Category management is at the core of every c-store

Shelves in shop

Category management remains the most important element of running a convenience store, but with a changing retail environment and changing customers, it’s an area that retailers can never take their eye off – which is why SLR is on hand to provide the latest thinking from key suppliers.

Being the best in class is the goal of any ambitious retailer but getting there takes years of dedication and hard work. And it is work that never stops. While all around us the convenience environment is changing, customer behaviour is changing and stores themselves are changing, the fundamentals of running a successful convenience store have not. Without getting your ranging and merchandising right, it doesn’t matter what you do elsewhere, the chances of having a successful business are nil.

So, while adding auxiliary services, engaging with your local community and embracing technology are all part of a suite of elements that retailers must add to their business to succeed, beneath it all, Category Management is at the core of any c-store, and whether it’s that food-to-go chiller at the front of the store, or the ambient grocery at the back, ensuring the right products are in the right place is key.

Crucial to this is heeding the advice of suppliers and symbol groups that you may discuss such matters with – while no one knows a local audience like a local retailer, there’s a reason suppliers and groups spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on category management systems: they work.

They ensure that you are stocking the right range, which is the single most important thing you can do as a retailer, along with ensuring that stock is out on display, and for that matter, in the right place. The advancement of EPoS has made it easier than ever to ensure that you have the right range in stock; even independent retailers can run range reviews and see which lines are below the acceptable sales threshold. Good category management means not continuing to stock a product in the hope that it will sell. Realistically, it’s taking the place of a line that could be earning you money, so ditch the slow sellers in each category.

So know your best sellers, know which new products are worth stocking, and if you are lucky enough to be visited by suppliers in key categories then following their advice is crucial.

If you don’t get these visits, in fact, even if you do, then the following guide to category management offers up a number of tips on how to driving maximum profit from key categories such as tobacco, newstrade and hot drinks.

As well as range, an equal focus should be given over to merchandising the store correctly, from ensuring the right categories are in the best possible place, from ensuring impulse lines are within reach from the tillpoint area to establishing the flow of traffic through the store to maximise basket spend.

As local retailers know, getting it right every day in life is a difficult thing to achieve, but by doing so, the chances of growing sales and building customer loyalty improve, and that is the key to a successful store.

SLR’s Top 10 Category Management tips

  • Review EPoS and place orders according to sales, not habits
  • Listen to advice from suppliers
  • Regularly review range and delist slow sellers
  • Know what NPD will be in greatest demand
  • Train staff to minimise out of stocks
  • Be sure to make promotions highly visible
  • Walk your shop like a customer – do you like the layout? Are you being disrupted?
  • Regularly visit your competitors – how does your ranging and merchandising compare?
  • Use secondary and tertiary sitings
  • Make good use of POS and other in-store theatre.

Tea category management

Tobacco category management

News category management