Retailer line reviews can be daunting for brands that seek optimal in-store placement, but there’s a secret: Don’t try to eat the whole elephant. Take control of your line review one data bite at a time.
Big data – it sounds daunting just saying it out loud, doesn’t it? Now combine that with every retailer challenging their supplier partners to make “big data” relevant to their customers, categories and assortment decisions. Just like that, you’re staring straight at that whole elephant in the room in preparation for your next product line review. Welcome to the new paradigm in annual planning!
Never fear, however, because big data can actually be a line review’s greatest ally. Dicing that elephant up into manageable—and actionable—bites. Leveraging those insights to guide the review and educate a merchant, all while putting you in a position of leadership as a partner. Sounds great, right?
So let’s start tackling those elephants and knocking them down to size.
Starter Kit For Incorporating Big Data Into Line Reviews
Step 1 – Ask a few questions
Prior to every line review, schedule an exploratory work session with your merchandising team. This is an opportunity to see what’s on their mind. What influenced their category this past year? What are their business goals? Competitive challenges? Dig for questions they don’t have answers to. This will guide your usage of that big data. It will keep you focused on looking for the right answers.
Step 2 – Find the right data sources
Now that you’ve identified those opportunities that are keeping your merchandising team up at night, it’s time to find the right corresponding data sources. This may require blending data together from several different sources. Could be retailer centered—transactions, traffic counts, category sales, store format, trade area radius and so on. Or it may come from third-party sources—census information, weather, credit card, loyalty programs, housing starts, vehicle registration, etc.
Remember, the goal is to have the right information guide the insights to tell the story you want to tell. It’s all about removing the “big” from the “data.”
Step 3 – Let the insights guide your storyline
Now it’s time to craft your product’s storyline. Leverage the insights you’ve gained to bring new knowledge to the table for the merchant team. Add value, not only to your specific product line, but to the department and category. Think from big to small. What is the most global issue the merchant team is facing? Answer that first. What does that guide in relationship to consumer needs, wants and desires? What are the implications on brand assortment, pricing, shelf allocation, even marketing?
Most importantly, keep your story streamlined and insightful. Don’t let the data get too overwhelming. You’ve worked hard to dice it up. Keep it bite-sized and actionable. Sometimes the best stories are told in the fewest words.
Line Review Data Best Practices: Applied
Our team recently used this three-step process to help a partner with their line review for a major do-it-yourself retailer. The first step uncovered several questions related to the selling season for a particular department. Some markets were pacing normally while others were barely moving any product.
During step two, we worked to identify the right data sources to inform our insights into what could be causing the slow start. Initial sources included three years of weekly sales/traffic POS data for each of the retailer’s store locations. That was combined with Google search queries, IBM Watson’s weather data and a few other third-party inputs. Then, we input all that data into Callahan’s proprietary Intelligence Platform for analysis. The platform enables an important forensics process to uncover the most valuable insights for the brand and the retailer.
That analysis revealed a key weather insight that explained the delayed start of the selling season. In step three, using the insight, we were able to create a stronger storyline for their upcoming product line review. The brand’s story hinged on the insight. It guided decisions on shipping, in-store merchandising, offer pricing, marketing activation and a proactive category messaging strategy that would use the weather as a trigger point. Not only answering the merchant team’s original questions but adding value by bringing new solutions that could help both the retailer and brand have more success in the future.
Don’t let the elephant take over your next line review. Focus on the real questions that needs to be answered. Take the “big” out of the data. Then, let the insights guide your brand’s storyline to a win-win for you and your brand’s retail partners.