Mondelz International Inc., a multinational manufacturer of such food productsas Oreo cookies and Cadbury Eggs candy, recently rolled out mobile technology that allows its merchandisers and sales reps to visit retail locations and make sure its products are stacked, promoted and served up the way Mondelz wants across some 26 countries. Eventually, the company wants to achieve that level of standardization across the 140 countries where it sells its products, says Chris Ogorzalek, who heads the company’s North America information systems for sales operations.

Mondelz divides its business into two segments, which it calls “traditional” and “modern” trade. In the traditional model, the company sells its products to distributors that then resell them to mostly smaller retailers, or retail locations in emerging markets. Mondelz considers it modern trade when the manufacturer delivers directly to retail locations and its merchandisers arrange the display on the retail shelf. Mondelz deploys its modern trade strategy in such developed markets such as the United States and United Kingdom to its tens of thousands of stores operated by big chain retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and The Kroeger Co.

About two years ago, the company decided to standardize its process of selling and merchandising across both business styles in 140 countries. “We have more than 40,000 salespeople,” Ogorzalek said at a conference this week. “To be able to equip them mobiley and enable real-time data brings us one step closer to real-time analytics and insights and leads to us being a lot more productive across markets.”

But standardizing selling and merchandising—and measuring which factors defined success—didn’t come easy across markets, he said at StayinFront Cafe, a customer advisory forum hosted in Chicago by StayinFront, a provider of cloud-based software designed to help consumer products goods manufacturers monitor and manage how their goods are merchandised in stores. In countries like Hong Kong, Mondelz has a very high rate of turnover of sales staff from year to year. Employees would switch jobs, making it hard to maintain a system of managing merchandise displays in stores. The company needed a software system that could be learned easily and was user-friendly, Ogorzalek said.

Mondelz also wanted to equip sales reps with technology that was easy to carry and could process orders offline, says Maria Merkle, Mondelez’s senior information systems manager for retail sales. Company sales reps had been using software installed on laptops to take notes about customers. After visiting accounts, employees had to return to the home office and rekey in orders and customer information into the Mondelz order management system. This wasted time, and sales reps also resented lugging around the heavy, battery inefficient device, Merkle says.

advertisement

After considering trade promotion management software from a few providers, the company chose to deploy StayinFront TouchCG, an Internet-based mobile software that provides selling, analytics and management reporting tools, to approximately 10,000 Mondelz sales reps in 26 countries. Each is equipped with an Android smartphone installed with StayinFront software. Merkle says employees spent half a day learning the system, and then were sent in the field to use the software that afternoon.

The StayinFront software lets Mondelz sales reps use their tablets to record photographs of in-store merchandise displays and enter information about what was sold and delivered to each retail location they visit. The software also pulls information from store point-of-sale systems on sales of Mondelz products. That allows Mondelz to easily analyze the results of trade promotions—for example, when Oreos were supposed to be stocked and displayed and priced in a particular way at a store. If sales were less than expected, while merchandise displays were not properly arranged or stocked with the right products, for example, Mondelz reps can use that information to work with retail store managers to ensure that the store properly implements future promotions. If sales do meet expectations, the reps can use the information to encourage managers in other stores to follow suit.

Mondelz uses the software to standardize sets of key performance indicators, such as the share of shelf space and number of units sold for particular regions or groups of stores, while also letting sales reps in each region choose two KPI’s to monitor according to what they believe is most important in their market. At the same time, Mondelz maintains at its New Jersey headquarters information on a total of 32 KPIs for each region in which it sells. “Collecting information behind the scenes helps us give more control over our local reps,” says Ogorzalek. “It allows us to keep our key performance indicators consistent between each market and role.”

Mondelz also has largely standardized content on its tablets based on what it has found to be the most effective merchandise displays, enabling sales reps to spend less time preparing such content for pitching promotions to retailers and have more time to sell, Merkle says.

StayinFront TouchCG integrated easily with the company’s SAP SE enterprise resource planning, or ERP system, Merkle says. Mondelz uses the ERP software to organize its inventory and financial records. The company declined to comment on the cost of deploying StayinFront.

advertisement

StayinFront CEO Tom Buckley says the cost to deploy StayinFront ranges from about $50,000 to $500,000, partly based on the number of software systems a company needs to tie into it; ongoing monthly subscriptions for StayinFront, which is deployed in the software-as-a-service model, range from about $30 to $60 per user per month, he adds. SaaS lets a client company access software through a web browser without having to run it on its own network infrastructure.

Sign up for a free subscription to B2BecNews, a newsletter that covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B e-commerce industry. B2BecNews is published by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes the monthly business magazine Internet Retailer. Follow Nona Tepper, associate editor for B2B e-commerce, on Twitter @ntepper90.

Favorite