Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Tenser's Tirades blog.
How should category management professionals adjust to a world with vastly more information and a good deal less control?
The accompanying diagram identifies ten factors or sources of input that a category manager of the future might incorporate into planning decisions. Many are familiar — optimization of assortment, price, promotion and markdowns. Others such as macro space planning solutions, automated replenishment and capacity planning also interact in a dizzying matrix.
Now fold in the massive influence of social/mobile/local media and online shopping and search behaviors which are manifest as Big Data. We are witness to the vanishing boundaries of the in-store environment due to the advent of personal digital technology, changing consumer habits, omni-channel business models and immense new flows of unstructured and structured data. I call this the Incredible Dissolving Store.
Big Data adherents postulate that we will soon be routinely mining these external data flows for relevant behavioral insights and applying those insights on a continuous basis to enable shopper success and sustain meaningful competitive advantage.
All these new data-based influences mean the locus of power is rapidly leaving the store and distributing across your customers' mobile devices. The shopper is always in the center — no matter where you go, there they are.
It becomes increasingly apparent that category management in the Incredible Dissolving Store will not be about solving the equation — it will be about tuning the system. New analytics tools make the keys to relevance more accessible and more automated than ever; the lifecycle of your decisions, shorter than ever. The power resides in the network and in the hands of individual shoppers.
Category management, like it or not, is rapidly shifting from an orderly, controlled, recursive, planning process with boundaries and well-defined metrics into a deliberately disorderly, multidimensional, broad, shape-shifting and organic process that incorporates planning, detection, response and continuous strategic reconsideration.
In the Incredible Dissolving Store, we need to get used to the kind of ongoing discomfort this implies and think very carefully about the metrics we use to define success. If we listen actively and shed our bias, the shoppers will tell us what those must be.
Will mobile consumers and Big Data likely enhance or dilute the influence of category managers at the store level?