Why Categories Matter

The CEO of Impact 21 recently shared with Convenience Corner how to develop an effective balance between retailers and suppliers in category management.
May 18, 2018

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Why should retailers pay attention to categories within their stores? Because having a systematic, disciplined approach to managing categories creates strategic business units and allows retailers to meet customer needs. Recently, Convenience Corner interviewed Lesley Saitta, CEO of Impact 21, about how to effectively manage categories.

“Category management helps retailers and suppliers work together to analyze business performance, better serve customer needs and increase sales and profits,” Saitta said. “Without question, category management is one of the most important business processes developed for retail.”

To assist retailers, NACS has recommended definitions of categories and subcategories, which can be found in NACS Category Definitions and Numbering Guide – Version 7.2. To be effective, retailers and suppliers must work together. “At a fundamental level, category management is driven by the retailer, but is heavily supported by suppliers with competitive data, market/industry data and consumer insights. Additionally, as brands are being marketed today through new digital channels, retailers are working with suppliers to leverage these insights and learn more about consumers in real-time,” she pointed out.

While category management started in the convenience store industry to counteract blurring between channels, “category management has continued to evolve with changes in the retail landscape,” Saitta said. “One size no longer fits all, as customers create ever-changing segments with unique behaviors and expectations based on lifestyle and/or lifecycle.”

As a result, retailers have begun to review category much more frequently as suppliers share data and help identify trends. “Category managers can now see specific customer behaviors, at specific stores or channels, in close to real time. Relevant and targeted messages and offers can be disseminated across any platform that a customer desires. Lastly, the customer experience is no longer just an in-store or forecourt transaction. Our customers are interacting with our brand across multiple digital platforms and expect a seamless experience,” she said.

For more insights into category management in the c-store industry, you can read the entire interview here, which also provides a downloadable guide, “Principles of Category Management.”