Case Study

Dole Discovers It Has 40% More Facings Than Its Competition

Dole uses GoSpotCheck to monitor inventory, track competitive activity, and create shareable reports for both internal and third-party partners.

About the Company

The Dole brand is synonymous with quality. For more than 150 years, Dole has produced the freshest fruits and vegetables as well as superior-quality frozen foods.

Dole's messaging zeroes in on the average, health-conscious individual, focusing on organic produce, nutritious meals, and active lifestyles. The company continually supports nationwide educational programs to promote healthy eating habits and even founded the "National 5 A Day for Better Health Program."

Dole’s commitment to freshness and product quality has led to a number of innovations in the agribusiness world, including the development of quality control measures, crop protection programs, and cutting-edge transportation technologies to bring produce and food products to grocery stores and retailers as quickly as possible. Dole even runs its own dedicated shipping line, the Dole Ocean Cargo Express.

With more than 300 products under the Dole brand name, and an international market presence that includes 90 countries, it takes a herculean effort to maintain branding guidelines at all levels of operation. Dole managers meticulously collect information from retail locations, compare Dole's presence to the competition, and flag any issues with brokers and store staff.

Largest producer of fruit in the world

1851

First year of operation

90+

Countries with Dole plants

$4.5b

Profit in 2016

Two years ago, Dole updated its field data collection strategies to integrate GoSpotCheck's mobile platform into its existing workflows. Here's what happened:

01.In-Store
Insights

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02.Consolidated
Data

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03.Stronger In-Store Presence

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04.More Engagement Among Teams

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01.Who’s Using GoSpotCheck and Why?

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.

Using GoSpotCheck, I'm able to take a direct look at what's out of stock. This knowledge is power.”

— Carole Jones, National Retail Sales Manager, U.S.

02.Consolidating Retail Data for Invaluable Insights

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.

03.Maintaining a Strong Store Presence

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.

04.Cultivating a Culture of Responsibility

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.

From a competitive standpoint, Dole wants to determine:

Are competitors using a unique point-of-sale approach?

Not all promotional offers appear in syndicated data reports. The only way to acquire this insight is through on-site surveys.

Are competitors receiving a higher percentage of facings?

Using GoSpotCheck, Dole discovered that they actually outfaced the competition by 40 percent.

Are competitor sales dropping or surging?

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.

We can grade ourselves against what our competitor is doing. We can take a look at retailers and see which ones are achieving our goals, which ones aren't, and then provide valuable feedback to the managers so when they do the next go-round of planograms, they can use that information and have a benchmark on how to improve or keep growing."

— Carole Jones, National Retail Sales Manager, U.S.

Data as Good as Gold

For people like Jones who understand the true value of data, GoSpotCheck presents almost limitless potential. A streamlined interface and user-friendly dashboards allow Jones and the rest of her team to quickly pull up their field reports and not only identify trends, but reveal the unseen market forces that drive them forward.

Having such in-depth information available is the first step to solving a problem, whether it is confined to a single location or impacts an entire market region. With greater visibility into the scope of its market presence, Dole can maintain optimal inventory levels, monitor and learn from the competition, and keep their third-party partners compliant at all times. By doing so, Dole can continue to protect its well-earned brand reputation, supplying consumers with only the freshest and highest-quality products.

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