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Category management

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What is Category Management ?

« It is the entire process of managing the offer to facilitate the sale. It is based on analyses from the retailer's and manufacturer's point of view, so that the mutual value of the business proposition can be identified. Considerations include product assortment, price, promotion, placement, timing and, to some extent, packaging. »


Who is involved in Category Management within the organization?

Category management involves at least four major departments of the organization - category development, marketing, supply chain and sales.

  1. Category development is in charge of master data. This is the repository for all data relating to the products marketed by the organization. It leads supply management and oversees the execution of the marketing plan with field sales forces.
  2. Marketing is in charge of creating a link with customers or prospects. It proposes studies to assist in strategic and operational decision-making and designs product or service offers. It is the guarantor of the brand image and sets up promotional plans to boost sales or help referencing.
  3. Sales acts on two levels. At the national level with the sales department, which is in charge of the organization's commercial policy. And at the regional level with the sales force enforcing this policy. They are the guarantors of the customer relationship and ensure field visits.
  4. The supply chain coordinates the links in the supply chain (suppliers, company, customers) to ensure that goods are delivered on time.

How do the different departments collaborate?

Following the development of an innovation, the marketing department creates the article sheet or the article switch and communicates the availability date to the categorical development. The latter will then lead the implementation of the annual plan (and N+1) in order to ensure that the referencing objectives are met. To do this, it makes the information available to key accounts that will negotiate agreements with buyers. When a listing date is determined, the supply chain prepares the goods and delivers them to the customer's warehouse.

The field sales teams then activate the reference with the head of department and will make the presence and highlighting of the products. At the end of the referencing cycle, an analysis of the CRM and panelist data allows the category manager to check that the plan’s objectives are well-achieved.

If sales are not achieved, actions involving the different departments (category development, marketing and sales forces) are taken to promote the products and boost sales.

Why Category Management has become a key issue?

Since 2001, we have been auditing retail manufacturers and have identified the following issues:

  • An increase in the number of products in the assortment: innovation is permanent and the stock of the number of references is increasing. There are also more and more brands to manage.
  • An increasingly limited space on the shelves: the number of references is increasing, but the size of the shelves remains the same. The possibilities to enlarge or change the allocation of space are limited. These restrictions are reinforced by the multiplication of convenience stores in the heart of urban spaces. Smaller structures aggravate space issues.
  • A multiplication of distribution channels: there are now more than 7 distribution channels to be taken into account for the management of assortments. A multiplying factor that complicates the equation for category managers.
  • The Influence of Unforeseen Economic Factors: Need to Be Able to React Quickly. We’ve seen this recently with the COVID-19 crisis. Consumers favored drive and online ordering, moving away from traditional store circuits.
  • Workflows that hamper agility: the majority of management tools used have been designed for organizational purposes and do not take into account the need for collaboration, real-time communication and transparency between teams. Generally, this results in an overuse of Excel and e-mailing, hindering the reliability of the information exchanged and causing significant loss of time coupled with a lack of efficiency.

Why set up a tool to optimize Category Management?

Are you working with too many Excel files?

Are you wasting your time writing dozens of e-mails a day?

Do you want to benefit from automatic reports?

Image Access compiled sign views, comparative tables of your actual vs. negotiated circulation, track the evolution of your ND and WD, closely watch segment summaries and more... Here's how eCOS® Assort will help you do it.

Set up a clear process around the offer

In order to perform, teams must be structured. This starts with an audit aimed at identifying good practices and dysfunction. Then by federating the teams around the software, we redefine roles by assigning clear projects to each one. Everyone knows what to do, when and how to do it! Teams are revalued and processes optimized.

Having a unique product database

The goal is to offer time and relative ease to the teams! All references are imported into eCOS® so that you can work collaboratively, directly online. Each piece of information is directly taken into account and visible to all users. By making it more reliable, errors and omissions due to the multiplication of Excel files and their exchanges are avoided.

Bring more comfort with a relevant and efficient dashboard

eCOS® Assort is designed so that the user can quickly find the data they need. Whether it's to view consolidated data at the store level for comparison or to access a stratified view, it's just a few clicks away. The numerous reports offered are updated in real time for greater responsiveness and efficiency in decision-making.

Integrate panel data and automate its processing

The data of your panelists (IRI, Nielsen...) are loaded into the software as soon as they are available at the end of the period. This way you can accurately track your transformations. Your dashboard is automatically updated with clear graphs allowing you to follow the activity comfortably. You can thus devote your time to analysis without losing time when processing the data.

Christel Chaulet, Director of Category Development at Danone

« eCOS® Assort is a powerful, reliable and scalable assortment management solution. »

Christel Chaulet,
Director of Category Development at Danone
Christel Chaulet, Directrice du développement catégoriel chez Danone
« eCOS® Assort is a powerful, reliable and scalable assortment management solution. »
Christel Chaulet,
Director of Category Development at Danone
Externis Group

Externis, the creator of eCOS® Blue Eagle, the first all-in-one SaaS suite designed exclusively for optimizing your retail execution. Trusted by a wide range of industry players, including brands, distributors, wholesalers, and more, across all distribution channels.

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Externis Group

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