Part of this journey to deliver great assortments and product layouts has been the custom development of world-class category management software.
These and other category management tools are those that you can use to not only merchandise like a professional but also provide shoppers with the products they want when they want them.
1. Choose the best products with assortment planning software
The product assortment you choose to make available in your store is a critical shopping experience element.
Let's put it this way: how can you entice customers to shop at your store if you don't stock the products they want? The answer is obvious - you can't.
However, with the right approach and advice, you can design a product assortment that doesn't only entice customers to visit your store but also return time and again.
Take, for example, DotActiv's Range Optimizer solution, which forms part of our assortment planning software.
Based on pre-defined criteria and linked to space and the impact of range changes, we developed it to enable you to create and plan your assortment ranges efficiently. It's a one-stop solution for the different goals, strategies and objectives you have for your categories.
Are you looking for software that helps you create assortment plans to meet your customers' needs? Book a complimentary consultation with a DotActiv expert, and we’ll show you how our software can help you.
As for what's included, while not all-encompassing, here's a quick breakdown to help you use it efficiently:
Wizard UI: With the wizard, you can click through the different steps in the Range Optimizer one at a time. The Range Optimizer also provides you with recommendations and information throughout the process to assist you in making the best range setup decisions.
Brand profiling: We’ve created a brand profiling feature that runs as a scheduled task on the database each day. It involves assigning a tier to a brand using retail selling price and brand image. The most basic tiers are Economy, Mid-Tier and Premium.
Product clones: You can use product clones when you have new listings in a category and want to complete a range review using the Range Optimizer solution. Our product clone tool scans the display hierarchy and product descriptions of the new listings to find the top-performing and closest substitute as the product clone.
Range pre- and post-analysis: With a range pre-analysis, you can assess your current range in terms of performance and ranging indicators. With DotActiv's Range Optimizer solution, you can analyse your assortment and planogram and identify areas for improvement or growth.
If you’re looking to maximise the effectiveness of your range and improve customer satisfaction, there is no way to argue against an assortment planning solution.
2. Display your products with planogram software
Besides an assortment planning solution, another critical category management tool worth using is planogram software.
You can use planogram software to show how products should appear on the shelf in your store. More than that, using data, you can argue for how much space each product should receive.
Of course, that is only a brief overview of what you can expect with such software. It's easy to explain its worth when considering the benefits and reasons why you should use planogram software.
But we’re not going to do that.
Instead, we’ll touch on the consequences of not using this critical category management tool or not building planograms using specialist software that considers your data.
Loss of inventory control: Without planogram software, you will find it near impossible to keep track of the stock that comes in or goes out of your store. This loss of inventory control can lead to overstocking or understocking problems.
Stocking the wrong products: If you don’t know what your customers are buying, you can’t know what products to stock in-store to satisfy their expectations. As with the issue above, it can lead you to stock slow-moving items on your shelf and have insufficient space for products your customers want to buy.
Messy stores: A consequence of losing control of your inventory and stocking the wrong products is you end up with a store that is messy, cluttered and generally unshoppable. Do you want to shop in a store where you can’t find anything?
As we’ve stated multiple times across other articles, the argument for planograms and planogram software isn’t difficult to win. That’s especially true if you’re intent on merchandising your store to please your customers and maximise your sales.
3. Manage your retail workforce with specialist software
Your retail workforce on the ground is tasked with implementing the planograms you've built using specialist software and it directly impacts how customers experience shopping in your store.
It would thus be a shame not to equip them correctly. We understand that it's tough to manage large teams. And especially those teams that are not in across your various stores. But that's not an excuse to manage them inappropriately.
As we mentioned above, this might be about allowing you to merchandise your products so that customers can buy them and increase your sales and profits. However, first and foremost, it's about providing your customers with a shopping experience that they'll want to repeat.
Are you a supplier maintaining multiple brands or a merchandising firm servicing suppliers and retailers? Book a complimentary consultation with a DotActiv expert and we can show you how to maximise your output.
That’s where DotActiv’s Activ8 software plays a role. Activ8 has a field marketing software capability that enables you to analyse your brand representation on the shelf and in-store and ensure store compliance.
Why else would you want to invest in such specialist software? One word: efficiency.
Imagine this: you have 100 sales reps who need to visit your stores and report to you on different products on any given day. How are you meant to keep track of everything without the right software?
Here’s what you can expect when you have such software as part of your category management toolbox:
Set up and manage field marketing schedules: You can set up and schedule store visits for stock taking, evaluating store performance, inspections and more. You can task these visits to anyone in your team.
Create questionnaires for in-store visits: You can design simple or complex questionnaires that you want your sales reps, merchandisers or field marketers to answer in-store. For example, you can use questionnaires to check store compliance or planogram implementation.
Keep track of store visits: It’s all good and well that you set up a store visit task and assign it to the appropriate person. However, you must ensure that the person assigned the task completes it. Using GPS technology in smartphones and tablets, you can verify when someone completes a scheduled visit.
If you’re looking to overlay your efforts with a category management tool which allows you to manage your mobile workforce efficiently, there is no need to look further. The fact that it integrates with the rest DotActiv’s category management software makes it much easier to use.
4. Include your suppliers when using software
Involving your suppliers in your category management efforts isn't a nice-to-have option as it is a recommendation.
Considering that category management can be costly, it helps when you spread the expense. That's not to say that you can't afford category management software without help. DotActiv has three different software editions, all catering to your size and budget.
Instead, it’s about involving your supplier in the category management process.
Imagine this: One of your suppliers has all the knowledge and expertise you could hope for and they’re willing to help you build planograms and make product assortment decisions. Of course, part of it is to help them get their products in your store and ensure there is enough space on the shelf that their products sell well.
However, this isn’t to spite the rest of the category. The last thing they’d want is to give too much space to their products while ignoring other items that are selling just as well. If you employ a category captain, you’re tasking them with growing the sales of the category as a whole - not just for their products.
Then there is the use of store promotion planning software, which can also help you to improve supplier involvement, and in-store promotions and earn additional revenue from your suppliers.
As a retailer, when planning promotions, one of the first things you can do is organise your space. As mentioned in another article, from there, it’s a matter of deciding which products to put on promotion.
Bonus: Make smarter business decisions with retail analytics software
A fifth, and in this, a bonus category management tool, is retail analytics software. The fact that it’s a bonus tool in this context is in no way indicative of the point that it’s a critical component that ensures your category management efforts are not pointless.
Why? Simple - data ties everything together. As much as the other category management tools listed above help with your merchandising and category management efforts, you can’t be effective.
Fortunately, because your retail data is the life blood of your business, when you have access to it, you can expect to build a better and stronger business. But where does retail analytics software such as that offered by DotActiv come in handy?
Do you want to turn your retail data into actionable insights? Book a complimentary consultation with a DotActiv expert and we can show you how we can help you achieve that and more.
You only need to consider what you can do with such software and how it can improve your efforts. Below are a few functions and features that you can expect from such functionality from the DotActiv software.
Custom dashboards: DotActiv’s custom report function is fully customisable to your specific business and what’s more, you don’t need help from your IT department or a data analyst to build them. You can report on multiple dimensions, including market, product, period or fact.
Data source reporting: If you’re looking to understand what’s happening in your retail business, your first point of reference is to look at your data. But not just one source ot angle. Instead, it's better to access multiple data sources so you can understand your business from different angles and make better decisions.
Interactive analytics: When building any custom dashboard that you want to present to your team, it helps when you can choose from a wealth of visual and interactive analytics that help you tell the full story.
The category management tools you use to improve your business are varied but they all work together. More importantly, they are all intrinsic to whether or not you experience success.
As we’ve mentioned before across multiple other articles, the DotActiv software considers the interdependent nature of category management, allowing us to deliver exceptional results to our customers.
Do you need help?
DotActiv's category management platform unifies the salient elements of the category management process through best-of-breed software and powerful two-way integrations. Why not book a complimentary custom exploratory meeting with a DotActiv expert here to find out more or browse our various software editions and services our online store here.
*This article was updated on Tuesday, 11 October 2022.