"This product gives you the ability to measure share of shelf changes over time, across different geographies. The central repository becomes critical for manufacturers that want to go the next step."
CSAB was able to deliver the plans in less than three months, much faster than its larger competitors. The customer asked if they could take on additional locations and eventually CSAB took over the whole country.
Eye On The Consumer
Hodnett believes that one of the biggest advantages that CSAB has over its rivals is a keen understanding of the consumer. The company has done extensive research and analysis on consumer purchasing behaviors in the beverage aisle.
"Category blurring makes it difficult for consumers to find the products they're looking for. Our research has found that consumers find the beverage aisle overwhelming," he says. "We also found that customers are looking for convenience."
CSAB has used this research to develop a virtual store, which it is testing in three supermarket chains. Every single SKU that is found in an actual store is in the virtual store, so retailers can experiment with the layout of products in the stores without having to change them. Consumers go through the virtual store using a joystick, and the software can determine what their buying preferences and habits are.
"Consumers will tell you one thing but do another," says Hodnett. "Virtual technology enables you to see what they actually do-and you don't have to have the expense to test that out."
The mistake retailers often make, Hodnett says, it to try to differentiate with lower pricing strategies alone. "They think they've got to be the low-price leader vs. being competitive while leveraging other consumer benefits in their stores," he says. "If you can make it easier for the customer to identify what's in the store, purchase it quickly and efficiently and then get out, that's a big value to the consumer. That's what our research tells us."
Hodnett reiterates that its all about speed to shelf. "Whoever gets to the shelf fastest, with their strategies, is the winner. We're always challenged with how we can do this faster and JDA really helped us get there.
"As we have proven, innovation isn't limited to the biggest players in the category," says Hodnett. "These tools are enabling us to out-think our competitors."