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Zenput’s Data ‘Tasks’ Retailers With Knowing Whether Their POS Is Working

The company's workflow management systems also lets local businesses with multiple outlets know not just when to advertise, but which items need a boost.

papa johnsFollowing an overview of its business operations, a Florida Papa John’s franchise identified four key issues it needed to address for its delivery program across its 22 outlets: responding quickly to problems uncovered in restaurants; tracking the business’s performance over time; introducing more automation; and knowing who completed reports and when.

More questions were produced: Were stores succeeding or falling short in making improvements? Could there be an easier way to highlight issues at the restaurant while consolidating documentation? Papa John’s turned to app-based business management provider Zenput to institute some changes.

Within a week, Zenput converted the Papa John’s franchise to digital process management from its old school paper filings. District managers signed on, and no special training was needed.

“Papa John’s was able to create custom reports for individuals, teams and stores,” Zenput noted in a case study (registration required). “Managers eagerly uploaded photos to highlight areas needing more attention and also where operations were meeting expectations. Zenput’s GPS location data and mapping made it clear where managers were submitting forms, while the timestamp feature recorded when.”

Zenput's Vladik Rikhter
Zenput’s Vladik Rikhter

For Vladik Rikhter, the CEO and founder of San Francisco-based Zenput, the task for working with retailers is simple: an automated process that lets them know what’s happening at the point-of-sale can not only boost revenues, but it can yield cost savings from marketing and inventory management that can be put to work elsewhere.

GeoMarketing: Zenput offers a range of mobile services, from helping retailers manage “employee tasks” to analytics. How does the company help stores improve their marketing and attract customers?

Vladik Rikhter: There’s no shortage of things retailers have to do on any given day. We give them a mobile solution that allows them — the store managers, the area managers, the regionals and the VPs — a way to direct the key missions for the day, for the week that they need to get done. For example, our software helps them manage new promotional items that need to be posted, displays that need to be put together. We’re then able to give analytics back to the company that as those things are actually being executed upon, the company can track the progress of it.

How is that data actionable for your retail clients?

People can send a report that shows, hypothetically, “Out of our 1,000 locations for this big promotional campaign for Coca-Cola, 800 of the promos are perfectly set up, but 100 are missing pricing signage that we need to send back to the brand. And 100 are missing some other part of the display that needs to get there.”

Most of it is really trying to get that last mile right before the customer walks in the door. That’s because there’s nothing more frustrating than spending a lot of money on a marketing campaign and finding that not everything worked as it was supposed to after the fact.

The bottom line is, if the customer walks in the door, they actually don’t see what you spent the money on. The numbers are anywhere between 40- to 60 percent of [walk-ins] are attracted by the actual execution of a promotion. With companies using our product, we typically see that list closer to 70-, 80 percent. And we know that because we can match the ads to the GPS off a consumer’s device when they walk into a client’s store.\

What specifically does Zenput track first and foremost for retailers? Is it all app based?

The displays at the point-of-sale, those definitely track more toward the application itself. Anything that they put on for sale for the month is usually tracked within Zenput’s applications. In terms of integration for the POS, the integrations that we’re doing today are primarily focused around using POS data to drive additional tasks.

Let me give you an example. If, for the week, you were expecting 10 cases of beer to be sold and 10 cases of beer didn’t get sold — let’s say only 2 cases were sold — that would drive a task to that store to the area manager to let him know next time he’s in there to take a look at that issue.

It might be that there may be problems regarding inventory or the beer. It may be that the beer was never properly set up. It’s all about trying to wiggle any of those type of execution issues around it. When an area manager pulls up to a store it will ping him, “Hey, it looks like 2 days ago we saw that there was only 2 cases sold when we expected 10. You probably need to take a look at it and see what’s going on. Are we not positioning it properly? Is it mislabeled?” There are all sorts of things.

Today, a lot of really valuable data is deeply trapped in the point-of-sale. When retail managers look at these issues, typically, you have to sit down, drill in, do a bunch of reports. The problem is that there’s no real good follow-up. We give them a way to address it and say, “Something did occur but it wasn’t as it was expected to be.” It allows the managers to develop a clear response to specific questions and issues: “Are we having personnel issues there? Is there positioning, pricing issues,” whatever it may be.

Retailers with multiple locations have issues juggling operations.
Retailers with multiple locations have issues juggling operations.

In the two-and-a-half years that Zenput has been operating, has the client base for your workflow products shifted?

For sure. Today, the focus is really in three areas. Two of them a little bit heavier than the third. We’re working more with retail chains, and starting to get into specialty retail on the restaurant chain side. There’s also the brands themselves that sell into these locations — they have as much interest in making sure that their display is set up as much as the retailer does themselves. In terms of a sweet spot, really we’re not very good for really small ones. If you have 10 or 15 locations, we can service you, but typically speaking, you’re almost close enough that you can see it.

As those retailers get larger, as they open 100, 1,000, 2,000 locations, it creates a major managing challenge across the board. The bigger the company, frankly the better they are of a fit for our product. I’d say the vast majority of our customers, they are at minimum about 100 stores.

Where do you see Zenput’s growth coming from? Is it from particular marketing categories or from geographical expansion? Or both?

We’re starting to pick up a handful of international customers. We find that for the most part, adoption, deployment, and usage for them is significantly better than the ones in the US.

It’s because when you look at certain countries around the world, they skipped the whole desktop era. They’ve been using Blackberrys and text messaging and actually even longer than the average consumer has in the US.

Our end-users are typically more akin to an average consumer than someone who’s tech-savvy and spent a lot of time with that. I think the first big one that we did was a few months is a company called Puma Energy, which is in 45 countries across Africa, Central America, South America, Asia, and Australia.

When we started getting them on-board and offered to train them in how to use our products, they almost hesitated. They said, “Look, we figure this out. It’s not so hard. We’re used to using Blackberry all this time.” For us, I actually think the global expansion part of it will probably become a lot more compelling down the line.