Article

Automated Photo Compliance:
Giving Visibility and Time Back to Retail Leaders and Stores

It’s never been easier for brands and employees in the retail industry to ensure campaigns are executed correctly and effectively

As brick & mortar retailers head into the final stretch of the holiday season, a tailored and focused store strategy is top of mind for retail leaders. We spoke here about the critical holiday season and referenced a recent Deloitte report that noted on top of the $1.19 trillion spent in US retail sales between November 2020 and January 2021, the consulting firm forecasted a 7% to 9% increase in sales this year over the same holiday period last year. The National Retail Federation (NRF) has also forecasted that this year will see the highest holiday retail sales on record, anticipating an average increase of 4.4 percent over the past five years. Within this context and critical time for retailers, brand leaders are leveraging a variety of tools to find operational efficiencies and optimize stores to maximize store performance.  

Among the many tools being leveraged is the planogram – perhaps the most important tool retailers use to ensure strategic store execution. We recently talked here about the evolution of the planogram and how it has evolved to become more effective, tailored, and targeted over the years. But planograms only half the story. 

The ability of HQ to ensure proper execution of a planogram – increasingly referred to as a realogram – has been the missing piece. Without knowing exactly what stores are doing with the instructions included in the planogram, leaders only have partial visibility into stores. When stores fail to be compliant and aren’t merchandised correctly, stores can lose money, brands can see a drop in revenue from ineffective campaigns, and retail leaders are less than thrilled. But if armed with visibility into the accuracy with which stores are executing planograms, HQ can be sure campaigns are being executed as they should be and that customers are experiencing a store the way they are intended to be executed.  

The good news is that technology has evolved, and brick & mortar retailers no longer have to rely on an assumption or hope when sending planograms to stores. The retail management platform Optimum Retailing (OR) is revolutionizing the way stores oversee planogram execution and the shift to incorporating realograms into retail strategy with its machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered Automated Photo Compliance (APC) feature. By having employees simply hold up their phone to a fixture, the platform can scan and mark compliant (or non-compliant) 15,000 or more images for one campaign alone, which was recently done for OR’s client Verizon across its 1600 stores. After the company’s first experience with APC, they reported an improvement in the recognition of all graphics and minimal instances where a retry was needed, with 98% of the images captured on the first attempt, in addition to a reduction of 98.5% in time to review the images.

With this degree of accuracy, APC is redefining compliance and successful planogram execution, with multiple benefits.    

Benefits of APC for HQ:
Automated peace of mind. The OR platform automatically knows what has been executed correctly or what needs review and changes. With APC, brick & mortar management teams can be confident that stores are executing planograms as intended. 
Compliance by element. While other platforms look at holistic configurations, OR also goes a step further and looks at the sequence of elements to ensure compliance at a more granular level, increasing the accuracy of campaign execution.   
Time savings. With APC, HQ receives real time reporting on when a fixture is executed, and has an efficient and automated compliance process in place that doesn’t require a manual review of thousands of pictures.
Financial savings. Many brick & mortar retailers used to rely on in-person audits and physically sending someone to a store to ensure it was compliant in executing a planogram. With OR, brick & mortar retailers can confirm compliance automatically, instantly, and at a lower cost. 

Benefits of APC for store staff: 
Store execution made simple. APC makes it easy for employees to execute a store fixture, confirm its level of compliance, or report an issue by directing their phone at a display. 
Using employees’ time wisely. With OR’s APC feature, employees’ time is freed up, allowing them to focus on engaging consumers in store instead of manually taking photos of fixtures and displays.
Stores are empowered. While the OR system is automated, stores are always empowered with the ability to override.  Once the system scans the sequence of elements, it flags to the user anything that has been identified as non compliant. Stores then have the power to accept or reject the notice of non-compliance, and send a message to HQ saying that an override has occurred. OR ensures those on the front lines that know their store best are engaged and empowered.   

Early on in the pandemic it became clear that the ability to find efficiencies and gain visibility into stores serving customers with ever changing habits will continue to be a skill that will impact store execution performance. As Retail Dive recently noted, “a growing numbers of retailers realize that first-generation multi-tenant cloud platforms don't provide the degree of customizability and control needed to support the requisite operational flexibility, they're increasingly turning to cloud-native solutions. Taking a cloud-native approach will be the key to building a winning technology strategy for retailers in 2022 and beyond. It’s what will allow them to keep pace with lightning-fast shifts in consumer demand in a marketplace where change is the only constant.”

To keep up with consumers and ever-evolving change at the store level, retail leaders needs visibility and confidence in their stores, and OR is leading the charge is empowering brick & mortar retailers with the visibility, control, and time needed to succeed post-pandemic while giving stores an easy way to increase compliance rates and performance. 

Put OR to work for your brand today, and let us help you simplify, empower, streamline and optimize your retail planning and retail execution. The future of planograms and realograms is automated, and OR can help you elevate and optimize your retail operations. 

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