As we closed out 2020, all data sources pointed towards households reverting to pre-Covid behaviours and a return to a more consistent and predictable purchasing rhythm. Sporadic outbreaks aside, the supermarket industry was returning to something close to normality. The back half of 2021 however has seen disruption and uncertainty return in a major way as the third wave of Covid-19 hit without warning and hit hard; but at Strikeforce, we’re more than prepared. We recognised that with the agility and flexibility of our industry-leading systems, data-driven insight and people we remain well equipped to deliver positive outcomes for our stakeholders.
Strikeforce is uniquely positioned to navigate both retail and supplier partners through these trying times in areas like smoothing out the supply chain and ensuring shelves remain fully stocked despite Covid-driven in-store restrictions being implemented to ensure the safety of staff and customers. Our infrastructure, scale, coverage, and enablement through technology ensure optimal outcomes.
1. Providing retailers with flexible & responsive systems
Covid impacted regional areas the hardest due to the sheer size of Australia and its geographical layout. Subsequent lockdowns have further exacerbated the situation with further restrictions and measures having a detrimental impact. The need for scaling and scope, along with localised approaches remain necessary – something Strikeforce’s merchandising services continue to provide.
In house teams don’t have the same flexibility and agility notwithstanding accruing leave entitlements. An uncertain outlook and a volatile environment are increasingly influencing suppliers to shine a spotlight on and question the viability of maintaining in-house resources at a fixed cost for no return during “down times” when they are unable to call on retail stores.
At Strikeforce, we continue to partner with leading retailers like Woolworths, Bunnings, and Coles, supporting brands and suppliers, covering all trading channels with over 3500 merchandising and sales experts calling on stores weekly.
Our system is further backed by insights, which is how we best coordinate our core service of merchandising in stores and outlets – the largest of its kind across Australia and New Zealand. It has helped expand on our flexibility and our priorities through the pandemic, helping us understand our community and localising our responses, where needed.
- A decrease in unproductive travel time.
- Ability to cope with activity on short notice, when resourcing gaps appear.
- An unmatched level of passion.
- Targeted data-led precision.
- Coverage across 99.9 per cent of Australia and New Zealand.
2. Building profit with scale and precision
Brands have quickly identified that commuting patterns are directly affecting demand. Substitution remains a real and ever-present threat meaning brands need to work even harder to maintain support from brand loyalists. Brands face a challenge to win back lapsed buyers lost during lockdown periods by amplifying product placement as access to stores opens again. This is where industry-leading experience, knowledge and people come to the fore.
The future scope of merchandising services lies in an organisations ability to flex and scale up or down depending on the circumstances with precision, driven by information and knowledge to drive demonstrable ROI for every dollar invested.
Effective supply chain management, scale and in-store support are integral components of the end-to-end provided by Strikeforce. With 95 years of experience in the field and the capability to respond to every demand; our team has intimate knowledge of stores across every region in Australia.
Merx, our cloud-based app developed in-house, enables us to provide real-time updates along with control over field teams. Merx is the enabler of flexibility on the fly and lays out the roadmap to be in multiple places a day, with the optimal route, conducting efficient, data-driven activations.
Data-driven insight from our category and insights team ensures Strikeforce is calling on the right stores, in the right locations at the right time. This approach enables us to set benchmarks, reduce and eliminate wastage and most importantly, adapt efficiently and effectively irrespective of these unprecedented times.
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About the author: Stephen Wilson is category & insights manager at Strikeforce.