Few buying decisions are as emotional — or as meticulous and methodical — as the ones that involve babies. For example, consider the stroller.
“Buying a baby stroller is not a personal impulse,” says Christopher Grech-Cini, a sales manager at Baby Jogger® who works exclusively with independent retailers. “It’s a family event. Consumers research products online and then visit the store to touch, feel, and try long before they make a purchase.”
Grech-Cini would know. He’s been working in the baby retail category for more than 28 years, and currently manages independent retailer relationships for one of the world’s most well-known niche brands. As one of 150 popular Newell brands including Rubbermaid®, Paper Mate®, and Crockpot™, Baby Jogger® strives to provide a range of products that are durable, versatile, and high quality.
In the UK, where Grech-Cini works, those award-winning strollers are available both online and offline through approximately 100 independent retailers. Each one plays an essential role in the consumer buying journey.
With both online and offline distribution channels playing an equally important role in Baby Jogger®’s success, Grech-Cini says the two need each other to thrive.
“I manage both high street retailers and online retailers, which together form an ecosystem — one that’s extremely important to maintain,” he explains. “In my experience, one doesn’t work without the other. So I need to keep them all happy and healthy.”
Grech-Cini says it’s vital to maintain carefully crafted assortments and product prices, and that he’s seen other products in his space “die” because of an imbalance he describes in cautionary tones: First, he says, high discounts online lead to reduced sales offline. Then offline stores push products off the floor, which eventually leads to reduced visibility and, ultimately, lower online sales.
After watching this scenario play out among competitors, Grech-Cini says he realised that one of the most important goals for his company would be balancing online and offline partnerships.
“It was critical to find a solution that would allow us to achieve two equally important goals,” he explains. “We need to manage the expectations of high street retailers and, at the same time, feed the hungry mouths of e-commerce retailers with the promotional activities they need to succeed online.”
To help with this process, Grech-Cini turned to ChannelAdvisor Brand Analytics. He says the platform has made a tremendous difference in his ability to build and maintain harmony, and that he relies on it regularly to supervise the state of Baby Jogger®’s distribution online.
Specifically, he uses Brand Analytics to monitor daily, weekly and monthly trends at the product and retailer levels.
“With the daily notifications, we see the big shifts immediately,” he says. “And each month, we have a Brand Analytics meeting where I present the data with the Baby Jogger® UK sales and marketing teams, so we can come up with an action plan. When Brand Analytics highlights retailers with limited products, we use this information to initiate a discussion with that retailer and see if they can improve things.”
According to Grech-Cini, Baby Jogger® is able to rely on Brand Analytics reports to ensure retailers are adopting products and diversifying offers, and to keep track of trends in the marketplace.
“After tracking for a while, we can start to identify patterns,” he says. “We can see who is driving sales activity and where it’s coming from, and we can take action to ensure retailers adopt more products and diversify their offers.”
In one instance, for example, Brand Analytics showed him which retailers had not engaged in a particular promotion that the brand subsidised. As a result, Grech-Cini says he was able to reach out in a timely manner and identify different ways the brand could be helpful to those partners.
“The data also helps us better understand different situations from the retailers’ points of view,” he explains. “What is it like for them to sell our products? How much do they earn? If margin is low when the high street retailers align with online retailers, we could have an explanation as to why they’re not promoting a product in-store and can therefore act accordingly.”
Grech-Cini says that, over the course of six months, Baby Jogger® was able to increase the number of retailer product URLs by 50.4%.
And it’s not just online retailers that have experienced a measurable difference. Grech-Cini says efforts to balance multichannel distribution have paid off for offline distribution, too. Most notably, he says there’s been a measurable increase in the number of in-store retailers that sell and promote Baby Jogger®.
“We’ve been able to open 11 new doors and, maybe more importantly, reactivate five doors that had fallen out of love with the brand because they couldn’t make margin.”
“Without ChannelAdvisor Brand Analytics, I would be blind,” he says. “It would be almost impossible to check those metrics manually, so it definitely gets my eyes wide open and helps us understand what’s happening in the marketplace.”