AI Driving Optimal Placement

April 18, 2022:

I’ve seen some strange merchandising strategies at store over my time in the CPG industry, you know what I’m talking about? A beverage cooler next to the restrooms, or beer display in the diapers section (might make more sense than I realize). Like the slide in this picture, I’m sure there is a reason. Wouldn’t you love to hear how this slide was installed to feed into a road? I’ll assume positive intent. When it comes to retail, I love trying to understand the rationale for displays. Usually, you can come up with some idea of how a store manager agreed to the space. “This is the only space in the store”, “Give it a try, we can move it later” are common responses I get during market tours. Beverage Cooler placement gets a little tricky. They are hard to move, require electrical and space is often paid for my manufacturers or distributors. A cooler sitting next to the restroom at Food Lion, likely doesn’t deliver much ROI. Or does it? Conventional wisdom might also tell you that a beverage cooler on aisle 4 next to the door outperforms aisle 3 next to tobacco. Or a cooler AFTER the checkout outperforms a cooler located in the pharmacy area. Or a cooler in a convenience store placed next to the front door is better than on the coffee counter? We use A LOT of conventional wisdom in the CPG industry when to making decisions regarding big investments around cold equipment. We really need to use more data. The stakes are getting too high to rely on conventional wisdom.

It is what it is…

If you are in the beverage industry and invest in cold equipment that is deployed across retail, you have likely wrestled with the scenarios painted above. We have been so fixated on obtaining cold equipment at all costs, however, now the costs start to matter. Retail is not perfect and optimal placement for expensive coolers is not always available. Assuming we even know what “optimal” is when determining placement. Often, we invest millions in equipment, placement fees and labor to install and service coolers simply to achieve an objective without the data needed to fully assess the ROI. “If it’s cold, it’s sold” becomes the mantra, does anyone ask the question “how much do we sell?” Often, after we gain placement, spending thousands, we resign ourselves to “It is what it is” mindset. Defeat.

Let’s start a movement…

No longer should we make cooler placement decisions without the data to support the investment. We shouldn’t have to place our coolers next to restroom or after the register in grocery store or next to the lotto machine. Unless… THE DATA supports the move. Resources are so valuable today to execute our brands at retail, we simply can’t afford to take our eye off the ball by placing coolers in places that don’t produce. Today, is Independence Day!!!!

Did anyone ask, “How we are going to do this?”

I guess it would be helpful to have tools to get the data needed to make these decisions. Fortunately, the development of AI-Image Recognition and IoT is here with companies like Vision IoT (visioniot.com), a part of the Vision Group (Visiongroupretail.com), which installs technology that captures store level shopper behavior data. This revolutionary technology can garner the shopper interaction data needed to understand the true ROI of a cooler placement. Data inputs range from tracking how many times a cooler door is opened during a specific time of day, to what items are sold. Imagine driving assortment decisions by cooler! Aisle 4 sells water and tea while aisle 3 sells energy drinks. Or the cooler we placed near the front door actually outperforms the cooler in aisle 5, I should renegotiate my placement fees. In the words of Yogi Berra… “You can observe a lot by watching”. When you have implemented technology like Vision IoT, you can make ROI decision based on what the machine is watching. If you liked this blog, check out other topics regarding how AI and IoT can help Brands, Retailers, Distributors and Wholesalers make better decisions when investing in store level capital.

About Vision IoT Inc.

Vision IoT connects retail assets enabling CPG brands and retailers to measure, analyze, and optimize the efficiency of these assets and the representatives responsible. Vision IoT successfully created the world’s first and only device-agnostic IoT platform for connected retail assets that seamlessly integrates with third-party controller OEMs across the globe. Our innovative IoT solutions transform a retail store into digital insights that maximize sales and elevates the customer experience.

Headquartered in Chantilly, Virginia Vision IoT also has regional offices across India, China, Bulgaria, and Brazil to support millions of connected devices on our platform for our clients across over 40 countries. Vision IoT is a leading innovator in ground-breaking Internet of Things (IoT) products for the retail industry. Since its inception, Vision IoT has built an impressive portfolio of patented technologies. Today, we can boast several of the Fortune 500 companies in our client list, which is constantly growing as we scale our platform to new client groups and use cases.

We leverage our vast machine learning, AI, and image recognition development capabilities in addition to our deep experience in the Retail/CPG industries to build the world’s #1 device agnostic connected asset platform. Our Harbor IoT platform connects millions of coolers, espresso machines, pallets, and freezers globally, in addition to directly integrating critical applications for field service reps and salespeople. We also offer a comprehensive suite of management dashboards and analytics to give management unparalleled insights into their field operations.

For more information connect with the Vision IoT team: rishabh@visioniot.com and austin.groves@visioniot.com | 703-981-9354

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