Six challenges for category management and how to overcome them

Date : 04 March 2019

Shoppers’ needs and expectations are evolving, and so are retailers as the market becomes more competitive. Here are some common challenges that category managers will face, with tips on how to meet them. 

1. Differentiation: give shoppers a good reason to choose the store 

Shoppers will need more than just low prices and a convenient location to attract them. Differentiation must be a key part of your marketing and commercial plans, especially in an increasingly competitive market. 

You must clearly identify your target shoppers and their needs. Retailers – focus on what’s different and better about your store. Suppliers – show how your plans will make the retailer stand out from its competition. 

2. Creative curation: show retailers why they need your product

Retailers are stocking smaller ranges because of pressure to cut costs and be more productive. Plus, strong performances from limited-range discounters have led them to question the size of range required.  There’s greater focus on making sure products meet shoppers’ needs, with no duplication. 

To gain distribution, show the retailer your product has a clear, unique proposition. You’ll need to demonstrate the benefits of including your product in the range. And, with the days of national distribution ending, consider new ways to launch products. 

3. Rebalanced insight: make yourself indispensable 

Retailers have growing access to sophisticated data on shopping behaviour and sales dynamics. And they’re getting better at using it. It won’t be long before it influences individual category strategies and they rely less on suppliers for category-level insight. 

Be clear on where you can add value in your collaboration with retailers. Show you can contribute something positive. 

4. Stepping out of the category: consider the total store

Retailers are trying to meet as many shopper missions as possible. They’re increasingly looking to optimise the total store to do this. 

Consider the impact of your proposals on other categories. Take advantage of cross-category opportunities by extending your knowledge and understanding of different shopper missions. 

5. Omnichannel: give shoppers consistency and clarity 

Shoppers have never been so well informed. They’ll continue to use technology before, during, and after their shop. So, retailers and suppliers need to give them a seamless, positive experience.

Make sure you understand where shoppers will interact with you. Is your message clear and consistent across all these touchpoints? 

6. Implementing in-store: make it easy for retailers 

Only 37% of retail respondents agree suppliers’ proposals are practical and easy for them to implement. That’s according to our 2018 category management collaboration and capability survey. Plus, retailers’ focus on cutting supply chain costs challenges their ability to implement initiatives consistently well. 

Easy implementation should be a key objective of your category management projects. Consider how you can support the retailer by offering simpler solutions or helping in-store. 

What next?

  •  Are your category management practices fit for the future? To find out where category management is today and the future implications for you, join us at IGD Live
  • Improve your category management skills with our range of courses
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