A Consumer’s Fresh Eye on the World of Retail Execution: Crowdsourcing


written by Richard Burton, global director of customer success at Exceedra by telus

Crowdfunding has been used across the world now to help raise money or fund ideas that would previously have required backing from major financial institutions to get them off the ground.


In a similar vein, Crowdsourcing related to Retail Execution looks to distribute the effort required to collect and audit stores away from dedicated Field Sales resources or third-party audit companies and instead, to appropriately place resources geographically local to the store in question. There is some irony in the terms that develop around business when we consider the current state of global affairs where crowds are a point of concern rather than a point of value!

Crowdsourcing is not new – the concept was introduced over the past decade for Retail Execution, however the ability to really deliver on the ask is a challenge. According to a survey run by the Promotion Optimization Institute (POI) in 2016, over 56% of manufacturers polled felt that merchandising activities could be crowdsourced.


There are a large variety of activities to audit from shelf assortment, price, promotion, and display information, along with product availability. Merchandising is a labor-intensive activity all retailers understand as a fundamental mechanism to encourage buying behaviors. In general, product diversity has made this activity even more complex, so how do the manufacturers get a level of confidence that the consumer is seeing their product – at the right price that day – in the range of stores they are planning across?  This is one of the many feature requirements that all Retail Execution systems will provide their users.


The objective of a store audit carried out on behalf of the manufacturer is to capture the information, qualifying whether the merchandising by the retailer has been accurate against the commercial agreements agreed with the manufacturer. Crowdsourcing changes the ownership of this process.

Crowdsourcing Shelf Audit

In the space of a few years, technology has further improved to allow for more efficient store audits.  How a consumer reacts to a retailer’s pricing and promotion strategy can give us many helpful insights but if the promotion is not executed in-store as planned, analysis becomes more subjective.  Crowdsourcing is one of the tools used to help distribute the responsibility to carry out this audit. We will investigate other features that help manufacturers and retailers work effectively together as part of this introductory blog series on Retail Execution.

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