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App that evaluates supermarket product placement

Salsa Digital developed innovative display capture technology to assess the impact of supermarket product placement on sales.

The players

We can’t actually name the client/player for this case study because there is a level of sensitivity and competitive advantage to be considered. However, we can say it’s a household name, a manufacturer that’s known to 99% of the 1st world population. A very large global player in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) business. We’ll call them S-FMCG (Salsa Digital FMCG).

The problem

Retail product placement (placing products in the most desirable locations of a supermarket) is big business within FMCGs. Prime positions in supermarkets are at the ends of aisles and other hotspots such as at the checkout or the deli. Product manufacturers pay premium prices to stock their products in these desirable locations, but how do they know these costs pay off in increased sales?

S-FMCG wanted to assess the impact of product placement on sales, and also wanted to understand the space occupied by their competitors’ products. They had an idea for a technological solution, an app that would capture product data using a variety of handheld devices, but they needed an experienced vendor to bring their idea to fruition.

The solution

Salsa Digital was able to take the brief and, in consultation with S-FMCG, extend the concept based on Salsa Digital’s experience in digital strategy, creative design and the FMCG space.

We compiled a series of rapid Display Capture prototypes in the form of interactive wireframe models of the application and backend data management system. The interactive wireframes were able to very quickly demonstrate a minimum viable product (MVP) — something similar to the S-FMCG’s original vision — and also model a more feature-rich Display Capture.

S-FMCG demonstrated Display Capture to its Board to support its business case. The Board was so impressed that it released 10 times the funding of the MVP to capitalise on the enhanced version.

Figure 1: Victorian supermarket checks for agent.

Display Capture features

Display Capture has a rich set of features designed to help S-FMCG understand its product placements and that of its competitors. Some of these features include:

  • Flexible data-driven system —The data management system allows each supermarket to be modelled as a set of aisles and other points of interest (deli, checkout, etc.).
  • Simple, quick capture at point of interest — Each supermarket end/aisle is visually represented and a percentage of product coverage can be quickly entered.

Figure 2: End/aisle photo and registration of percent coverage for a product.

  • Photos — Display Capture can be configured to mandate a photo, or have it as optional, per supermarket. Where photos are captured against ends the quantitative data or end percent coverage can be cross-checked by S-FMCG operations and product teams.
  • Analytics — The Display Capture data management system has some powerful analytical features that allow trends and overviews to be understood. A summary dashboard offers aggregation and filtering of data across variables such as product, product family/brand, product category, location/supermarket, state, and more, while also capturing these variables as percentage change and relative share. A variety of reports can be viewed to provide figures for an individual supermarket, a subset of all supermarkets, all supermarkets in a particular state or as a national aggregate.
  • Offline capability —Connectivity can be an issue at supermarkets, so the application is designed to work offline. Agents simply capture data and it’s uploaded to the server when connectivity is established.

Display Capture has many other features that help S-FMCG to gather product intelligence.

The technology

The technology stack that Display Capture sits on includes iPhone iOS, Android and Windows mobile applications for the Display Capture client. The server employs AWS technologies, Drupal CMS and Google graphs.

Benefits

Salsa Digital was able to fulfil S-FMCG’s vision of an in-depth and multi-faceted analysis of how product placement affects sales. Importantly, this delivers a competitive advantage to S-FMCG, because its product placement strategies are backed up with facts, with data.

The depth of the analytics also gives S-FMCG the power to go further — to understand changes in value share of its products and that of its competitors and to make strategic decisions to capitalise on trends and seasonality.

Display Capture is simple, reliable, streamlined and cost-effective.

Why Salsa Digital?

S-FMCG was looking for a developer and found Salsa Digital from a Google search. They were attracted to our strong design team, our engineering rigour within the digital space and our experience across a range of technologies, including custom-designed apps.

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