*This article is based on our research and market feedback.
Regular trade promotions are an indispensable tool for stimulating sales and, therefore, an integral part of any retail business. Regardless of the reason for the promotional activity, whether it is the seasonal attraction of customers, a dead-stock sale, or participation in a supplier’s bonus program, ideally, the retailer expects to get sales growth and, accordingly, profit from the promotion. This process always involves managers from different departments (e.g., sales, marketing, purchasing, etc.). In this case, many data sources and different departments' conflicting needs can complicate the task. And if you multiply all this by the number of categories, SKUs, outlets, and their formats, which is often the case in large chains, the task of effectively conducting promotions becomes, to put it mildly, daunting.
According to research by Gartner, companies now spend more than 20% of their profits on promo support. That is why more and more companies are moving away from spreadsheets and manual control to automated technologies based on artificial intelligence because the cost of errors is relatively high.
What are the requirements for effective trade promotion management (TPM) software?
- Obtaining in-depth analytics using historical data to build more accurate sales forecasts, track the current effectiveness of the promotion, and carry out “the work on bugs” after the promotion ends.
- Real-time KPI monitoring. The presence of informative dashboards greatly facilitates the assessment of the effectiveness of the ongoing campaign and makes it possible to respond to deviations quickly.
- Vast opportunities for cross-functional interaction: data exchange with other systems, between departments of the company, and with suppliers.
- The ability to build a holistic process of promotions management: from planning and preparation for promotions to high-quality implementation and subsequent retrospective.
Based on the above requirements and users’ reviews, we offer a list of the TOP-3 most popular promotion management software in 2022.
Leafio Promotion Intelligence
LEAFIO has been implementing cloud-based retail solutions for over a decade, accumulating experience in implementation and use for more than 160 companies worldwide.
The functional block Leafio Promotion Intelligence allows retailers to prepare for future promotions promptly, receive a calculated promotional forecast, adapt the stock to actual promotional sales, provide the chain with a minimum stock, and analyze the promotion effectiveness.
The trade promotion management system of Leafio has a number of practical functional elements:
- A convenient promo calendar that visualizes all past, current, and future promotional activities, makes it possible to track analytics on key promotion indicators quickly.
- The module for preparing the upcoming promos based on AI algorithms provides the most accurate forecast of promotional sales. It considers various demand factors, product categories, an additional display, demand cannibalization and halo effect, mechanics and advertising of the planned promotion, etc. The system also calculates the order terms for timely preparation for the launch of promotions in each store.
- Adequate promotional sales support is ensured by the system’s algorithms that track actual sales and adjust target inventory levels as quickly as possible.
- The promotion completion function provides different strategies for regular promotions, closeouts, takeaway promotions and soft-sell additional vendor places when the promotion ends.
- Effectiveness evaluation of the campaign is carried out by daily and follow-up processing of the plan/ fact of sales, turnover, overstock level, availability, and lost sales during the activity and after it’s finished.
While offering the most comprehensive functionality of the TPM system, LEAFIO rightfully took the lead on this list due to its customer relationship policy:
- The provider demonstrates a flexible approach at all stages of interaction: from the sales, implementation and subsequent consultation on the product to setting up additional options for the needs of a particular business.
- To ensure an immediate economic effect for the client, the vendor’s project team is directly bound to the financial result from the implementation of the product.
- Conducting regular meetings with customers after the implementation period not only provides ongoing support and assistance in solving the customers’ current problems but also allows them to get familiar with the quarterly updates.
- By purchasing this product, the retailer also gets long-term partnership and consulting since the business model of acquiring a cloud solution with a monthly subscription determines the developer’s constant interest in making his product bring maximum economic benefit to the client.
The implementation period of this solution takes about 6 months. Unlike the “bulky and clumsy” systems built in previous decades, LEAFIO is incredibly flexible, which is enthusiastically noted by users who have switched to this software from other similar solutions. Despite the brilliant process logic “under the hood”, the system interface is convenient and intuitive. Cloud solution Leafio Promotion Intelligence is suitable for retail businesses of any size and an unlimited number of users. The product’s price depends on the number of stores and the size of the assortment of a particular retailer. It is an excellent example of the ratio of broad functionality for a reasonable price. This fact favorably distinguishes the product from similar solutions on the market.
RELEX Solutions is a distributor of cloud solutions for retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturing companies. The module for managing trade promotions allows one to carry out promotions with a high degree of product availability and the absence of excess stocks.
The AI-based system allows to:
- predict the impact of promotions on both “bricks” and online locations to ensure successful automatic replenishment;
- manage the entire process of planning and conducting promotions in one system using the same data: from product definition and advertising mechanics to forecasting, inventory management and planograms;
- take into account all relevant factors influencing demand forecasts, including price, type of promotion, display in the store, marketing, expiration dates, as well as cannibalization and halo effects;
- track the promo’s effectiveness thanks to a high-quality built-in analytics system that makes a daily forecast of the fulfillment of the main indicators of the effectiveness of the promotion.
- set individual criteria for managing exceptions so automatic alerts can signal current deviations in implementing KPI plans.
In general, users respond positively to RELEX Solutions. They also note the ease of use of the interface and the ability to configure all the necessary analytics (capterra.com). At the same time, there are severe comments about the inability to change the structure of the system’s calendar following the financial calendar used by the company, which causes significant inconvenience. The platform of RELEX provides accurate forecasts for products with a year or more sales history. However, users note that forecasts for new products tend to be inaccurate. (trustradius.com) The system is designed for a number of users from 2 to 1000+, which makes it suitable for both large and small companies. Although, it is also noted that the price, as well as a rather long and laborious training period, can be most affordable for larger corporations.
Symphony RetailAi positions itself as a company that has been implementing innovative solutions based on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and voice control technologies for more than 30 years to improve the efficiency of various operations in companies in the FMCG and CPG sectors. Symphony RetailAI solutions provide today's retailers with prescriptive information and guidance. Pre-packaged AI solutions leverage the predictive intelligence of CINDE and the power of the Eureka platform.
The product for planning and support of promotions from Symphony RetailAi performs several functions necessary to fulfill this task effectively:
- Planning and forecasting promotional activities using AI, which allows you to recommend promotion plans appropriate to the current situation and not just repeat or correct last year's goal.
- Analysis of “what if” scenarios where the selection of decision parameters and process constraints allows managers to combine human intelligence with artificial intelligence to select the best possible actions.
- Improved collaboration mechanism between retailer and supplier. An integrated audit trail for plans, events, and promotions also provides extensive reporting by category and department.
- An integrated calendar-based approach improves visualization and decision-making, while critical but repetitive tasks are simplified with an automatic distribution engine that uses business rules to improve performance.
Of course, the company is a relatively long-standing and experienced player in the market of providing software for optimizing retail business processes. However, it is essential to note that the TPM product from Symphony RetailAi is the only on-premise solution on this list, unlike the previous two SaaS-based solutions. Even though the developers have considered the software’s architecture as much as possible, this fact will undoubtedly affect the flexibility and adaptability of the system to the realities of a particular business. Also, a feature of such products is the limited or complete absence of after-sales customer support. This is not an advantage in a dynamically developing market, especially if taking into account the rather high price of the product.
The trade promotion software market is widely represented by experienced providers from different countries. At the same time, when choosing such a system, it is crucial to focus on building a long-term relationship with the vendor. In a dynamic retail market it is vital to receive timely updates and qualified expert advice. When choosing between on-premise and cloud-based solutions, retailers are increasingly striving for the latter. It happens due to their greater flexibility and adaptability to a specific business without high additional costs.