What would you like our conference attendees to know about your brand/company?

The Vision Group is an organization focused on digitizing brick and mortar Retail. We have several companies within The Vision Group that approach this with cutting-edge technologies. For example, our Maxerience brand leverages Image Recognition technology and state-of-art product catalog, to capture and collect store level detail, in real time without the inherent bias we see from manual audits. Once captured, data is used to support better decision making and strategy development.

We acquired and integrated SMSB Brand into our Maxerience business. SMSB has established itself as a leader in the image catalog business as well as Space Management tools and services. This business was the missing link in accelerating our overall Image Recognition capabilities with Maxerience.

In addition to showcasing our Maxierience brand and cutting edge tools such as PicToPog an PDFToPog during the conference this year, we support other use-cases using our core technology with our InstaGNG and Vision IoT businesses. InstaGNG or “Instant Grab and Go” uses our technology to support frictionless retail by creating current cooler base into smart coolers that work as vending machines at the fraction of the cost of a traditional vending machine. Our VisionIoT business is focused on connecting assets at store level. We apply our core technology to both track a company’s assets location and productivity.

What does Activating Insights for a Dynamic Future mean to your company?

This is core to how we are approaching the industry with our technology. We talk a lot about “compounded complexity” or complexity on top of complexity within the CPG industry. Retailers are leveraging technology to develop store level assortment to capture micro local opportunities. It’s not unusual to see a retailer with 1,000 stores have 1,000 planograms. The rate of innovation along with today’s consumer willing to try new products is creating a dynamic retail environment where real-time, in the moment insights can be garnered and needed to be acted on in order to meet the needs of the shopper.

Technology like AI-Image Recognition is the tool that helps the industry capture big data in real-time to meet the needs of a Dynamic industry.

What is the most impactful retail insight you have observed over the past year, and how have you helped suppliers and retailers activate against it?

Complexity. Executing at shelf while trying to understand the impact of hyper-local planogram and assortment strategies. The Brands we serve continue to struggle to garner true “cause and effect” insights to assortment, pricing and promotional lift as executing the shelf and promotions gets harder to complete. Our Distributors continue to work on driving efficiency across a route or territory in a world where every planogram is different.

Our tech can capture what was is happening at retail in real-time, while scaling this data across a territory, geography or chain to help our customers get to what’s really happening at retail. This data is critical toward identifying both the problems faster that need to be fixed as well as the opportunities to compete more effectively.

What current retail and consumer trends do you feel people should be paying particular attention to right now?

Innovation. Through our technology, we are now seeing an incredible amount of innovation coming into the market. New flavors, packaging and brands are rapidly entering the market. These innovations are often the next threat to bigger brands that retailers will get behind.

What kind of solutions will you be showcasing at the 2023 CMA|SIMA Conference?

We have three distinct tools to help Category Management Professionals during the conference; Store360, PicToPOG and PDFToPOG. Store360 tackles measuring “Perfect Store” initiatives for Brands that have multiple points of distribution within a store and/or brands in multiple categories.

PIC2POG is a tool where we generate an editable planogram file from a store picture or PDF. We saw that Space Planning organizations were manually created JDA files from random pictures taken from a store or PDFs sent by a retailer. This was taking hundreds of manhours to execute. We generate these POGs nearly instantly. We are very proud of this technology.

For beverage manufacturers or distributors, getting planograms from retailers is hard to obtain, especially if you are selling into independent retailers or are not the category advisor. We found that brands will manually build JDA files from a PDF or visit a store. There is no time to do this for the entire chain or market so brands will settle for a small sample size. Even for smaller sample sizes, building editable planograms can take weeks to complete. Now, we automate this allowing brand to capture every POG. It gives a more accurate picture of the category.

We will also be showcasing our InstaGNG business focused on autonomous retail via “smart cooler” technology. We have deployed over 8,000 “smart coolers” across the globe on our way to over 20,000. Unattended retail, in today’s difficult labor market, is very appealing for beverage manufacturers for sales purposes. However, we are now seeing this technology support category management analysis for vending, making sure the right products are represented with the right space to ensure availability.

We will also demonstrate our our VisionIoT business where we use proprietary cameras to capture shelf data. We have just scaled a use-case in the ice cream category where our technology is generating replenishment tasks for novelties merchandised in free-standing ice chests seen in convenience retail. Frozen supply chain operations have suffered dramatically with the current labor situation. Our technology streamlines routes and helps supply chain in new ways. We expect to learn from our CMA partners on how this technology can help garner unique shelf insights for their categories.