To improve the quality of retail promotions that relied on unstandardized manual processes, M-Industry, a subsidiary of Migros Group, engaged IBM iX™ for a digital transformation project.
IBM equipped the promotion team with Apple iPads running IBM® MobileFirst™ for iOS apps, developed a custom app and integrated mobility into back-end systems, all powered by the IBM Bluemix® platform.
Improves qualityof retail promotions because of more-engaged and better- informed promoters and field managers
Increases productivityof the promotion team through improved communications and streamlined mobile processes
Enhances efficiencyof back-office personnel as a result of standardized mobile workflows and automated processes
Business challenge story
Improving retail promotion quality
In 2015, Migros’s M-Industry subsidiary created the Trade Marketing Intelligence (TMI) unit to promote everyday staples such as cheese, bread and shampoo in Migros supermarkets and elsewhere. TMI relied on back-office personnel to manage a team of promoters, whose job was to set up demonstration booths, explain the products, answer customer questions and survey customer reactions. The promotions were popular with supermarket customers and TMI product managers alike. In a short time, the promotion team grew to some 300 promoters and eight field executive managers. Yet even as the team grew and the workflow became more complex, back-office staffers still relied on manual processes to manage the promotion workflow, including telephoning promoters individually for scheduling and distributing information by post, messenger and personal email. Such ad hoc communications led to ambiguity for the promoters, and scaling the process meant hiring more back-office personnel. What’s more, nonstandard process variations compromised promotion quality.
To solve these problems, TMI executives undertook a project to digitally transform the promotion workflow. They sought a vendor to help them develop mobile solutions that would standardize and automate promotion processes, from communicating with promoters for scheduling and training to gathering customer feedback and helping field managers assure promotion quality. A key requirement was ease of use for the promoters, who tended to be people with little hands-on technology experience. TMI also sought solutions that offered flexibility in setting mobile workflows to improve convenience for both promoters and field managers. And because TMI lacked a dedicated IT staff to manage and support on-premises solutions, they had to be easy to implement as cloud-based services. Finally, TMI needed a vendor that provided strong guidance, development assistance and ongoing customer service.
Engaging IBM for mobile transformation
After evaluating numerous alternatives, TMI chose IBM to assist in its mobile transformation project. IBM provided a range of services and solutions centered around IBM® MobileFirst™ for iOS business apps running on Apple iPads.<br><br>The project started with workshops and consulting managed by IBM iX™ to help TMI mobilize its promotion processes. IBM iX consultants encouraged a user-obsessed approach, engaging actual promoters in IBM Design Thinking workshops at the IBM Design Center in Cupertino, California, to pinpoint where mobility would most benefit nontechnical users. IBM also backed a mobile software as a service (SaaS) architecture. This pay-as-you-go approach appealed to TMI business managers. And with all apps and services powered by the IBM Bluemix® cloud platform, TMI could accelerate time to market through independence from IT release cycles. In fact, the first app was up and running in just eight weeks.<br><br>The overall solution was based on the IBM MobileFirst for iOS Shift Sync and IBM MobileFirst for iOS Market Visit apps, plus an app called TMI Visits that IBM iX developed for field managers. IBM also handled procuring and leasing Apple iPads for promoters and field managers; integrating mobile apps into M-Industry’s back-end systems; deploying IBM Mobile solutions for app and mobile device management (MDM); and offering a 3-year contract for mobile app management and support.<br><br>The Shift Sync app, called TMI Planning by M-Industry, helps promoters manage work assignments more efficiently. Instead of relying on phone calls for promotion scheduling, promoters use the app to post their availability, receive and confirm assignments, manage vacations and log absences.<br><br>The Market Visit app, called TMI Promotions by M-Industry, offers promoters the latest information and reporting tools to help them prepare for, conduct and complete promotions. Through the app they receive training documents and videos and then a test on the material. This ensures that they are well trained on products that may change week by week. Promoters also receive push notifications from the back office concerning product and process updates. They can use the app to take notes during their preparation, record their hours, and send photos to the back office and field managers to verify quality assurance. They can also record bar codes of products used, submit their expenses, reorder supplies and comment on the promotion’s success.<br><br>Field managers use their tablets to manage promotion quality using a custom app from IBM called TMI Visits, which delivers a digest of information from M-Industry’s back-office systems about promoters, promotion sites and ongoing promotions. It also helps managers document promotion quality, assess promoter performance and analyze promotion results.<br><br>
Improving promotion quality
M-Industry executives are enthusiastic about the results of the digital transformation project. Mobile business processes, now standardized through the IBM apps, improve stakeholder convenience, preparation and productivity.<br><br>Promoters are better informed and trained for promotions, leading to increased job satisfaction. As one promoter says, “The TMI apps are clearly enhancing my daily work. I can now find all relevant information in one place. I only have to work with one device and no longer have to print out the documents. It’s a big plus that I can use the iPad in my private life as well.”<br><br>Field managers are more prepared and productive now that they receive needed information in real time. “Until recently, I went into a store without knowing who was working there, and I had no overview of where promotions were occurring,” says Hans Eber, Field Executive Manager for TMI. “Now I can use the iPad as a navigation device to find locations I don’t visit regularly. I can remotely see how the promotion booth looks and assess promotions as well as the promoters. This is the right way to work in the future.”<br><br>In the back office, mobility has streamlined processes so that existing staff can handle an increasing workload.<br><br>Taken together, these benefits improved the quality of product promotions—exactly what TMI executives envisioned from mobile transformation. Lukas Bigler, Project Manager at TMI, sums it up this way: “The user-centric approach, as well as the breadth of the IBM Mobile portfolio, convinced us to approach digital transformation with IBM and Apple. All our expectations were met and even exceeded during the project. The close cooperation throughout the mobile project with all engaged IBM teams helped us achieve outstanding results and clearly meet our goals.”<br><br>
About Migros Group
Migros is Switzerland’s largest retailer and supermarket chain. With approximately 103,000 employees, it is also Switzerland’s biggest private employer. M-Industry, a Migros subsidiary, is one of the world’s leading providers of private label consumer goods. Its 28 companies produce more than 20,000 food and nonfood products sold in Migros stores and to other retailers. Founded in 1925 and headquartered in Zürich, Switzerland, Migros had 2016 revenues of CHF 27.2 billion.
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