One of the reasons retailers exist is to satisfy consumer demand. Shoppers need a product and if you’re the appropriate retailer, you need to supply it. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s simple to do. There are many different elements that must be in place for you to provide the right products at the right time and price.
This is where category management can help. That said, you can do more than just cater for consumer demand with category management. You can also drive it.
Localise your product assortment to meet consumer demand
Your customers walk into your store because they’re looking for a particular product. It could be because they’re doing their weekly grocery shop or they might have walked past and realised they needed a product. Either way, they’re standing in your store and are ready to make a purchase.
The last thing you’d want is for them to find out that you either don’t stock the product or you’ve recently run out of stock. Both scenarios are equally bad for your business and can have long-term consequences.
Fortunately, there are a few simple solutions to help you guard against this. One of these solutions is called assortment planning. Not just any old assortment planning, mind you. Localised assortment planning. That’s because to cater to and meet customer demand, your product assortment must be aimed specifically at your target market.
Remember, your customers are coming into your store for a specific range of products. If you don’t have them, that’s a problem.
But how do you find out what products to stock and place in your assortment? Simple: data. More specifically, it’s the retail data you can collect from your POS system. With this data at hand, you can determine which products are in high demand and selling well and which aren’t moving off your shelves. You can read this piece to find out more about how retail analytics can improve assortment planning.
That said, this goes beyond simply meeting consumer demand. By localising your product assortment, you’re also providing an in-store experience that ensures customers keep coming back when they need that product again. Keep exceeding their expectations and they’ll also shop for other products when they come to your store.
Present your products in a way that caters for (and drives) demand
As much as you need to consider which products to put in your store, you also need to pay careful attention to how you present them. In fact, it could be argued that you should consider how you’re going to display your items even before deciding on your final product assortment.
Sounds contentious but let us explain.
The retail displays you use aren’t just there for decoration. They all have a specific purpose. By the way, before we go any further, it needs to be said that when we mention ‘retail displays’, we’re referring to all types from your window displays to your displays in-store.
Your window displays, for example, are there to draw your customer into your stores. Imagine someone walking past your store and seeing a product that they realise they need. They thus walk into your store to make the purchase. Without that window display, though, they wouldn’t necessarily have realised that they needed that product. You’ve thus created consumer demand.
But it doesn’t stop there. Once in your store, you also need to make use of retail displays so as to pull your customers through your store. Gondola ends are worth using in this instance as they can draw your customers into an aisle that they might not have intended to shop. In-store promotions can help too.
Cross Merchandise to create demand where it might not have been
While the above two category management actions can help you to cater for and meet consumer demand, there is also an action that can drive it.
Here we’re talking about the merchandising technique known as cross-merchandising. Also referred to as cross-selling, it’s highly tactical and is defined as the practice of displaying complementary products from different categories together.
By using this merchandising technique, you’re making it easier for your customers to shop in your stores. You’re also saving them time. How? Let’s take customer A who is shopping in your store as an example. He’s looking specifically for a battery-operated toy for his child for Christmas. What goes well with this? Batteries, of course. So you’d want to consider including a display with batteries right next to the toy section.
In essence, what you’ve done is you’ve created a demand for a product where there might not have been in the first place. Another way of explaining it is this: you’re making your customers aware that there is a product that complements the one they’re about to purchase. And it only makes sense to buy them together.
That said, it’s not just cross-merchandising that can help create or meet demand. It can be also argued that the other merchandising techniques available to you can also play a significant role. A few of the most common techniques used are vertical, horizontal and colour block merchandising.
By using a colour block merchandising technique, for example, you can draw your customers to a shelf or display. As a result, they’re seeing a product/s that they might not have thought of getting but now want to.