Know Where Your Business Stands With A Retail Census

I never thought I’d be excited by anything remotely concerning the word “census”.

We all know that a census is an incredibly painful experience. The word “census” itself brings up thoughts of drudgery and tedium, and the people doing the census have the image of being boring people who you’d rather avoid.

But, if you are involved in the world of retail distribution, the decision to conduct a retail census could be the best decision you ever make for your business.

To me, the really exciting part of a retail census is that with changes in technology, it becomes an extremely effective way for companies to take control of the information that affects their business.

Information from a retail census will allow your business to prioritise resources and allocate them to those outlets that sell the most of your products, in effect to “fish where the fish are”. In developing markets like Kenya where the retail universe is so fragmented, it becomes very costly to send a salesman to every single outlet.

In addition, given traffic problems and delays in a city like Nairobi, a retail census will allow your sales team to work efficiently through customised journey plans. This drives the cost of the call down and increases time spent selling.

So, what are your options?

  1. Commissioning an independent study through an agency
  2. Buying a syndicated study
  3. Using your own resources (sales team)

Option 3 is by far the cheapest solution, and is the minimum requirement if it’s all you can afford. This is a particularly good option because it is customized for your company’s information needs.

Take advantage of technology! This is the age of the do-it-yourself (DIY) everything! You’re reading this from a device on your desk or the nearly ubiquitous mobile touch-screen device, tablet or smart-phone…that’s all you need!

Mobile technology has allowed the creation of apps including the combination of GPS mapping with interactive questionnaires to feed information into. Most of your sales team members have these mobile devices. Simply have them upload an app with input questionnaires and begin to collect a host of real-time, highly accurate information about your product and customers.

Now that’s having an information advantage!

For distributors: your reps can help you monitor the availability of your product vs. competition at different outlets

For manufacturers: collect information direct from source, rich and tailored information

For retailers: obtain information about your own branches and even competitor stores.

Want to learn more about how to do a DIY retail census? My next blog will show you how…



Patrick Gituma – Route to Market Operations Executive