Success used to be simple for retailers. There were times when there was just one major store in your neighbourhood, where you could get just about everything. And the hallmark of the store was that the owner knew not just everybody and their families, but their preferences as well. Based on this insight, the owner would plan their store and shelves accordingly, meet their customer's needs, and make a profit in the process. In short, the owner practised category management.
Times have changed and the evolution of consumer habits and advances in manufacturing, distribution and information technology provide a very different shopping experience. As we witness change and disruption in the retail industry, we also see a huge transition of power – one where consumers are in charge and meeting their needs and requirements are at the core of successful retail operations.
we also see a huge transition of power – one where consumers are in charge and meeting their needs and requirements are at the core of successful retail operations.
In regards to category management, consumer demand refers to the level of demand which consumers have for particular products or services. Category Managers understand trends in demand by analysing internal and external sales data, which in turn helps retailers plan accordingly.
Here are five ways you can start embracing consumer demand for better results:
#1 Data platform
Randy Mott, the Chief Intelligence for Walmart, once said, “Retail is detail.” The sheer amount of detail involved in retail requires that data is housed and managed properly. Data is a retail organisation’s number one asset and when centralised, can provide targeted insight – which gives retailers and suppliers an advantage to effectively market products based on consumers’ demographics, needs, and shopping behaviour.
For example, before retailers can begin their assortment planning they need to define their consumer decision tree and give each product a classification. How do they do this? From analysing and leveraging transactional level data. Accessing this data from a centralised platform allows for quick and efficient decision making.
#2 Actively analyse your data
Using and examining your data will always be to your advantage. The international retail market has become increasingly volatile with retail conglomerates closing stores, entire supply chains being acquired and remodelled, and new industry players seizing market share by meeting and satisfying customer expectations. The ability to take action and make decisions from your retail data sets is more vital now than ever.
With data analytics, retailers can methodically examine their data - maximising sales as well as optimising their product assortments by spotting opportunities. Data analysis also helps retailers identify trends such as best sellers, effective pricing, sales growth, product assortments, and more.
#3 Introduce new products when you spot demand
Retailers routinely update their assortment by getting rid of slow moving products and adding new products. This is often done as a reaction to consumer demand growth trends which the retailer has spotted from analysing their data. For example, if a retailer experiences significant growth in a subcategory, then they may decide to invest in the subcategories growth by offering a larger range for the subcategory. Successful retailers don't take chances or make decisions blindly – they analyse their data and make precise and calculated decisions as to what to add to an assortment.
#4 Align space management with demand
For retailers, successful space planning means utilising the scarce floor and shelf space in-store as efficiently as possible and according to demand. When space management and demand are aligned, then products are allocated space allocations which match product popularity. On the floor planning level, an example would be positioning high volume categories in the far corners of the store to encourage customers to walk past more products.
#5 Align inventory management with demand
Efficient inventory control is vital to the success of any retail operation. Inventory management should always aim to align with consumer demand, but since there are fluctuations in sales , inventory levels should also fluctuate accordingly. To cater for this demand, retailers need to hold enough inventory to support the space allocations mentioned above as well as enough safety stock. This also comes down to accurate and actionable data, such as demand forecasts and an exact overview of all inventory – whether it’s currently on order, already in storage or on route to a customer. Using demand data such as historical POS data along with inventory data can help prevent stock-outs and lost revenue.
Rapidly changing consumers are here to stay and how quickly their needs are met will determine the success of many retail operations. Interested in how you can embrace consumer demand for better results? Try our category management software free for 30 days: