The journey of a product from manufacturer to consumer involves numerous steps and players, including manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, transportation companies, retailers, and store-level employees. Each of these individuals plays a crucial role in ensuring that products arrive in good condition and are properly displayed for consumers. However, this process also exposes brands to various challenges.

Food and beverage distribution is responsible for getting these products from the point of manufacture to retail stores, where they can be purchased by consumers. This process involves handling and transporting the products through the supply chain, often using specialized distributors for specific types of products, such as seafood or fresh produce. Short-term storage facilities and refrigerated trucks may also be utilized, depending on the distance and shelf-life of the products.

This distribution system is essential for providing consumers with access to a wide range of food and beverage products, even those that cannot be grown or produced locally. It is a vital component of the retail industry.

Challenges of Tracking and Visibility in Food Distribution

Brands often struggle to accurately track their products as they move through the distribution process. They may know that their products have reached the retailer, but they may not know if they are actually being displayed on the shelf, where they are located on the shelf, or how they are being priced.

This visibility is important for brands to fully understand their product performance and gauge the success of competitors' products.

Obtaining this information can be difficult when products are being shipped to multiple locations, especially when considering the short shelf-life of many food products and the potential for damage during handling. As brands expand to wider markets, they may need to seek out alternative solutions that can provide them with the insights they need to thrive.

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SmartSpotter provides brands with a holistic view of the shelf that can paint a larger picture of your retail category

SmartSpotter is a tool that allows brands to gain a complete understanding of their performance in retail settings. This can be especially valuable for brands facing distribution and visibility challenges, as was the case for an Australian snack foods brand that used the service.

The brand had data showing that their products were being delivered to stores, but they were unable to determine if they were actually being displayed on shelves. To address this issue and gather more information about the placement and visibility of their products, as well as the presence of competitors' products, SmartSpotter deployed a network of mystery shoppers to thousands of store locations. These shoppers collected pictures and data in near real-time, highlighting problematic stores and potential promotional partners for the brand.

By tracking distribution and competitive intelligence key performance indicators month-over-month, the brand was able to allocate resources more efficiently and improve their share of shelf at various retail locations. They were also able to make more informed decisions based on the distribution data they received from other channels.

How SmartSpotter Can Benefit Your Brand

SmartSpotter offers a range of services designed to help brands better understand their performance in retail settings. By utilizing a network of mystery shoppers, SmartSpotter can visit many stores in a shorter time than an in-house field team might. These shoppers can report on the availability and condition of a brand's products, as well as their location and display, and can even provide photos of the shelf to help brands identify other potential issues.

With this customized data, brands can identify specific stores that may not be meeting their standards and take steps to improve their performance. SmartSpotter can also provide a comprehensive view of the retail category, allowing brands to track the success of competitors' products and identify potential partnerships with complementary brands.

Using the data and insights provided by SmartSpotter, brands can make data-driven decisions that benefit their share of shelf, distribution efforts, and more.

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