Dole's heaviest GoSpotCheck users are reps, managers, directors, and vice presidents. Dole's approach has always focused on ground-level operations, because it would otherwise be extremely difficult — if not outright impossible — to accurately determine how the brand is presented without stepping foot into every store and physically checking shelves and displays. While syndicated data from sources like IRI and Nielsen provide some insight into industry and consumer trends, their scope is inherently narrow. For instance, those outlets don't have access to information pertaining to clubs and other sales channels. Going from store to store and gathering data internally is the only way to capture a full, 360-degree view of the marketplace.
Brand leaders like Carol Jones, Dole's National Retail Sales Manager in the U.S., wanted to be certain that the data gathered reflected as many store locations as possible, rather than try to extrapolate consumer and market trends from a smaller sample size.
Many of the grocery stores and retailers that populate Dole's supply chain leverage complex, multi-zoned planograms. As such, quickly gleaning actionable data and average figures from such documents would be extremely challenging. The alternative (and more accurate) solution is walking into the store and surveying displays one at a time. This approach offers a clear window into critical KPIs like the number of facings each SKU receives.
The fundamental problem with a disjointed, manual data collection process is that it usually lacks a central database for information to be stored and shared. When a manager wants to take a look at all of the display images in a particular region, for instance, those photo albums are strewn across multiple platforms — if they are available at all.
GoSpotCheck condenses all captured images into easily accessible photo albums. An employee monitoring seasonal displays can quickly pull up every submitted report and associated image to check for consistency across numerous retail locations.
More comprehensive field reports are readily shareable as well — perfect for both compiling quarterly, corporate reports and flagging issues with representatives on the road. GoSpotCheck offers tremendous versatility, supporting a number of formats and file types. Dole saves its field reports in Excel spreadsheets, which allows stakeholders like Jones to manipulate the data and pull out insights germane to either an executive audience or field-level staff member.
The complexity of supply chains often stands in the way of inventory agility. It may take weeks to refill empty stock without a sophisticated feedback pipeline to deliver updates directly from the field. Before GoSpotCheck, Dole experienced similar inventory delays when information arrived from the field late or incomplete.
Jones or one of her co-workers would receive an email flagging low inventory at a retail location. After passing along that notice to their broker representative, the Dole team would often need to spend several weeks following up on those initial communications to rectify the issue.
"Using GoSpotCheck, I'm able to take a direct look at what's out of stock," said Jones. "This knowledge is power. I'm able to relay this information to our management teams and say, 'You're going to need more facings' or 'You're going to need to talk to the retailer and say you need to increase your orders.'"
“Not only does it identify the issue, it gives us insight, then we're able to correct that issue.”
Dole also utilizes GoSpotCheck to grade its brokers' responsiveness whenever a problem arises. The data collected through GoSpotCheck establishes concrete benchmarks to compare against, so the Dole team can confidently hold brokers to a reasonable timeline and have inventory issues fixed as quickly as possible.
With GoSpotCheck's metrics, Dole can hold any third-party organization that acts on its behalf accountable to the terms of their contract. Any deviations from the norm are documented and then flagged, keeping those entities compliant.
One of the unforeseen benefits of GoSpotCheck is the effect it has on field representatives like brand managers and salespeople. With GoSpotCheck in hand, Dole representatives are more emboldened to check every facet of the brand's market presence at a very granular level. According to Jones, the field teams operate with a newfound level of discipline in that regard, voraciously collecting data pertaining to both Dole's retail activity and the competition's. Dole managers have found that the insights gleaned from this approach are far more valuable than what could be acquired from a syndicated data source.
Not all promotional offers appear in syndicated data reports. The only way to acquire this insight is through on-site surveys.
Using GoSpotCheck, Dole discovered that they actually outfaced the competition by 40 percent.
This information is valuable at face value, but Dole digs deeper to ascertain what causes such fluctuations in the competition's sales, and how those forces should drive the brand's own decision-making.