Sara Clarkson knows retail. As the President/CEO of the national retail merchandising company, Storesupport Canada, she has facilitated the shopping experience for millions of Canadians whether they realise it or not.
Storesupport Canada is a Canadian-owned-and-operated organization that has been in business for more than a decade. With a field force of more than 750 employees across the country who work with brands, manufacturers, and retailers throughout Canada, Storesupport is the backbone for retail and manufacturing companies who want to create a better experience and increased brand loyalty for the consumer while providing an ROI to the client partner.
How does it achieve this? Through scalability. Take a national grocery chain as an example—whether it’s a location in St. John’s, Victoria, or any one of the hundreds of locations in between, the stores share a common shopping experience. The detergent is going to be in the same aisle, on the same shelf, and with the same branding, and the same promotional rollouts.
“The average consumer may not realize this,” says Clarkson, “in a lot of retail— big box, grocery, convenience, and the Walmarts of the world—those actual stores need help and support making sure the products are merchandized in a specific way, making sure the products out in the stores displayed in a very coordinated way from store to store.”
“The products placed on the shelf are placed in a certain configuration, on the shelf, based on how a number of different factors,” says Clarkson. “You’ll find Tide in a certain section, for instance, and the placement follows actually schematics that are built. There’s a lot of thought that goes into where the products are going to be placed and the manufacturers pay for real estate on those shelves.”
Storesupport offers flexibility and industry-leading turnaround times on a national scale for the ever-changing retail, B2B, online, and trade industries. Its syndicated team operates on a national scale through dedicated and shared resources. Clients come to Storesupport for help clearing up and resetting the merchandise in their sections in-store and install new signage for the section.
“We complete competitive auditing for Point-of-sale items, for instance,” says Clarkson. “We do Plan-O-Gram resets and module changes for the brands and on the retail side we also work directly with retailers to help with in-store compliance changes.”
Clients gravitate to Storesupport for their speed, flexibility, breadth of experience, and data: a real-time snapshot of what is happening in-store and out with custom technology. Clarkson’s 25 years of experience in the field services industry led her to Storesupport in 2010, and she acquired the Canadian business in 2019, sensing an opportunity in the market for a client-focused, hands-on company with a boutique feel.
“What I loved about Storesupport’s philosophy is that they put the people in the field first and that was foremost important,” says Clarkson. “Being able to maneuver, adapt and pivot within the regional industry as it’s changing is hard to do for larger organizations. To maneuver, in Canada, through a Canadian-owned and operating company is an advantage.”
Storesupport enables manufacturers leverage increased ROI whenever they unveil a new brand identity, new product(s), expand services, and release new technology. Optimum placement is key to getting a brand into the hands of the customer—Storesupport’s suite of merchandising solutions ensures clients’ brands are kept in-stock, on-the-shelf, and priced accurately, to ultimately help them sell more.
“We offer our clients visibility of their brands across Canada,” says Clarkson. “A retailer like Shoppers Drug Mart has over 1,400 stores nationally. How does a manufacturer that is headquartered in Calgary and is manufactured in Toronto, know what’s going on with their products in a store in Corner Brook? We are able to give them an immense amount of insight through our data utilizing a robust Enterprise resource planning (ERP) technology system.”
“The same issues are present through online e-commerce, it just looks a little bit different,” says Clarkson. “Is the product description correct, are the stock numbers up-to-date, is the photo reflecting the product properly? That’s something that we’re definitely helping the manufacturers online.”
When COVID-19 hit, many companies found they had not yet established the ability to monitor the state of their brands available through various e-commerce sites. Storesupport’s e-retail division helps to manage the brands identity and attributes online.
As Storesupport continues to grow within the retail sector, it is continually evolving with more services to help support the brands and retailers, while also continuing to develop new innovations in bricks and mortar as well as online e-retail.