Colgate-Palmolive brushes up on field force automation

Colgate-Palmolive has what it hopes is a bright idea for its field force. The New York-based consumer products company, whose brands include Colgate, Palmolive and Ajax, has selected Thinque MSP for Consumer Goods from Thinque Systems Corp. in Universal City, Calif. to polish up its Retail Audit Program (RAP).

Thinque MSP for Consumer Goods uses inexpensive handheld computers to gather and send information from retail stores. Colgate-Palmolive plans to begin installing Thinque MSP in July, as part of its RAP, which will measure how its consumer products are selling in stores. Approximately 100 field force employees of the company will participate in the U.S.

With RAP, Colgate-Palmolive hopes to reduce voids, which are products that were never placed on shelves. RAP is also designed to reduce the occurrence of out-of-stocks, increase retailer compliance with its programs and boost broker response time, according to Colgate-Palmolive executives.

In the RAP testing phase last year, Colgate-Palmolive used Thinque MSP to audit brokers covering high-selling retail accounts. Field employees tracked information regarding how retailers displayed, stocked and sold Colgate-Palmolive products, which Thinque MSP recorded. Information was captured down to the SKU level, and when voids were found in retail stores, the entire audit was sent automatically as an email to the broker responsible for that store.

During the pilot program, Colgate-Palmolive found that audit time was improved by 45%, administrative support was reduced by 93%, reporting time was reduced by 100%, and broker response time improved by 66%. Display compliance was also increased, and out-of-stocks and voids decreased. The program has also reduced the time needed to resolve shelving and stocking issues, the company said.

Thinque MSP was designed for Windows CE handhelds and can run in either wireless or non-wireless mode. This allows information to be collected and transmitted in near real-time.

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