The relationship between vendors and retailers will be shifting in 2015. According to marketing expert Toby Desforges, there will be a redefinition of category management in the new year. To better equip your business for this change, learn what the top three trends will be to follow. While the traditional definition of category management is the collaboration of retailers and vendors to better serve the customer, these relationships are in for some change with the emergence of technology, social media, and consumer expectations. Here are the top three trends to look out for this year:
1. Real-Time Operations:
In the past, when vendors and retailers came together to manage categories, they created what Desforges calls “one-shot” projects. They would share data collected from frequent shopper cards and surveys, as well as industry trends. From there, the partners would develop mid-range strategies that would articulate operations for a set period of time, such a three or six months.
With the emergence of mobile devices and accompanying software, this element of category management will look much different. Instead of adhering to a single plan, vendors and retailers can collect data in real-time, allowing them to tweak and change operations as necessary. To keep up with this trend, businesses will need a tool, such as Field Activity Management software, that will easily gather data and enable reps to share that data in real time through the Cloud.
2. Consumer Personalization:
Another trend Desforges points out is the shift towards customer personalization. Category management has historically focused on consumers as a group, rather than individuals. Yet with the explosion of mobile device and app use, consumers are expecting personalized interaction with retailers and brands. There are two key ways that retailers and vendors can meet this new trend: understand exactly what individual consumers want, and take the time to personally interact with them during the purchase path.
To gather insightful data on consumers, vendors should equip their field reps with Field Activity Management software tools. These solutions offer platforms, such as customizable forms, for reps to gather information via in-store surveys. Retailers can then collaborate with vendors using their own data, gathered from loyalty card users and mobile retail apps. Once the data has been analyzed to determine consumer needs, another level of personalization can be reached with in-store advice and promotions tailored to those needs.
3. Redefined Relationships:
Retail leaders, like Walmart, understand the need for outstanding communication with their vendors. Because the core essence of category management is the relationship between vendors and retailers, equal effort from both sides is required. For businesses trying to develop retail partnerships, it will be important to demonstrate a superior level of employee accountability. Being able to offer systematic check-ups on rep activities will make a business a more attractive partner.
Leveraging a Field Activity Management software solution will enable back-office managers to see geo-tagged pins for each project a rep has started or finished. Additionally, retail audits with photo documentation will create an environment of consistent merchandising across a team of reps. To effectively raise the level of success in managing categories in 2015, retailers and vendors will be using solutions like software tools to initiate real-time collaboration, personalized marketing, and healthy business relationships.
Erin P. Friar
Erin Friar is a Content Marketing Journalist Intern at Repsly, Inc. and is completing a Journalism degree at Suffolk University. She is a master of grammar and is passionate about creating fresh content to help foster efficiency and overall success in small businesses.