Letting consumers work for you
A retail dilemma
You have started your own company which creates a consumer product, sold through your own web shop. The product turns out to be a big success and you decide to expand your company’s sales channels by collaborating with several big retail chains (each with multiple stores throughout the country) which will sell your product in their physical stores. After a few months, you’ve analysed sales data of these different retail chains and notice that your product is, on average, sold significantly less often in some of these stores than in others (after controlling for store reach, close competitors, etc.). You decide that it might have something to do with the stores itself; maybe your product isn’t placed in an optimal way, maybe the store personnel has little knowledge of your product? The question is; how are you going to find out whether the stores are the problem, not your product? Visiting each retail location takes too much time and can be quite costly, not a very desirable solution.
A company that can aid you in this search for information is Roamler. Roamler was founded in 2011 by two Dutch guys and can formally be described as a “retail analytics company” (Roamler, 2015a). Roamler is able to execute large scale field research in a relatively short amount of time including product placement, campaign execution, competitor prices, product usage (by consumers), and much more. Roamler’s unique feature is that it deploys consumers as its field researchers. Roamler has an app which everyone can download on his or her smartphone. Roamler send out assignments (based on their clients whishes) via this app and people can choose to accept them or not. Every correct assignment rewards them with a small amount of money. These assignment are the research targets, they can consist of taking shelf pictures, questioning personnel or testing products at home, basically anything that that Roamler is asked to investigate by its client. This task force of consumers is considerably large, with over 10.000 active ‘Roamlers’ in the Netherlands alone (Roamler, 2015b). After Roamler has gathered a sufficient amount of data from its Roamlers, they will process the data into a presentable report which its client can use to make important retail decisions.
The consumer workforce
By deploying consumers as field researchers, Roamler has found an efficient way to gather large amounts of offline data relatively quickly. The great thing is that the possibilities are endless as Roamler simply provides the service and companies can come up with any assignment. Smartphones are powerful tools and as the vast majority of the Netherlands has one (81%) (Telecompaper, 2015), developping a system which can utilize this group can be extremely effective. Furthermore, Roamler’s service is quite unique in a world where companies quickly want to digitalize to increase efficiency and data management. IT provides companies with an efficient and effective way to manage their online retail channels while Roamler (for a large part) does the same for offline channels.
I believe Roamler has found the perfect formula for using online tools to tackle offline problems. Their service has great potential and retail analytics might just be the beginning. Can you think of any other way how to use Roamler’s cheap, mobile and effective workfore? How might Roamler help your future business?
By Niek Huisman
Roamler (2015a). Over Roamler. Retrieved at 28-09-2015 from http://www.roamler.nl/About
Roamler (2015b). Personal interview. Held at 01-05-2015
Telecompaper (2015). Majority of the elderly in the Netherlands has a smartphone. As found on http://www.telecompaper.com/pressrelease/majority-of-the-elderly-in-the-netherlands-has-a-smartphone–1088067