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The smarts behind the smart phone

When it comes to consumer packaged goods execution at retail, it seems like everyone is thinking about mobile apps. With new reporting features and instant uploads from the field, smart phones are making execution on the shelf and at point of purchase more efficient. Meanwhile, on the back end, analytics can crunch the numbers, and show you just how effective your last campaign was.

Like the ads say: there’s an app for that. And these days smart phones are plenty smart, with built-in intelligence that enables geolocation and time stamping with the push of a button. But what really puts the smarts into smart phones are the people behind the tool. And when it comes to “the last mile” at retail, that’s where people can really make a difference. Mobile apps combined with a large pool of workers able to swing into action at a moment’s notice are revolutionizing the way merchandizing works.

Effective merchandising depends on qualified people able to perform consistently in widely dispersed geographic locations.  Unfortunately this is an industry that regularly experiences 30 to 40% turnover.  No matter what app you choose, or what mobile solution you deploy, your ability to roll out promotions, keep shelves stocked, and product in inventory depends on maintaining a merchandising staff of qualified people, with reliable track records.

That’s where Gigwalk can help. We provide a pool of workers across the country that numbers more than 300,000. While a large pool of workers is valuable, it’s the ability to find the right workers, with the right skills that make the difference at retail. Our mobile technology tracks worker performance, reliability, quality of work, punctuality, and accuracy.  With Gigwalk our clients can use our mobile data sets to get the best quality work without guesswork. Using proprietary data analytics that rival the approach made famous in Moneyball, you can find the workers you need, with the right skills, a track record of proven results, and quantified experience, backed up by hard data. That means you can hire people based on their observed work history, before they start on your project.

We use technology to take the work out of workforce hiring. We spot talent, and put people to work. Instead of spending time advertising and responding to Craigslist help wanted ads, recruiting, and training employees, Gigwalk technology can filter our enormous database of trusted Gigwalkers and pinpoint just the ones with the skills you require to get the job done right. We don’t just eliminate guesswork, we eliminate paperwork, too. Because Gigwalkers work for us as independent contractors, you don’t have to hassle with paperwork, training, and the expense of bringing on new employees.

At the end of the day mobile is a tool like any other. It takes a skilled person to get the best out of it. That includes reliability, quality of work, punctuality, and accuracy – the things that matter most when it comes to merchandising at retail. 

Gigwalk on Bloomberg Businessweek

Bloomberg Businessweek wrote about what we call our Moneyball Engine earlier this week. Moneyball is the statistical algorithm for how we pair the best worker for the jobs or “Gigs” posted on Gigwalk - and yes, it was inspired by the book/movie of the same name. For those of you who are not familiar with Moneyball, the story goes like this:

The 2002 Oakland A’s were the third least funded team in Major League Baseball. They needed to figure out how to compete when they could not afford the most sought-after talent.

Traditionally, baseball players were recruited using stats such as RBI, stolen bases, and batting average. By applying mathematical models to player statistics however, The A’s management team learned that those factors are not the best predictor of offensive success for a player. The statistics that really mattered are actually on-base percentage and slugging percentage. So they used these statistics to recruit players for the 2002 season. 

The result? The Oakland A’s made it to the playoffs, and set a record for the largest winning streak in the American League in 2002. The Boston Red Sox followed suit the next year and took the pennant.

Here at Gigwalk, we believe that temporary workers can be hired using a similar model to what the A’s used in 2002. We aggregate billions of data points on each Gigwalker monthly via our Moneyball algorithm to figure out what skills really matter to successful completion of a Gig, and match workers who have demonstrated those skills to the right Gig. 

Read the Bloomberg article, or contact us to learn more.

Timing is Everything in Back to School Retail

The New York Times recently profiled a major trend - retailers are already starting to advertise back-to-school deals for the 2013-2014 school year. All this is with good reason; back-to-school shopping is big business. Over the course of the summer, consumers will spend an estimated $83 billion dollars (according to the National Retail Federation) on everything from notebooks to college supplies.

But what’s the impact of the back-to-school rush on retailers? The vast majority of customers will visit stores during weekends in August. Timing is always critical in retail and a great deal of attention is paid to this during the winter holidays. It’s also important that stores and suppliers have smart retail execution strategies for the lucrative back-to-school shopping period.

Most people leave back-to-school shopping to the last minute

According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 72% of customers plan to do their back-to-school shopping in the last month before school starts. 24% of them will wait until the final week or two. The reality is that this creates a hectic environment in stores. With less time to correct mistakes and shoppers in a rush, a mispriced product or an unstocked shelf can cost you sales.

Tax free weekends get people out the door….on Saturdays and Sundays in August

Another major factor around the country are tax-free weekends. Designed to get shoppers into stores, some states suspend sales tax for one weekend a year. These often fall during prime school shopping season during the month of August. (Here’s a list of 2013 tax-free weekends around the country). Many believe that it’s major purchases – like a new car or computer – that benefit most from tax free weekends.

In reality, cash-strapped consumers save up to buy a variety of items during this weekend. A stunning 85% of those surveyed by the NRF reported adjusting their spending based on the economy. Yet the savings isn’t enough: Forbes recently underscored the importance of good customer service, well-stocked shelves, and generally sharp retail during tax free weekends to convert foot traffic into sales.

Marketers are creating “holidays” like “Back to School Saturday

If people’s natural inclinations aren’t enough to get them out the door, retailers are working hard to create incentives that will. Teen Vogue has partnered with 50 brands to sponsor August 10th’s Back to School Saturday. The multi-brand event uses the Conde Nast publication, mobile apps, and more to help get consumers into stores. It’s just one more reason why any problems with retail execution need to be fixed as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, Gigwalk can send our on-demand mobile workforce whenever and wherever you need them.  Not only will they identify problems at retail, but they’ll fix them as they’re found. Finding problems quickly is great, but fixing them quickly is how you make the sale.

Request a demo today and we’ll show you how we can help you have your most successful year yet.

Gigwalk CTO and Founder Matt Crampton on HuffPost Live’s Tech Game Changers

Matt was interviewed on HuffPost Live’s Tech Game Changers about Gigwalk, Gigwalkers, and the state of the job market. Click on the image below to watch the video!

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Influence $12 Billion Dollars in Consumer Spending

What if you could influence $12 billion dollars in consumer spending with something as simple as an in-store promotion.

According to the NRF, 41.4% of back to school shoppers are influenced by in-store promotions. So if each of those shoppers spends $688 (also according to the NRF), that’s over $12 billion dollars of back to school spending that’s been influenced by something as simple as an in-store promotion.

Not that back to school promotions are simple. For over a decade, back to school marketing campaigns have gotten more intricate, complicated and data-driven thanks to reporting that online and mobile technology has enabled. It doesn’t stop there.

Take Office depot – Their 2013 back-to-school promotion includes all the regular tactics - digital ads, website content, video, etc. They also took their campaign to another level, partnering with British boy band, One Direction to deliver a message against bullying and sponsoring their North American summer tour. Office Depot is also releasing a line of school supplies featuring One Direction with an anti-bullying messaging to bring their back to school campaign full circle.

As back to school campaigns get more robust, the in-store promotions that go with them get more and more important. With the right promotions, a back-to-school campaign gets the best chance to succeed. They connect the brand to the product at-retail, and give shoppers the right incentive to buy. In case you’re wondering, incentives are a necessity. According to Experian, back to school shoppers are still price sensitive due to economic uncertainty, and the NRF says 51.1% of shoppers are shopping for sales more often because of it.

 

Let’s say you did everything right. You launched a robust and engaging marketing campaign that gets the heart of what your target cares about, and what they love, made sure to hit all the right touch points throughout the season and get your customer in the store to buy your product.  What’s the worst that could happen?

Well, your product could be out of stock, or even worse, your product could be readily available, but nowhere to be found. Then there’s always the possibility that a retail associate put a competitor’s product in the back-to-school display you bought. There goes all the hard work, dollars and planning down the drain.

While there have been amazing advances in marketing technology, and though shoppers are starting to buy more of their products online, Brick and mortar stores are still where most back-to-school shopping happens. Only 40% of back to school shoppers plan to do any of their shopping online. Since price and promotions factor so much in back to school shopper’s decisions, can you afford to leave your in-store promotions to chance?

 

Request a demo and we’ll help you guarantee nothing gets in the way of your back to school campaigns and the sale.

Pencils, Books and… Shampoo?

This is the second in a 4-part series on back to school retail. Read part 1 here 

Back to school is usually dominated by school supplies, apparel, and shoes. However, even industries not usually associated with back to school can benefit from the second biggest spending season of the year for retail. Here’s why:

1.) Increased Retail Foot Traffic:

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Discount stores are well known for carrying pretty much everything. Need to get gardening supplies, a casserole dish, some new socks, and a 300 pack of mailing labels all in one day? Chances are shoppers won’t go to 4 different stores, when they can buy all of them in one place.  Is it any wonder that discount stores benefit the most from back to school shopping? Two out of three shoppers went to discount stores in 2012 for their back to school needs (more than any other type), so any product sold in the Walmarts and Targets of the world can benefit from the the back-to-school crowds.

2.) Extra Spending Power From Your Customers:

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From August 2-4th 11 different states are offering shoppers a tax free weekend on school supplies, clothing, computers, books, and even sports equipment. But that doesn’t mean other goods have to feel left out. According to research by The Washington Economics Group, sales of non-taxable goods at large retailers during Florida’s 2010 tax-free holiday increased by 35% when compared to the year before. This is a huge opportunity for other industries. Consumers have more money to spend because of sales tax holidays. Make sure your product is attracting the customer’s attention.

3.) Back to College:

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While the little ones head back to the classrooms, we can’t forget about the 17-23 year olds heading to college. In 2012, they spent 63% more than back to school shoppers, representing $53.5 Billion dollars of the back to school pie.  That’s $53.5 Billion dollars spent on things like extra-long twin-sized bed sheets, Easy Mac (the new Ramen Noodle), futons, televisions, and those little white boards that stick to the front of your door.  74% of college shoppers bought personal care items, 69% stocked up on food, 54% got electronics and 47% spent to furnish their dorm room.

So while we may be back to the season of pencils, books and teachers’ dirty looks, don’t forget that back to school can be a fruitful season for anyone. Do you work in housewares, consumer electronics, or inexpensive, microwavable pasta dishes? Treat this like you would any other season with increased sales, and make sure your retail execution is flawless

We can help with that – Request a demo to learn how

Who is Doing the Work on Gigwalk?

A couple of weeks ago, Fox in Atlanta featured Gigwalker John F., who took them around while he did a couple of Gigs. You can watch the video here.

If you’ve ever wondered who Gigwalkers are - He’s a great example of the hard-working, skilled and genuinely good people that are doing work on Gigwalk. 

Want to hire people like John to get work done? Contact us to sign up for a demo

What happens in Northwest Arkansas, stays in Northwest Arkansas… well not really

Bob and I spent most of last week in beautiful Bentonville, Arkansas. With a population of a little over 36,000 people, the tenth largest city in the state is best known as the home of Walmart. Our mission for this trip: to welcome aboard and train a new team member, meet with customers and partners, and for me to personally learn how this town fits into the inner-workings of the world’s largest retailer. I was mystified: how could this massive global entity run its operations from this place, which takes at least one if not two connections to get to by plane? I wanted to see first hand what it was like to do business in this environment, with its international powerhouse embedded in small town America.

Smallville meets Walmartlandia

Bentonville, Rogers, and Fayetteville form a triumvirate of modest cities, each with its own idyllic streets, green landscaping and friendly landmarks. Sam Walton’s original Five and Dime sits in the center of Bentonville town square. Who could have predicted that tidy little store with its bright red awnings would be the beginnings of a burgeoning multinational corporation that now has 2.2 million employees, nearly 11,000 retail locations worldwide and a $256 Bn+ market cap.

While touring around Bentonville, Walmart’s presence is palpable. Their  home office may look like a standard store location (or a high school), but don’t let its no nonsense appearance fool you. It’s clear Walmart is the focus of the local economy, and that its simple set up and surroundings help deliver on its “every day low prices”.


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Walmart Home Office kind of looks like my suburban high school

Buy local, sell global

Sometimes referred to as “Vendorville”, Bentonville features tastefully outfitted strip malls and short stack office parks full of F100 companies — brands you wouldn’t normally find on plaza marquee signage more suitable for your drycleaner, karate dojo, and favorite greasy spoon. Though not required to establish a local office, many top brands do. They recognize the convenience of doing business by strolling over to headquarters, and the value of not just meeting face to face but of building lasting relationships. Retail can be a family business, with multiple generations proudly participating. To be in with WMT and its ecosystem of suppliers, it truly helps to be local. Folks talk retail wherever you go, at Starbucks, on the golf course, and during their kids’ gymnastics practice and soccer games.

There’s no place like Art-kansas

Walmart also prevails upon the cultural scene. Designed by Moshe Safdie, Alice Walton’s $450M state-of-the-art Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art houses signature works of Americana, from Georgia O’Keefe to Norman Rockwell. Admission is free and sponsored by none other than Walmart. Institutions like Crystal Bridges have earned Bentonville the lofty status as one of Travel & Leisure’s Hottest Travel Destinations.

Bentonville’s first family also established the Walton Arts Center which happened to be featuring the The Price is Right Live! This touring production was quite the spectacle, especially when Bob was called on stage to name the price of a guitar.  

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Bob, our fearless CEO, live on The Price is Right!

Other notable institutions include the chic art gallery concept hotel 21c Bentonville, one of three national locations, and the incredible Donald W Reynolds Razorback Stadium, where the Razorbacks play. A structural monument in its own right, Reynolds Stadium sits amidst tidy treelined streets who bear witness to tens of thousands of enthusiastic fans screaming, “Go Hogs!”


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Outside 21c. This made me really want to play basketball.

Introducing Gigwalk’s newest team member: Luke

Back to business. The best part of our trip? Hands down, meeting with customers and spending quality time with our two dedicated team members who live there. Joe Tomandao took us to all these neat places, showing us the best of Northwest Arkansan hospitality while Luke Macken, our latest rockstar addition to Gigwalk Sales, got up to speed on how we apply Gigwalk to address our customer needs. Born and bred in Arkansas, Luke brings over twelve years of experience working with Walmart across categories. His shopper marketing, in-store events, and account management background means he can effectively walk and talk the Gigwalk with the brands and thoughtleaders we meet. It seems like everyone in “The Natural State” knows Luke, which isn’t a surprise given his warm smile and good natured approach to doing business.

All in all, we had a wonderful week plotting, planning, and advancing Gigwalk’s future. I may not be in Arkansas anymore, but I’m glad we have a great team out there to further grow our business and I can’t wait to go back. Next time, I’d like to visit the lake, see if I can find more "Walmart art" and try the fried chicken.

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Yours truly. Just couldn’t help myself at Kellogg’s local office.

p.s. by the way, if you’d like to join the team, Gigwalk is definitely hiring!

 

~Tanya Loh, Director of Customer and Business Development

5 Reasons Your Back-to-School Retail Execution Must Be Flawless

As the 2012 – 2013 school year wraps up, most people are thinking of summer plans, beach days, and long-awaited vacations. But the end of the year signals an important opportunity for retailers and consumer goods companies to plan their back-to-school specials.

Parents spent $83 billion dollars on back-to-school items last year, ranging from backpacks and notebooks to housewares and other dorm gear for college students. With a shopping period that runs from July to September, it’s key to make the most of this important retail opportunity. Here are five reasons why it’s crucial that your shelves stay stocked, creative displays look their best, and customer service teams get it right every time.

1.) It’s lucrative: If your biggest sales are from the Christmas holidays, you’re not alone. But back-to-school is the second biggest time of year for retail, second only to the winter holiday season. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers spend more than more than Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter and Father’s Day combined. Making the most of this opportunity requires being at the top of your game.

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2.) There are incentives: Many states now offer an annual tax-free weekend, an event that saves buyers between 5% and 8%. These events often coincide with the period around Labor Day, which is a hot time for back-to-school shopping. Here’s a partial list of tax free weekends on the schedule for 2013. Buyers head out to stock up on a variety of supplies, and often these weekends are hectic for stores. Great retail support ensures that any problems are quickly addressed and that you don’t lose sales.

3.) Discount stores are getting a big share of the business: An estimated 67% of customers expect to head to to discount stores.Two key factors are at play: the desire for multiple product options and strong price sensitivity. A stunning 85% of consumers surveyed are adjusting their spending in response to the economy. Getting your pricing right is key, from making sure that your items are properly priced on the shelves to the fact that discounts and promotions are running smoothly.

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4.) The opportunity to reach young consumers: Younger consumers are a hot demographic, and back-to-school promotions are a great time to reach them. Three quarters of parents surveyed said that their children influence back-to-school shopping decisions. Tweens and teens spend anywhere between an average of $25 and $36 dollars of their own money in connection with this time of year. Are your promotions and deals focused on helping you capture their attention?

5.) Tight turnarounds: 75% of people shop in the month before school starts, making this period both profitable and critical to your retail turnaround. Another 47.8% do some shopping at least one month before the start of the school year. The result is a tight turnaround for retail execution from late July to late August, along with the importance of ensuring a high quality shopping experience on an ongoing basis throughout the summer.

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With so much at stake this summer, have you planned out your retail execution strategy? Gigwalk’s mobile workforce can conduct pricing audits, stock checks, mystery shopping, market research, and more. Request a demo today and we’ll show you how we can help you have your most successful back-to-school season yet.