Whirlpool Is Awash in In-Store Display Data from Mobile Tool

Appliance Maker Will Gauge Success of Swash Marketing Efforts Using Mobile App

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Whirlpool took a risk developing an alternative to the traditional washing machine when it launched Swash in conjunction with Procter & Gamble Co. in July. And now the appliance maker is gathering and analyzing data showing how the novel fabric-care contraption is displayed in stores. It's one way Whirlpool will gauge success of its marketing and consumer education efforts around Swash.

"We made a really healthy investment in in-store marketing," said Corey Moles, senior business manager at Whirlpool, regarding the launch of Swash. "We wanted visibility into the store level for every single store we invested in." The company turned to Gigwalk, which now offers an enterprise version of its mobile crowd-sourcing application. Whirlpool is using it to monitor what's really happening with Swash displays in retail locations including Best Buy stores.

"The resources in-field were already visiting Best Buy, but we weren't able to have this visibility before," said Mr. Moles. "I can literally see where it's placed in the store."

Swash appliances use Swash Pods to remove wrinkles and freshen clothes without washing or excessive drying. Since its wide launch of the product about a month ago, Swash display observers have logged about 400 store visits using the app, according to Mr. Moles.

Keeping track of store placement and displays is nothing new, and certainly the company could deploy people with cellphone cameras to snap store displays. Instead, the Gigwalk platform allows Whirlpool's field staff -- the people who visit stores to train sales associates how to use its appliances -- to submit photos, details on store displays, and sales staff activity, data that is standardized and organized. The data can be reported in chart and graph form, and track information such as which shelves products are found on or whether displays are positioned as intended. In the past, people like Mr. Moles have had to scroll through Excel spreadsheets to assess store display data.

The company has yet to make any changes to its marketing strategy as a result of the monitoring; for now, the goal is to measure the initial consumer reaction in stores to the new product and compare that to how consumers respond to it in a few months, Mr. Moles said.

"It's really sped up our ability to gain visibility into display," said Mr. Moles. The app also assists in tracking staff in the field, and the data can be used to spot regional trends, gauge store-by-store performance, and keep an eye on staff.

The information can be exported and integrated with point-of-sales data or Nielsen data, said Gigwalk CEO Bob Bahramipour.

Red Bull uses the system to monitor where its branded coolers are placed in stores, according to Mr. Bahramipour. "If the coolers are near the cashier, they make money," he said. "The problem is, coolers get moved or the Monster guys come and move the cooler," he added, referring to Red Bull competitor Monster Beverage Corporation.

Whirlpool is considering other uses for the platform in addition to measuring in-store displays for Swash. In the future the appliance maker might track more detailed data using the app, said Mr. Moles. "If we ran a promotion we could say, 'Hey have we executed the promotion well.'