers click this link: Brewbound: Technomic Research on Craft Beers

Sampling comments from our customers and the many articles to be found in trade publications, and on-line blogs on the subject of brand/product introductions and brand building, suggest that:

“At the point-of-sale is both the best place and offers the highest ROI of all of the paid marketing at-retail initiatives and programs.”

 

How Much Money Do You Have To Advertise?

Excluding Sam Adam's ability to spend $45M on traditional media advertising this year, it is accurate to observe that most craft suppliers simply don't have the multiple-millions of TV ad dollars required to even make a small, superficial impression upon their target market. They can’t afford to make an impression – and this has nothing to do with the inherent quality of their products. Remember, even Sam Adams had to start small.

For those “too small to advertise” suppliers, POS marketing offers a fighting chance to educate, influence and persuade today's shoppers to become buyers.

B2B sampling activities are, for many suppliers (both breweries and distributors), the least expensive way to get a new product "on the menu" so to speak. B2C tastings likewise, can be conducted at-retail and can often build grass-roots WOMM that can yield impressive spot sales.

Now that your local grocer not only has Friday night wine tastings, but also beer pairings, it is possible to get maximum local exposure courtesy of the craft beer distributor's sales reps.

Other reasons that traditional (TV) advertising may not make sense even if the craft or small batch beverage supplier has a few spare millions:

  1. Cable “Cord Cutting” is up by 44% since 2010 to 7.6 million homes who no longer pay to subscribe to TV, rather electing to pay for Netflix or Hulu – and Netflix’s "Orange is the New Black," airs commercial-free, for example

  2. Gaming consoles are getting into the original programming "game". Xbox One started "broadcasting" this year. Is advertising an option here? Not yet.

  3. As if we don't have enough channels: Amazon and HBO are working together so that Amazon Prime members can access HBO original programming. Yahoo! is also joining the growing list of non-broadcast, non-cable, non-satellite providers with its own original programming. 

What’s the answer?

In the face of this diminishing power of traditional advertising, POS Marketing is gaining ground. One key reason is that there are now tools available that traditional electronic media has never had, and quite likely never will. With new marketing technologies, supplier and distributors have the ability to:

Directly correlate their POS marketing investment to incremental sales.

Traditional ads will offer advertisers the promise of so many "eyeballs" (often called CPM) and there is the concept that the more eyeballs on your ad there are, the greater your sales will be. But the correlation between the eyeballs of that target market and subsequent sales continues to weaken due both to audience fragmentation and especially the massive number of channel options.

The "good-old-days" of consolidated audiences and only 3 or 4 channels on TV are gone. About the only place suppliers can enjoy some certainty of a consolidated "audience" is at the point of shopping; or as Anheuser-Busch/InBev calls it, “the POC” – the point-of-connection between the brand/product and the consumer.

You may also argue that you can convert a shopper to a buyer on-line, and that too is accurate to a degree. But the truth is there is no better place to connect with a potential buyer, at the time of their decision (to buy), than in the store; and of course in the specific aisle, where your product is available for purchase. You see, shoppers often like the ability to instantly buy and take home, rather than wait even one day for their purchases to arrive.

For information about OnTrak’s marketing technology tools that will help you track, measure and manage your investments in POS marketing, and correlate that investment to sales results, please click this button:

OnTrak Products

How POS Marketing Technology Will Improve Your Company’s Productivity

  
  
  
  

How Point-of-Sale (POS) Marketing Technology Will Improve Your Company’s Productivity

The “Great Recession” and Corporate Productivity

Watching the business news networks, reading Forbes, Fortune and The Wall Street Journal and talking with our customers and prospects, it certainly appears the US economy is today back to “pre-Great Recession” levels.

In most cases, business reporting suggests companies seem to be at least as profitable as they once were, and in many cases, companies are even more profitable because of the belt-tightening exercises they initiated during the “Great Recession” (GR).

It’s difficult for me to believe that we came out of the recession, technically, in June, 2009; riding on a newfound wave of rapidly rising productivity.

The reason for this productivity, of course, was that companies and their remaining employees were making do and doing more with less. Productivity gains by the end of 2009 were up almost 6% according to government reports.

A sign on the wall of one of our customer’s break rooms goes a long way to explaining why, and how such productivity was achieved:

“Use It Up - Wear It Out

Make It Do - Or Do Without”

Where Are We Now!

Now, five-years later, employees – less likely to be living in fear of being laid-off – are starting to move on to other opportunities and their former employers are finding it increasingly difficult to find replacements. The result of the country’s improved economy and many companies’ improved productivity is, oddly, declining productivity.

Annual productivity has now fallen by almost 5%, now averaging a meager 1% or less, according to government statistics. Although hopefully partially weather related, productivity in Q1 2014 fell below productivity in Q4 2013 – Not a good sign.

The impact of falling productivity is possibly due to the overall economic contraction, including reduced spending on consumer goods, construction, and durable goods, as well as the increased possibility of another recession, based on the official definition*.

But, before we resign ourselves to that fate, perhaps we should ask, what is the reason for this falling productivity – beyond an abnormally harsh winter?

Reasons for Falling Productivity

POS Marketing Technology's Positive Impact on ProductivityVarious studies mention a primary reason for falling productivity is that businesses have been under-investing in themselves. Capital spending on the “infrastructures of productivity”, such as software, has declined sharply since the onset of the GR. Initially, the reduction of capital spending (belt-tightening) by companies during the early days of the financial collapse improved their financial positions. Lay-offs and pay freezes, justified by the GR, have depressed worker compensation to a multi-decade low, further improving these companies’ bottom lines.

Today, companies are cash rich – at least according to many public companies’ annual reports – and profits are strong, in many cases historically strong. The Dow recently closed above 17,000 for the first time ever and we’ve been enjoying employment growth of some 200,000+ jobs per month for most of 2014.

Now Is the Time to Invest in Productivity Tools

Now is the time to invest in new equipment, software and facilities. It’s time to put the latest and greatest productivity tools in the hands of employees. It’s time to invest in the tools that will provide you and your business interests with a competitive advantage. It’s time to increase both your top and bottom lines. In short, it’s time to grow.

Although companies, including some of our customers and many of our prospects, did tighten their belts, and their purse-strings, choosing not to invest in software to reduce the cost of their point-of-sales marketing initiatives – That time has passed.

For consumer goods suppliers and distributors, especially in the beverage market, now is the time to invest in point-of-sale marketing technology that will not only track and reduce the costs associated with POS marketing, but technology that will also measure the outcomes of your point-of-sale promotions. Armed with this information you can now make marketing decisions that will most likely have the highest return on return-on-investment. 

And this investment in POS marketing technology will enable you to track, measure and manage your at-retail marketing programs, and lay the foundation for your company’s higher sales productivity for many years to come.

If you’d like to know more about our POS marketing technology please click the following button:

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*The technical indicator of a recession is, “Two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country's gross domestic product (GDP)”.

How Measuring At the Point-of-Sale Helps Convert Shoppers to Buyers

  
  
  
  

How Measuring At the Point-of-Sale Helps Convert Shoppers to Buyers

Winning with Point-of-Sale (POS) Marketing

Price is Important

For the consumer goods that most shoppers would consider interchangeable, price is important information, and perhaps the most important information for shoppers to make the decision to buy.

For products like Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, or competing name-brand light beers, for example, many shoppers will almost always buy the one that is priced lower.

If the “lowest-priced diet cola of the week” changes from week to week (Coke to Pepsi and then from Pepsi to Coke), it should come as no surprise that the ‘on-sale’ diet cola will almost always enjoy a sales increase.

The Purpose of POS Marketing

The purpose of the POS marketing materials for these largely interchangeable, on-sale, diet colas and light beers is to inform the shopper of the promotional price.

Little, if anything, can be gained by attempting to persuade shoppers to buy based on the merits of the brand-name itself, or of the specific diet cola or light beer. The market knows Coke; and the market knows Pepsi. So if Diet Coke is a $1.50 cheaper per 12-pack than Diet Pepsi, that fact alone may provide all of the information and persuasion many shoppers need to make the decision to buy

There are a decreasing number of brand loyalists that will typically buy “their brand” even if it costs more. For them, $1.50 off of a 12-pack is an insufficient pricing incentive to change their minds.

Measuring the Impact of POS

It would be dishonest and inaccurate, at this point, to suggest that suppliers, distributors or retailers should give up on POS marketing and post-campaign measurement for high-volume, price-driven items, like these diet colas and light beers.

Measuring the impact of POS, where the message is price first and product qualities second, is unlikely to be as effective as the measurement of the impact of POS that is working to persuade shoppers to become buyers by informing them of the features and benefits of the product first, and price second.

But don’t underestimate the power of POS to increase sales even if its prime reason is to present a low price message.

How About Beverage Alcohol?

So let’s talk about the behavior of suppliers and especially distributors of beverage alcohol (BA) - One of the largest categories within the over $2 trillion US consumer goods universe.

It does appear that this category, over the course of nearly a decade, has embraced point-of-sale (POS) marketing. They sure spend a lot of money on it!

However, there has been very limited utilization of POS tracking and measuring technologies, even in the face of supplier encouragement. We know that most suppliers offer financial incentives to distributors who invest in POS. That’s because suppliers know that POS works. But in order to get suppliers to pay the distributors, more than a handshake is required.

What suppliers want and increasingly require is information about the impact of the investment: What was spent, where, when, for what brands, and what were the resulting sales?

Can you see why POS tracking and measurement is critical toward providing that valuable information to suppliers?

The Beverage Alcohol Marketing Challenges

Somewhere, last year, I read an article where the statement was made that seems so close to the truth about BA marketing and sales promotions as to cause me to wince:

No industry works harder at being lazy”.

The applicability of this statement to BA distributors seems to be accurate.

These distributors are the prime source for all POS marketing materials that is placed at-retail, in the aisles, on the shelves, in the coolers, and on the walls. Distributors collectively advertise over 150,000 beers, wines and spirits offered for sale to consumers and shoppers across the country.

However, many of the distributor sales reps, who have no training in effective POS marketing practices, are expected to provide POS marketing materials and develop retail marketing programs for their customers.

This expectation is a good thing.

However, there is generally little thought given to what POS message is desired, beyond low price or a general theme. How do these distributors and their reps decide the following:

  • What is the overall strategic POS Marketing Plan?

  • How will the plan be executed?

  • How will the POS marketing initiatives be measured?

  • What ROI is expected vs. what is actually achieved?

OnTrak’s Perspective

It is our view that there is little POS marketing campaign planning being done by distributors; Very little POS marketing goal setting, and even less order and cost tracking; And almost no measurement of the impact of BA POS, beyond the vague notion that “it works”.

So if our perception is accurate, then any of the regional suppliers and their distributors, who adopt OnTrak’s marketing technology to accomplish even some of these activities, will gain a huge competitive advantage.

If POS marketing is planned, executed and measured – and done so with the discipline possible with marketing technology software – there is no reason but to believe that even a small distributor can actually gain market share over a large one.

Isn’t it time to learn how OnTrak’s POS Tracking Software can help you accomplish all of this?

Click here to learn more:

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OnTrak’s POS Analysis and Reporting Tools – 2014 Enhancements

  
  
  
  

OnTrak’s POS Analysis and Reporting Tools – 2014 Enhancements

We Listen to Our Customers

POS Tracking and Management Software resized 600

OnTrak’s customers often subscribe to our Point-of-Sale (POS) Tracking Software, first to address the problems they are having keeping track of the ordering, production and placement of POS promotional materials.

As time passes, our customers typically want and need to use the data collected by OnTrak’s solutions to analyze overall POS campaign effectiveness and return on investment.

Now in 2014, we’re pleased to offer our customers a new version of our Detail Report Writer. This version includes updates and improvements based on requirements from our customers – Something we historically do as a normal practice of our business.

The Current Detail Report Writer

The Detail Report Writer is currently included in our products – SignTrak, PermaTrak, SampleTrak and MenuTrak.

The report writer had always been an easy-to-use but powerful tool for our customers to be able to determine:

  • What types and sizes of POS materials are being produced?

  • How much is being spent on POS materials and labor?

  • Where and when was a campaign placed, by customer location?

  • What suppliers and brands were represented in marketing campaign spending?

  • What region, territory, sales team or ethnicity shared in the POS marketing investment?

  • Was the POS actually placed on-time and in the correct customer location, and can that placement be visually verified?

Once sufficient data has been captured by the OnTrak products, and stored in the OnTrak data base, many things are possible.

Queries can be created, saved and run on a scheduled basis (monthly, quarterly or virtually any periodic basis desired), in order to determine not only the answers to the preceding questions, but also numerous other ad hoc queries.

Our Detail Report Writer allows our customers to select the data they want included on the reports and present it on-screen or download it into an Excel spreadsheet. The latter allows the reports to be viewed, printed, attached to an email, or exchanged with other business systems.

The New Detail Report Writer

So far in 2014, we’ve improved and enhanced the Detail Report Writer’s capabilities in SignTrak. This has been driven by requirement from beer distributors. Enhancements will be added to MenuTrak in the third quarter, also based on requirements from wine wholesalers. Requirements for PermaTrak and SampleTrak are currently being collected.

The following represent some of the enhancement in the new version:

  • Processing Speed: The reporting process has been rewritten to provide more efficient data retrieval and processing resulting in much faster processing and production of reports

  • Sort Selection Criteria: Two levels of sorting are now available for reporting; and subtotals are provided for both levels

  • Summary Reporting: It is now possible to have a summary-only report instead of always having to see all order-level data; Summarization is based upon the sort levels, therefore offering a 2-level summary report capability

  • Scheduled Reporting: Reports can be scheduled to run monthly, quarterly or by trimester (making it applicable to beverage alcohol suppliers and distributors); scheduled monthly reports, for example, will be run in the evening of the 1st day of each month and emailed to a specific email address or group

  • Selection Filters: It is now possible to select multiple Suppliers and/or Brands; and with a click of your mouse allow the selection of multiple entries from any of the Filter Selection drop-downs.

As was mentioned, most, if not all of these enhancements have been developed in response to customer requests.

All of OnTrak’s POS Tracking Software solutions came to market as the result of listening to the needs of our customers and prospects. It is our passion to develop solutions to fulfill these needs.

For more information about OnTrak’s solutions, please click this button:

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