Category Management in Retail is changing — how are you keeping up?

The retail industry is changing. Retailers are vying for market share in an increasingly competitive environment. Shoppers are becoming more complex and demanding. Data and technology options are increasing in complexity with more and more big data. Channels are blurring. Retailers have a big opportunity to create well defined strategies and processes that will help align and guide their organizations so that they can achieve their goals and objectives. But where should you begin for category management in retail environments?
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4 Best Practices for Managing Seasonal Categories

What are some opportunities for you to move to a more strategic approach in your seasonal categories? Seasonal merchandising represents a huge incremental sales and profit opportunity for Retailers and Manufacturers. What are seasonal categories? “Seasonal events” have evolved and expanded with changes in the Shopper, weather patterns, and new events to include everything from annual holidays, to multicultural holidays, to celebration and annual events, to special community events, and even weather-related events. Some major seasonal events are starting much earlier than in the past. Retailers who want to stand out in the marketplace now run “hot” priced features well in advance of the seasonal event to establish their stores as the best destination for the season. There is also a stronger concentration of sales during the few days before seasonal events.  To realize and maximize the full potential of seasonal sales, you should apply the principles of category management to your seasonal categories. I've put together 4 best practices for managing seasonal categories that incorporate catman strategies, including a rigorous analysis post season to continuously improve your seasonal category plans.
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Build Your Strategy Behind Assortment and Space Planning

What is the strategic level of your team or organization when it comes to Space Planning and Efficient Assortment? Space planning and efficient assortment are BOTH very important for Retailers and Manufacturers — so why are they treated so tactically? Why don’t teams and organization consider more advanced shelving solutions and take full advantage of opportunities to reach the Shopper? Read on to find out some common mistakes on both sides.
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Private Label Pricing Analysis: Private Label vs National Brands

Last week I talked about how to build Private Label strategy through the category management foundations, with focus on topline category assessment results through market share, demographics and interaction data. As you might remember, Retailers need to ensure these profitable private label brands offer competitive differentiation by using the same strategic category management and fact-based approach for national brands and total category. This post, we are going to dive into private label pricing.
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Build Private Label Strategy Through Category Management Foundations

Private Label / Store Brands can be key differentiators for Retailers and can be used as a strategic weapon that separates a Retailer from its competition. Once Shoppers get hooked on a Retailer’s Private Label / Store Brand, they have no choice but to shop there. But how can they achieve this loyalty? Create a better private label strategy with two CatMan Foundations.
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Improve Collaboration and Joint Business Planning Results in 3 Steps

Collaboration is on many organization’s strategic plans for 2016, with effective Joint Business Planning (JBP) being the outcome. Retailers’ and Vendors’ have the opportunity to determine mutual areas of interest and build their businesses in a collaborative way — namely by taking steps to improve Shopper satisfaction with a better experience. However, effective Collaboration and JBP require more than a desire or written strategic plan. Both require that your organization undertake 3 consecutive steps: Prepare your organization internally for collaboration; Align your internal approach across your multifunctional teams through common training; and Implement external Collaboration and Joint Business Planning. Collaboration and Joint Business Planning can help both Retailers and Vendors manage the change that continues to dominate, including: Changing partner needs and expectations between Retailers and Vendors Changing market and Shopper, Less resources available internally due to downsizing / consolidation, and Increased requirements due to more and bigger data and a more complex Shopper.
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Strategic Selling Skills: How to Develop Them & Why You Need Them.

Selling is a requirement in any business. In the retail industry, selling takes place both internally and externally for Retailers and Vendors across departments and teams. There are multiple “Seller” to “Buyer” relationships, including: EXTERNAL SELLING RELATIONSHIPS the account manager or sales director (Seller); calling on the category manager or business unit lead at the Retailer (Buyer). the category analyst or vendor advisor (Seller); calling on the category manager, or someone else in the retail organization responsible for different components of the category review process (Buyer). the Retailer’s category manager with a new promotion or plan (Seller); calling on an account manager or sales director (Buyer). INTERNAL SELLING RELATIONSHIPS the category manager at the Retailer promoting an idea or concept (Seller); to their business unit lead or manager (Buyer). the Vendor’s category analyst or category management director promoting in an idea or concept (Seller); to the marketing director or sales director within their organization (Buyer). So when you think about developing selling skills, expand your concept of Sellers and Buyers beyond the Vendor’s sales team. The graphic below summarizes:    Two critical components of any selling approach include your ability to create engaging and informative presentations that focus on your Buyer (either internal or external). These components include the ability to use software tools like PPT and to tell a compelling story with relevant, fact-based details to your audience. Both components are critical, and must be developed BEFORE you can focus on strategic selling skills.
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Product Supply Chain Is More Than Just Moving Product

Supply Chain Management is an important, but sometimes misunderstood, process for both Retailers and Suppliers. So many individuals, teams and departments impact the supply chain for both Retailers and Suppliers — understanding the implications of how decisions and recommendations affect the bigger picture is critical. In net, supply chain management includes planning and management of all sourcing, procurement and conversion activities, plus all logistics management activities. It includes coordination and collaboration with channel partners including Suppliers, intermediaries, third-party service providers and Retailers. Think of supply chain management as the link between major business functions and business processes within and across companies. It creates a cohesive and high-performing business model, including all of the logistics management activities and manufacturing operations. Supply chain management drives coordination of processes and activities with and across marketing, sales, product design, finance and information technology. 
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How do Category Managers Affect a Retailer Income Statement?

How often do you think about the effect of your decisions or recommendations on a Retailer’s Income Statement? If not often, consider that matching what Retailers are trying to accomplish from a financial perspective will help Retailers make better decisions and Vendors make better recommendations. 
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Achieve Shopper Satisfaction in 3 Steps

Here’s what you need to know about achieving Shopper Satisfaction, Collaboration and Effective Shopper Marketing — Are “Shopper” and/or “Collaboration” on your 2016 Strategic Pillars? For most organizations the answer is yes, but many are struggling with how to get any traction. It doesn’t have to stay that way. To succeed, Shopper and Collaboration need to be well-defined and go beyond transactional, one-off projects. Both Retailers and Vendors should begin with these three steps: Step 1.  INTERNAL COLLABORATION Before collaborating with each other, Retailers and Vendors need to get on the same “internal“ page. An aligned, collaborative approach to Category and Shopper across their multifunctional teams will include: Define Internal Strategies, Guidelines and Processes associated with their target consumer / Shopper, competitive differentiation, brand and category (including private label or store brands), category roles and strategies, tactical strategies and supply chain strategies. Identify Assets & Best-fit Business Partners, including data & tools, personnel and research. Not all collaboration is created equal and this is a critical step for any organizations who have “collaboration” on their corporate strategies for 2016. Train Multi-functional Teams on Category Management foundations, data and analytics, and category and Shopper understanding (see the FAQs later on in this blog).  Step 2.  EXTERNAL COLLABORATION Once Retailers and Vendors have their teams working toward the same goals with a unified strategy, they are ready to collaborate externally based on the partnership guidelines they established in Step 1. The Category Management Association has created a free whitepaper on “Strategic Collaboration for Shopper Satisfaction” that delivers big picture perspective on how Retailers and Vendors establish and maintain true collaboration.  Step 3.  SHOPPER SATISFACTION Through successful collaborative business partnerships between Retailers and Vendors, both can reach consumers with integrated Shopper Marketing across the omnichannel at any point in consumers’ Path to Purchase. Strategy& and PWC’s whitepaper on “Reimagining Shopper Marketing” identifies good models of brand building through omnichannel experiences. 
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