We live in a world where speed matters more than ever. As management consulting firm McKinsey & Company puts it, “The need for speed has never been greater.” Businesses have many reasons for moving rapidly and reaching (sometimes aggressive) milestones. They include:

    • Responding quickly to changes in operation due to the pandemic
    • Capitalizing immediately on a consumer or business trend
    • Bringing a new product to market
    • Driving sales through seasonal promotions
    • Launching a new brand or marketing campaign

In all of these scenarios, time is of the essence. Often, they may occur all at once. Keeping each element and each campaign on track and responding quickly to the unexpected are keys to merchandising and marketing success. Staying one step (or even one hour) ahead of your competitors can give you a huge brand advantage

Great Marketing and Merchandising Aren’t Enough

Those who work for and with multi-location brands know all too well that marketing campaigns and merchandising can be complex. Knowing your target market and developing great omnichannel creative approaches to reach them is just the first step in producing a winning campaign. All of the elements must arrive to the location on time and on budget. Because brick-and-mortar merchandising is now seamlessly integrated with digital programs, all parts must come together like clockwork (literally).

That said, companies should never have to sacrifice quality and cost when executing programs. By selecting partners and vendors with broad and deep experience, they can move more rapidly and avoid errors and cost overruns.

Planning and Communication Are Essential

As you map out your marketing campaign or new effort, engaging your execution partner early on will build a spirit of teamwork and even unearth production alternatives that can save time and money.

IMS Retail works as an extension of our clients’ creative and marketing or merchandising teams, mapping out timelines and execution plans that work for everyone and are accessible via the cloud, 24/7. As you create your plan, be sure to take into account:

    • Approval times (especially if you work in a heavily regulated industry)
    • Versioning¬†and translations for specific markets
    • Time differences for national and global campaigns
    • Shipping delays as a result of weather or holiday volume

Flawless communication throughout the process is necessary from start to finish, ensuring the many professionals involved in creating a launch or campaign are tuned in to the status of a project, including glitches and their solutions.

One-Stop Shopping Is Invaluable

Working with one seasoned execution partner can save you hours of time and aggravation. IMS has a huge network of trusted and experienced vendors, and our reverse auction system allows our clients to gain the benefit of the most competitive price without compromising quality in the products.

A high-quality vendor network takes years to build, but it pays off in speed, cost and quality. Knowing where to turn for a highly customized item or a last-minute change ensures clients get exactly what they need when they need it. In-house creative capabilities can be very beneficial, too, especially if you need versioning or last-minute updates to materials.

Logistics Must Be Fine-Tuned

Expertise in warehousing, logistics, and inventory management is also essential and can make a huge difference in hitting (or even beating) dates and saving money. State-of-the-art automation also allows you to view real-time data about every campaign element and respond quickly when inventory is running low.

Having the right team of problem-solvers is critical to moving quickly. You want to work with professionals who share your sense of urgency and respond quickly and calmly to challenges or direction changes. The professionals at the end of the production chain are usually the ultimate troubleshooters and problem-solvers. They are agile, creative and adept at dealing with the unexpected.

Following every campaign execution, we use our data to improve processes for upcoming projects. This continuous (and automated) learning loop ensures that we close the gap between our current 99% on-time rate and that coveted 100% mark.

Speed Will Be Even More Important in the Years Ahead

As brick-and-mortar businesses strive to compete with online-only challengers, creating a vibrant, ever-changing and relevant shopping experience becomes even more critical at the point of sale.

Plus, consumers who view advertising online will expect the in-store experience to mirror what they viewed on their large or small screens. Delivering on the promise with compelling branded signage, displays and collateral must be timed to match other marketing elements.

Working with professionals who can consistently meet and beat deadlines can lead to stronger sales, fewer errors and greater control over data and analytics.

Article Author: Deirdre Kerrigan

Deirdre Kerrigan is Vice President / Executive Account Director at Integrated Merchandising Solutions, LLC. As a client service and operations manager with a proven record of enhancing customer relationships, her background also includes extensive experience in strategic client management for Fortune 500 customers with an emphasis on operations and process improvements.