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Scalable tech to address new era of category management
Aug '12
There is no doubt consumers are returning to both brick-and-mortar stores and online shopping channels with renewed confidence. Recent increases in household savings levels and lower unemployment rates – along with an $800 billion decline in consumer debt since 2008 – are among the latest signals that consumers are ready to start spending again.

For many companies, however, the new era of category management has placed them in a reactive mode. Category management executives are struggling to answer foundational questions such as “What SKUs should we be offering?” “How should our assortments vary across stores?” and “What are the unmet needs in our category?”

“The cost of getting an assortment wrong, or failing to ensure product availability, cannot be underestimated in today’s ultra-connected and ultra-competitive retail world,” said Danny Halim, vice president, industry strategies, JDA Software. “When shoppers walk away from a store because they cannot find an advertised special, they may be abandoning a cart full of nonrelated items. They may be headed to a competitive channel, where they can build long-term loyalty. The impact of one disappointment can be significant and lasting.”
To respond more quickly to market changes, JDA Software Group, Inc.(NASDAQ: JDAS), The Supply Chain Company, suggests that category management teams turn to some of the following proven practices that affect the merchandising strategy execution quality.
Store-Level Planograms: Consumer product companies are getting increased pressures from retailers and consumers to localize assortment and shelf plans according to local consumer buying behaviors. The effort required to analyze, develop and maintain thousands of store-level planograms requires an intelligent decision support and automation that incorporate store-specific fixture, performance and merchandising rules. “The ability to accurately develop store-level planograms is critical to ensure a top-level merchandising strategy is executed as planned,” said Halim.
Three-Dimensional Visualization: New three-dimensional solutions enable consumer products manufacturers to conduct space and floor planning in a smart, virtual reality environment that replicates the retail aisle. Thanks to these powerful tools, companies can test and collaborate on new ideas with their retailers, and consumers, without spending too much on building prototypes or taking too much time performing market testing. 

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