A New Version of the Truth for Category Managers

01.18.2022 | Mike Troy

A major transformation of category management awaits as retailers and CPG’s gain new in store insights with computer vision

Category management has undergone many changes since its birth in the 1980’s, but nothing compares to the transformational change now unfolding in the grocery industry. That’s not hype, it’s the impact of a proliferation of data from an expanding universe of source combined with the use of artificial intelligence to make sense of it. However, even with these advances, a huge blind spot remained for those involved in category planning, supply chain and store operations.

Not anymore. The digitization of stores and advances in computer vision offer the potential for unprecedented visibility into sources of data that can improve decision-making across multiple dimensions. Here’s a look around the corner at some of the major benefits that await those who adopt computer vision in stores and exploit the capabilities of AI.

  • Visibility of shelf conditions
    This is a blessing for store operations teams because exceptions can be identified in near real time to alert store personnel of corrective actions to minimize stockouts. Research at SymphonyAI shows stockouts continue to run in excess of mid-single digits throughout grocery, despite considerable attention paid to the issue. Even modest improvement in on-shelf availability can do wonders for sales, shopper satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Early identification of supply challenges
    Retailers don’t know how much they don’t know about what is really happening – or not happening – on shelf if they don’t have computer vision providing real time visibility. Shelf integrated cameras strategically located in key departments and categories help retailers gain insights into larger issues lurking in their supply chains, supplier or brand specific opportunities that require attention and even the limitations of fixture which may be having an impact on merchandising effectiveness.
  • Improved promotional execution
    In store visibility greatly enhanced by computer vision lets retailers and suppliers know whether the sales generating strategies that typically requires months of planning and alignment with marketing activities are being executed as intended on the sales floor.
  • Greater planogram compliance
    As with promotions, merchants and suppliers invest time and resources to design optimal category plans for specific trading areas, shopper traits and competitive sets. Computer vision and AI-enabled category management solutions ensure those efforts deliver the intended results and improved marketing effectiveness.
  • Improved labor productivity
    In-store visibility means store associates can work smarter and deploy their efforts against tasks that require immediate attention to move the needle in ways that enhance the store experience and satisfy shoppers.

This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it does offer a glimpse of the potential that awaits retailers who embrace computer vision and AI to address in-store blind spots. Remember, in the early days of POS data sharing when retailers and supplier began working from a single version of the truth, all sorts of new possibilities were revealed to grow sales and improve operations. Those who appreciated the technology shift and worked to leverage the source of newfound insights gained a competitive advantage.

A similar breakthrough moment is at hand as new sources of data from shelf integrated cameras will alter how retailers make all manner of decisions. It promises to be as big a competitive advantage as POS scanning was to the early adopters of that technology who found they gained a single version of the truth with their supplier partners. Digitized stores equipped with computer vision will offer a new version of the truth, except it will be from the perspective of the shopper, which is what matters the most.

Want to learn more? Connect with a solution consultant.

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