Keep category management at the core

Common grocery items

SLR talks to some of the biggest brands in the business representing the key categories in local retailing to seek the best advice available to help retailers achieve world-class category management.


These days, there’s more to category management that there used to be. The days of looking at a store purely category by category are over. The growth of the mission-based approach have changed all of that and this has huge implications for all aspects of category management. Best practice still looks like it always has and is just as important now as it ever was, but the way the categories interplay with one another is changing. At its most basic level, this requires retailers to ask why customers are coming in-store, whether that is for breakfast, lunch or a big night in.

Many retailers have already started to ensure they have all the relevant products for making basic evening meals grouped together in-store, with a suggestion for tonight’s dinner perhaps (whether or not they are discounted in a ‘dinner deal’). Being ‘solution driven’ isn’t necessarily about promoting these ‘solutions’, more that the ranging and merchandising considerations have been made with satisfying a specific shopper’s ‘mission’ in mind.

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.

But sitting below that big picture approach is the age-old set of principles that underpin great category management. Ranging, merchandising and availability are as vital as always. Crucial to creating and maintaining a best-in-class approach to category management is being open to listening to the advice of suppliers, wholesalers, trade magazines – pretty much anyone who has anything helpful to say on the matter to help you perfect your category management skills in-store. There’s a reason the suppliers spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on research and category management systems: they work.

They ensure that you are stocking the right range, possibly the single most important thing you can do as a retailer. Presenting it will and ensuring 100% availability, or as near to it as you can manage, is the next step. The advancement of modern EPoS systems has made it easier than ever to ensure that you have the right range in stock; running range reviews and identifying which lines are below the acceptable sales threshold is possible at the click of a mouse.

As with everything else in local retailing, category management is a process that never ends. It’s not something that’s ever finished. But if you want to get the very most out of your store, then efficient and effective category management is an absolute must.

Follow this link to find some of the latest and best category management available from some of the biggest brands in the business. Enjoy!