In the mind of a manager or director, depending of the company and many other factors, there is always the idea of having their own merchandising team. In the other side of the coin, there are other companies that have their own merchandisers and some times they think that maybe would be better to outsource this personnel.
If you have not decided yet, consider the aspects described in this article, I believe they can be of help.
Please note that this considerations are very personal and are not intended to give any answers to your particular situation, in order to do that, I would need a lot of information from your business.
Having your own merchandising team:
Gives you a more committed personnel that will defend better your products and overall interests at the retailer store. This person will be more careful to represent you in front of your clients-retailers and will be eager to let you know of any incidents or competitor actions to help you maintain and grow your sales.
Your own merchandiser will make your growth his or her growth (if you know how to handle that) and that right there has a direct and powerful impact in their performance being oftentimes the number one trigger for a better-more committed employee.
Outsourcing your merchandising team:
The next consideration if to outsource your merchandisers. This in fact has many advantages too. The first and more important, I would say, is the possibility to avoid the personnel administration and compromises.
Undoubtedly, this is a team that will not feel as compromised as your own but if you carefully structure your contract with your supplier you may have great results and warranty of a good job done.
To do so I suggest you sign up for a contract based on measurable results that you yourself can supervise and follow. These measurable results must include sales results, product display and rotation in the shelves, communication skills, compliance of work and route schedule.
You should be running a meeting with your supplier every week or every 5 to 10 working days, review a results report, meet with the merchandisers, ask questions, get insights, competition information and so on.
When deciding within to have your own merchandising team or not you need to consider also:
Where are you operating?
Some times even when you have the best intentions of having your own you need to outsource it because you are selling through distributors in another state or country.
A lot of times this merchandisers might be contracted by the distributor but sometimes and depending on your contract, you would prefer to deal directly with the merchandising team or have your own merchandising supervisor. This has a lot of advantages and will be more effective to your interests especially in competed markets.
Is your operation too big?
If your operation is too big you are not going to be hiring your own merchandising team because of the relative cost this implies. I have heard of companies that use to have an average of 3,000 merchandisers and female promoters in several countries and states to work in the retail channel. Such a team is unmanageable and definitely not a good strategy to stick to. Now if your operation is, let us say, from 5 to 30 million dollars a year I consider you can manage your own merchandisers.
I hope this article be of help and remember to write your comments and questions.