The assortment management tool “Category Management” is gaining momentum, and almost every fashion businessman has either implemented category management or outlined a plan for its implementation. Category management (CM) is exactly the tool that is useful offline and can guarantee an increase in sales in this direction. But is it possible to apply and implement CM to work with assortment on marketplaces? The question is answered by a regular author of SR - an expert on work and assortment management in fashion retail, analyst and consultant Emina Ponyatova.
expert in the areas of “Assortment planning”, “Analytics and category management” with more than 15 years of experience in the fashion industry. Work experience: buyer and category manager - brands Replay, Pepe Jeans, Hugo Boss, Armani Collezioni, Stefanel, Missoni. Head of Analytical Department - TsentrObuv and Modis. Author and speaker at courses at Fashion Factory, SkillBox and Fashion Advisers schools, consultant and online coach, teacher at the Russian Economic University named after G.V. Plekhanov.
It is necessary for both the marketplace and offline. Planning is the collection and analysis of data on competitors, target audience (TA) and production capabilities. At this stage, everything is the same and there is no difference whether a purchasing plan is drawn up for a marketplace or an offline store. But we must know the target audience.
The target audience
Knowing the target audience will allow you to:
· optimize size slides - abandon ineffective sizes and order optimal slides. For example, knowing that our client has foot problems and is overweight, we can assume that he prefers comfortable or orthopedic lasts, low heels or shoes without any heels. Thus, an idea of who your target audience is makes it possible to order exactly the assortment that the client is looking for;
· carry out marketing activities more effectively - set up advertising campaigns by gender, region, preferences and, accordingly, conversion and return on investment will be higher in this case;
· work with the assortment more efficiently. Preferences, hobbies, frequency of purchases and family status of the client will help to correctly form a matrix in terms of the width and depth of the assortment. For example, if our clients are young mothers on maternity leave, then the choice will be in favor of comfortable low-heeled shoes or sports shoes. The share of the heel and office group in this case will be significantly smaller compared to casual and sports.
This is information about production times, delivery times and the possibility of re-ordering. And knowing the supplier’s production capabilities, we will be able to quickly manage the assortment within the season, that is, based on the pace of sales, we will be able to quickly re-order high-turnover items.
In the absence of the possibility of re-ordering, we must very carefully work through the assortment matrix and order assortment of which we are confident in sales, and monitor sales within the season as much as possible. We won’t be able to re-order top sellers, but there is an opportunity to stimulate outsiders, and we shouldn’t miss it.
Working with competitors
It is also important to work with competitors, and this is relevant for both marketplaces and offline, and this stage will allow you to:
· manage prices. Knowing the price core of competitors will allow you to draw a conclusion about the strategy of each competitor and their strengths. For example, a competitor is focused on low prices, high prices are presented in a narrow assortment - only 2 or 3 color models. We can draw the following conclusion: either the competitor is ready to dump, or he has good production capabilities to make a profit at such prices, or the competitor cannot attract the target audience at high prices;
· create a marketing calendar. Provided that we have chosen the competitor correctly, and we have the same capabilities and common target audience, we can focus on the promotions and promotions that we need to carry out, the discount percentage and the depth of the sale;
· create a basic assortment. By analyzing competitors, it is possible to develop a strategy for the development of product groups and develop a basic assortment. The basic assortment is an assortment for which there is stable demand and sales for which we can predict with high accuracy. That is, the base is our hits and repeats. We must know the strengths and weaknesses of competitors and our product range.
What are the differences between working with assortment for the marketplace?
The key difference is that when working with the marketplace, there is the possibility of optimization due to the absence of restrictions on the physical occupancy of the sales floor, and we can make money even on one product group. The important thing at this stage is to analyze competitors and work with your target audience. And any simplification is always beneficial to the business routine, and makes it possible to increase profits and simplify work.
When managing the assortment within the season for the marketplace, all the key business processes of category management of traditional offline fashion retail are preserved. This is an analysis of the main commercial indicators - revenue, quantitative sales, balances, margin, income.
The only significant difference is that some marketplaces have a reporting period and, accordingly, a decision-making period of more than one week. Let me remind you that in traditional fashion retail, the reporting period is a week, that is, decisions are made based on sales for the week worked. Reports in a certain form for the week worked are provided by Wildberries. Ozon provides reports only on a monthly basis. Accordingly, to analyze and make decisions, we can take data for a week or a month, and then we can evaluate the result and effectiveness after a week or a month.
It is important to understand the main purpose of entering the marketplace.
If the goal is to catch trends and quickly launch a new product, without strengthening or developing the range, without having its own production, then category management may not be needed. But if the goal is to seriously work with your assortment, brand or production, then introducing or working with category management is necessary. After all, category management is the basis of assortment management and it makes no difference in what format the point of sale operates - offline, online, marketplace or social networks/messengers. For success and efficiency, it is important to understand this key tool for business management in the fashion segment.
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