COVID-19 has had a huge effect on the retail industry forcing many retailers off-road, but now is the time to revisit your categories and ensure you are maximising your range and space!
New ways of doing business
To say it’s been a rough ride in recent times is something of an understatement. Retailers across the country have poured blood, sweat and tears into keeping shelves full while maintaining and implementing endless physical restrictions the virus been brought with it!
New customers added
With so many tasks that took a backseat due to Covid-19, category management may seem low-priority, but ensuring your categories are well-managed could be crucial to holding on to those all-important new customers won during the pandemic.
Changes in shopper habits
The impact of several lockdowns and a shift from frequent shopping visits to larger shopping visits combined with shoppers preferring to use local shops has led to many different shopper patterns.
E.G the sharing category (snacking) and the meal preparation category (home cooking). These changes directly impacted product ranges with more demand of certain products which has led to big increases in associated categories and more pressure on facings and shelf space. On top of that consider other huge increases in the cleaning categories like household and paperware for some reason??
This change in behaviour has been sudden and it’s not known how much of it is now ‘learned behaviour' so it raises the question, should you re-evaluate your category strategies especially in the categories that have seen such a resurgence?
More growth more demand on shelf space
With so much growth in such a short time for many grocery retailers, this has put pressure on maintaining the correct space allocation and facings to ensure your shoppers are not faced with empty gaps instead of the products they need
In addition, many retailers have brought in new products due to supply shortages on their existing lines, but how many of these are short term or permanent substitutes?
Brexit and availability issues
As lockdown loosens, retailers are realising that it’s time to kick their categories back into shape. But another big problem which again has surfaced (Covid diverted attention from it) will continue to challenge many Irish retailers, is the availability issue.
Its not unusual (in some categories) that out of 40skus, at least 10 could be missing from the shelves due to ‘availability issues’ meaning Brexit!
Is normal Category Management the solution?
Category management revolves around the concepts of efficient assortment, efficient supply, market trends and detailed knowledge of your shoppers, the application of the normal vehicles to deliver the benefits will be too resource-intensive and time-consuming to generate a meaningful return under pandemic conditions but there are many benefits of taking a fast-track Category flexible approach.
Fast track Category Management
Sometimes referred to as Space planning+ the fast-track approach takes into account existing knowledge of market trends and changes in range to address the key issues which can be turned around much quicker than a full blown cat man process, it ensures you can take advantage of shifts in consumer behaviour or availability issues to alter the range and space in your planograms thus ensuring you maximise the opportunity, this approach will be essential in the post lockdown era as shopper behaviour no doubt will change again!
Anyway that's just my view but if you would like to explore more on fast track please get in touch, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.shelfstock.ie