Faced with the disruptive forces of savvy shoppers and intense competition, assortment planning is more complex than ever for retail brands. These forces impact your ability to provide the right products at the right prices, places and times for a superior customer experience.
What is Assortment Planning?
Product assortment planning involves determining which products to offer for sale. While traditional retail assortment planning focuses on the product, today's most successful brands focus on the customer when making retail assortment planning decisions.
To Build A Successful Merchandising Mix, you need to know exactly what consumers are buying.
To attract shopper traffic, companies now adopt a demand-driven, customer-centric assortment optimization strategy has become as a business necessity. Your retail assortment management strategy also needs to evolve from a definitive "Here's what we will sell" to an inquisitive "What should we sell? What does the customer want from us?" The right answer for you lies in consumer and competitive trends.
What’s Affecting Your Product Assortment Profitability?
The following trends are reinventing retail assortment planning and profitability today:
- The Endless Aisle: Amid today’s digital and mobile revolution, consumers want to shop anytime, anywhere. They demand an omnichannel retail experience, so they can browse and buy products in-store and online, including mobile. Now an e-commerce shopper who finds a product they desire only to learn the product is available “in-store only” -or it’s out of stock-will likely feel disappointed and shop else where. Meeting shoppers' omnichannel expectations requires a thoughtful approach to assortment management in retail.To maximize your profitability, your assortment optimization strategy must integrate products, pricing and inventory across channels.
- Serving Global and Local Shoppers: E-commerce has brought marketplaces around the world to consumers' fingertips. Now you must adapt your product assortment to simultaneously serve a global audience and the unique needs of local markets. Use data insights and product assortment solutions to identify localized trends, plus a more generic, global approach to tailor your assortment planning process in retail.
- More is More (for Retail Giants): Today’s leading retailers turn their physical stores and e-commerce sites into shopping destinations by providing wide assortments. With more than 350 million products for sale, Amazon offers the convenience of unmatched assortment and a single source of detailed product descriptions and reviews. (Rival Walmart's online assortment recently topped 10 million products; the typical Walmart super center stocks 150,000 SKUs.) By attracting diverse consumers who browse, buy and review products, Amazon collects rich data to inform its assortment decisions by knowing precisely which products are most in demand. Product assortment solutions and data can help match your offerings to your target's unique needs.
- Know Your Rivals: Smart retailers analyze their competitors’ assortments to identify which products they have in common and which ones are unique. For assortment optimization in retail, competitive analysis helps you identify product gaps and make intelligent assortment decisions, such as whether to allocate more marketing muscle and shelf space to exclusive brands or private label products.
Reinvigorate Your Product Assortment Strategy
To adapt to the new retail reality, it’s time for your company to embrace innovative solutions.
- Understand Shopper Decision-Making: To anticipate shoppers' needs and proactively adapt their assortment strategies, retailers now start with consumer data insights. The abundance of consumer data, beyond sales history, helps you understand what's truly in demand. Accurate data gives you visibility and certainty about what shoppers search for, browse, buy and share online, and how they evaluate products. Harness proven consumer trends to make data-driven assortment decisions to improve your customer experience.
- Boost Your Agility with Real-Time Insights: By aligning your customer insights and assortment analytics with retail assortment planning software, you can achieve assortment optimizati onto drive sales, enhance forecasting and boost profit margins. Retail assortment planning software helps you gain accurate data insights to effectively tailor your product assortment for your overall brand, as well as individual stores. For instance, most large consumer products companies have a complex portfolio of hundreds of brands across multiple categories. Using retail assortment planning software helps them identify which elements to retain, improve and remove to deliberately allocate scarce resources toward high-performing products.
Drive Consumer Traffic With the Right Assortment
What is assortment planning? It’s an opportunity for retail companies to provide unique product assortments, which consumers actually want to buy. By linking assortment planning tools with consumer data insights - and staying ahead of consumer and competitor trends - you can uncover new opportunities to deliver a seamless, omnichannel shopping journey to boost sales, loyalty and lifetime value per customer.
Plan and source the appropriate assortment to fill the gaps in your existing product catalog.
For assortment optimization insights in retail, Intelligence Node offers Incompetitor®, a retail analytics software that gives you visibility into your competitors' pricing, promotion and catalog strategies. Its real-time insights ensure your online retail presence - including product assortment - is always one step ahead of the competition.