When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, eco-friendly household cleaner brand Rebel Green happily grappled with a surge in overnight mainstream success as consumer demand for cleaning products skyrocketed. It was a dream come true, but Rebel Green had a rude awakening once the surge slowed.
The growth spike exposed multiple inefficiencies in the company’s management of its sales and inventory data. As demand slowed and the company sought to channel its pandemic wins into long-term sales opportunities, it encountered hurdles, with employees required to work through an outdated system. Rebel Green had to rely on its small staff — none of whom are analysts by trade — to spend their time tracking inventory and sales rather than selling product.
However, by adopting data management solutions from retail analytics company Crisp, Rebel Green’s sales staff can now easily generate the reporting it needs as the brand continues to grow.
“That information is very important to be able to quickly access,” said Chip Albers, Director of Sales at Rebel Green in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “I could be on a phone call right now with a broker and we could be talking about a specific account in the Pacific Northwest. I can pull up sales data regarding what happened last week that quickly.”
Sorting Through Data During the Surge
“Rebel Green’s experience was truly unique, with astronomical demand in 2020 for their cleaning products and paper goods,” said Are Traasdahl, Founder and CEO of Crisp in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Once that surge wore off, Rebel Green experienced a ‘pandemic hangover’ — suddenly they needed to transition toward proactively growing sales outside of those unprecedented circumstances.”
However, examining inventory data after manually downloading spreadsheets from individual retailers and distributors was both cumbersome and not sustainable as a long-term model for Rebel Green. Fielding reports from different sources such as United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) and KeHE while also navigating through the various reporting formats from each agency or retailer was inefficient.
The retailer’s small team faced a number of data management challenges including:
- Cleaning and manipulation of data prior to using the information;
- Unique reports for each retailer, which caused difficulty in analyzing data across the business; and
- Reviewing and cross-referencing figures from multiple spreadsheets for the brand’s more than 30 products to procure detailed insights.
Once Rebel Green adopted the Crisp solutions, which can connect and analyze data across retailer and brand supply chains, the company was able to:
- Uncover sales opportunities across its product line;
- Follow up with pandemic buyers through past orders;
- Track sales data for every product at a store; and
- Monitor inventory at distribution centers.
“By providing Rebel Green seamless access to sales and inventory data across their retail channel, the sales team could easily identify trends, find opportunities to expand distribution and make a strong data-based case to buyers to take on a particular product in a given store or region,” said Traasdahl. “This helped them stay competitive in a category full of larger brands that might have entire teams of analysts poring through data.”
Using the Crisp platform also gave Rebel Green access to data that helped the company determine the reasons a product performed a certain way in a particular region. Using tools such as the Crisp Sale by State heat map, Rebel Green can identify how different SKUs sell in different areas. Identifying the factors that contribute to a product’s uneven performance across retailers allows Rebel Green to take action and make changes that could lead to improved sales.
“If there is an item that we know is killing it in the Pacific Northwest and it’s not doing well down in Florida, what’s happening?” said Albers. “One, is it on shelf? Two, if it’s on shelves, what’s the price point? Those are key things with the position on shelves. Crisp gives information, which then spurs action for us. We can go into the store or talk with the buyer to see what’s going on. Did the planogram have to change? Has the item been discontinued?”
Sales team members also can generate and share reporting with each other to develop growth strategies. They can gain insight into areas where products are selling well and identify other regions with similar demographics to explore potential expansion.
A Clean Green Mission Aligns With Pandemic Priorities
With a big presence in the natural cleaning products category, Rebel Green has become an industry darling among consumers who want more responsibility from companies that make cleaners and paper goods. After the company was founded by Ali Florsheim and Melina Marcus in April 2009 with the introduction of Rebel Green’s Fruit & Veggie Clean produce wash, it expanded into laundry, bathroom, hand care, household and additional kitchen products. Rebel Green’s responsible mission set it up for success as consumers became more informed during the pandemic and sought to align themselves with a company that is:
- B-Corp certified;
- Leaping Bunny certified;
- Women owned;
- WBENC certified; and
- Made in the U.S.
As a company that sells sustainable products, committing to responsible practices companywide is crucial to Rebel Green’s branding. An important lesson learned from living and working during the COVID-19 pandemic was that a business’ practices can successfully shift to more sustainable methods with the appropriate tools.
“In the old days, Willy Loman [from the Arthur Miller play Death of a Salesman] spent a year driving all over the place selling his products,” said Albers. “That’s been really reduced down. I started with this company by working from home, but I was doing a lot more traveling before the pandemic. Utilizing Crisp can give me more information quickly right from my desktop, as opposed to me having to drive to the store and take a look at what’s on the shelf, and talking to the buyers and begging them to see if they could give me some sales information.”