HighJump Software is looking to help direct-store-delivery companies more efficiently collect and analyze competitive data from retail locations.
The company's new Survey Management solution, announced March 31, includes a Web-based server-side product for administering and analyzing competitive surveys, and a data collection solution that runs on a handheld device.
According to Chad Collins, vice president of global strategy for HighJump Software, a 3M company, many of his company's DSD clients already have people running other HighJump supply chain solutions on handheld devices in the field, and want to enable them to collect information on competing products.
"They want to capture data on the types of products competitors have, pricing, the amount of available shelf space and competing promotional materials," Collins said.
Using the solution, he said, a company can create a survey for use in the field and build questions, responses and rules for it. The survey is then downloaded to a sales or marketing manager's handheld device as part of its built-in workflow, and, once collected, survey results are uploaded to the server-side application for analysis.
"A store manager could also use the handheld to anonymously evaluate the salesperson, with results visible on the server side only," Collins said.
Bill Bittner, president of technology and business process consulting firm BWH Consulting, said inconsistent data could pose a problem to companies trying to collect data with Survey Management.
"The biggest challenge I see with something like this is trying to normalize the data captured about competitors from different companies from different DSD store personnel," Bittner said. "Category analysis and promotion evaluation need some consistency on how these characteristics are classified and recorded. If you are going to try to make comparisons, each DSD route person has to be trained on how to capture the information and view it the same way."
Bittner said direct store delivery is an area that is ripe for a solution that can comprehensively collect and analyze field data.
"In some respects, DSD is the 'last frontier' of retail," he said. "The fragmented nature of DSD operations and the often competing goals of route people versus both corporate [headquarters] and the retailer make understanding what is happening in the field more important than when dealing with warehoused products. The HighJump solution seems to hold out the potential for putting some light on the subject."
Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out eWEEK.com's Retail Site.