Brick and mortar retail continues to feel the pressure of changing consumer demands for experience and convenience, making a deep understanding of the shopper more essential to a retailer than ever before.
Consider, as we enter a new decade:
Front-end evolution is altering the way we check out.
Click and collect is increasing in popularity.
The way shoppers consume media is changing.
And the retailers’ need to seamlessly integrate digital and physical commerce has become a necessity to compete.
As the shopper’s world rapidly evolves because of technology and growing demands for convenience, more retailers are expanding their shopper data and developing in-house analytics capabilities. Some industry experts foresee a corresponding decline in manufacturer influence and are questioning the need for category advisor partnerships with manufacturers.
David Nolen, Hershey’s VP of category management, agrees that advances in technology are changing retailer-manufacturer relationships, but not in the way experts suggest. “As a concept, ‘category management’ is too narrow to describe the insights retailers need – and the value manufacturers provide.”
Unlocking growth means getting a holistic, macro-view of the shopper’s world.
Tapping the Power of Partner Data-Sharing
Retailer investments in data and analytics are shifting the role of the traditional category advisor – where manufacturers recommend where to put what products on shelf and at what price.
Nolen explains, “There are many retailers who rely on our insights to help plan their aisle, but as more sophisticated retailers progress in omnichannel strategies, our partnership value evolves from aisle expert to shopper expert.”
Partnering with manufacturers in new ways allows retailers to build upon their own data to leverage broader shopper, channel, and market data. The resulting insights provide retailers with a more complete understanding of the “total shopper,” and how to better influence trips and a shopper’s path to purchase.
Against this backdrop, category management becomes an increasingly evolving concept:
eCommerce and on-line behavior influencing in-store purchase creates the need for searchability and physical and digital shelves working together.
Click and collect and home delivery provide new fulfillment challenges and require more holistic planning.
Consumer demand for “frictionless” retail experience now impacts more functions at retail – e.g., it’s not just the operations people anymore; it’s store design, supply chain, trade, media, and merchandising.
Optimizing growth by recognizing and capitalizing on new opportunities requires something greater than traditional category management. It requires a total commerce management partnership – a partnership capable of generating data and uncovering shopper insights that reach beyond the category and help to grow profitable sales.