A RetailWire poll in June of last year found respondents split on the value of SKU rationalization efforts. Forty-two percent stated that efforts undertaken by retailers were somewhat (26 percent) or very unsuccessful (16 percent). Forty-one percent thought SKU rationalization had been somewhat (39 percent) or very successful (two percent). Eighteen percent said the book was still out.
Perhaps the most high-profile SKU rationalization program took place at Walmart as part of the company's Project Impact that sought to clean up the chain's shopping environment. A subsequent dip in sales resulted in numerous executive and operational changes, including the announcement yesterday that Walmart was adding 8,500 SKUs to its mix.
Walmart plans to add an average of 11 percent more products to the average store. Shelf tags announcing "It's Back" will accompany products that had been delisted and subsequently brought back.
"We've listened to our customers and we're bringing back the products and brands they want," Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer, Walmart U.S., said in a press release. "Customers have already seen a wider selection of products on our shelves and we'll continue to bring back great products at great prices."
Another RetailWire poll conducted last month found that SKU rationalization efforts need to look beyond simple sales numbers to succeed. Consumer loyalty for a particular product was listed as the element most critical (33 percent) to determine before cutting a product.
Does Walmart's reintroduction of thousands of previously delisted products make it more or less likely that others will alter their own SKU rationalization efforts?