With the overwhelming number of independent and chain convenience stores, the size of the prize in this channel remains significant for those who can crack the code for effective distribution.

If you are reading this, it’s likely that you already know how fragmented and challenging this channel can be to manage. Simply managing key buyer and broker relationships is challenging enough, and is only further complicated by adding distribution management and store level execution issues across 150,000+ locations.

However, as we move into 2021 we are beginning to see a formula emerge that is putting top CPG brands in position to grow All-commodity volume (ACV) and points of distribution in their category. This formula is providing them with a level of visibility, control, and data that they have never had before. Most importantly, it is allowing them flexibility in how they allocate trade budgets and spending so they can ensure the biggest opportunities for sales lift are always getting the most attention in real time.

Consolidated Sales Network (CSN), a primary Shelvspace broker partner has coined this evolution “SmartCompliance” which is part of their CSNInsights offerings. SmartCompliance relates specifically to CSN’s way of doing this, which includes their own unique capabilities to leverage people, data and technology. This overall approach is continuing to become a new industry standard for the channel, and is being used by others to drive the most gains with the most control and speed.

Here is the general formula broken down into a few basic steps:

  1. Set trade objectives and budgets for the c-store channel – Many in this channel leverage rebate programs, however simple distribution or sales incentives also work.
  2. Identify and integrate store level data collection for as many store locations as possible in your target coverage areas. Due to limitation of scan data in this channel, shipment data or even in-store audit data is often used instead.
  3. Automate size of prize reporting and store level notifications to inform when programming thresholds are not being met, by account, by store, and by responsible team member coverage (broker, distributor, territory).
  4. Leverage hybrid coverage models of on-demand labor, distributor, broker and internal teams to maximize channel coverage, particularly with your “A” and “B” priority stores.
  5. Create a closed loop process to evaluate results that feed back into the first step so that adjustments in programming, data and team coverage can be made “on the fly” without causing major disruption.

These 5 simple steps require some nuanced setup and tooling, however with advancements in Retail Sales Automation and On-Demand Labor networks, the ability for companies to quickly set up an effective process is becoming not only obtainable, but an essential component to win in this channel. Not only does this system give management better visibility and control, but the effectiveness of this type of system is producing huge sales lift gains. Many brands have been able to drive regional distribution gains of 26%+ within a month of implementation.

Investing the energy into setting this up directly or working with partners like CSN who have existing capabilities built into their model can be well worth the time for anybody selling products in the c-store channel. Now is the perfect time to implement this type of programming for 2021. As trade programs and budgets are being set, there is still plenty of time to put the data, tech and people structure in place so you can hit the ground running in 2021 with an immediate leg up over your competition.

For additional examples, best practices, and case studies showing these approaches, please request more information or a call with one of our industry experts.

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