COLORADO SPRINGS — The general merchandise sector will soon have access to a new analytics tool designed to provide improved category measurement and management.
Slated to launch in the first quarter of 2012 via a portal on the Global Market Development Center’s website (gmdc.org), the platform will provide category-level syndicated sales data that retailers can use to compare their chain’s GM sales against trends in the grocery channel and other channels, such as drug and mass.
The tool provides a first-ever single source of this data for the GM industry, said Mark Deuschle, GMDC’s chief marketing officer and vice president of business development. GMDC members will be able to access the data for free.
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The platform currently provides category data, although brand-level data may be added in the future.
At a time when shelf space for light bulbs, batteries and other GM categories has been reduced in favor of perimeter departments, the analytics will help category managers demonstrate why certain GM products warrant more attention.
“Our mission is to give retailers the data to defend and justify the GM department,” Deuschle said.
The tool was developed via a partnership comprising GMDC, Nielsen, consulting firm Radian, and a number of GMDC’s retailer/wholesaler and supplier members. Data is based on 87% of food channel sales (representing 190 food retailers and 12,900 stores) and more than 600 categories.
The initial release will enable comparison across channels, the ability to look at sales versus distribution productivity and other “simple” analytics that the industry takes for granted in the CPG space, according to Stuart Taylor, senior vice president, custom analytics, Nielsen. “Even the concept of measuring simple sales and share is new for this department,” he said.
“We’re turning this light on for the first time,” he said.
With mass, dollar and other channels courting GM shoppers, the GMDC/Nielsen web platform will help food retailers better compete for GM sales, said Dewayne Rabon, vice president of general merchandise, health and beauty and family care at Winn-Dixie/Bi-Lo, Jacksonville, Fla.
“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to compete in this area,” said Rabon, who chairs GMDC’s Education Leadership Council.
Losing GM shoppers is financially dangerous because once they go to another channel for, say, kitchen gadgets, they may start buying meat, produce and other groceries there, too, he said.
“You need a presence in GM to keep the shopper in your store,” he said.
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Managing many GM categories has been difficult, however, due to a lack of uniform coding practices, he said. Often, one retailer will classify an item under one category, while another retailer lists it differently.
“The hierarchies are all over the place,” said Rabon.
The GMDC platform makes GM more manageable by breaking down categories into subsets, helping category managers to determine what’s driving sales.
“Nielsen is building modules so that we can start looking at categories in ways we never could before,” he said.
This, in turn, will help retailers make better decisions in areas like shelf space, assortment, adjacencies, off-shelf merchandising and pricing.
“Once we have the right offerings, we will see certain categories turn around [in sales],” said Rabon.
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