The Importance of Optimizing Your Product Assortment with Data
Successful retailers rely on market trends to understand what the current landscape looks like and where it’s heading—even in the middle of a volatile year. In fact, the unpredictable nature of the last 12 months illustrated the importance of having a close eye on your shoppers’ behavior and optimizing your product assortment using data.
Customers guide the direction of the market, and that’s going to especially true in the coming months as cities open up and everyone settles into their daily lives—which won’t look exactly like they did pre-COVID.
“Shopper needs are always evolving, always changing,” says Monica Maldonado, Retail Director for SPINS. “For retailers, being informed on those trends and what’s happening in the world and, most importantly, staying ahead of the trends is how they can stay relevant with their shoppers.”
Regardless of whether workers return to the office 5 days a week or they stick with remote work, they won’t abandon the health and wellness habits they developed over the last year. That’s where informed assortment planning will help prepare for the wellness wave in retail.
Expert Lens: Best Practices for Product Assortment Using Data
Why Product Assortment Needs to Meet Today’s Expectations
Shoppers are always developing new habits and testing out the latest brands, but COVID has added an extra element of uncertainty into the mix. Retailers care about longevity and being positioned for future success, and the best way to get there is to provide a product assortment that meets your shoppers’ needs right now.
“[Shoppers] are hearing a lot about new products right now with COVID,” says Maldonado. The right product assortment in your store offers those items that they’re curious about—and it goes beyond that. “[A good product assortment] also gives shoppers the opportunity to discover products that they didn’t know about—and now fit their lifestyle or their diet or whatever they’re trying to do with their health and wellness goals.”
Your products depend on your store: natural vs conventional, plant-based versus animal-derived, grab-and-go meals vs shelf staples, and so on. The demand you’ll see from customers comes from their specific needs. As shoppers integrate new products into their routine, they establish gain brand loyalty and by extension, they grow to view your store as their trusted provider today and in the future.
“At some point, those products we are buying right now, and those trends, become staples.”
How Retailers Are Finding Innovation in Assortment Planning
Retailers are excited to spot these trends, in no small part because we’re still in the midst of a world without the usual gamut of trade shows. Without these expos, finding innovation has been difficult over the last year and will continue to be a challenge until events and travel return to normal throughout the country.
The SPINS team works closely with retailers to ensure they’re getting the data and insights they need to catch those emerging trends and establish themselves as a destination for today’s (and tomorrow’s) hottest items.
By looking at category performance and popular and unpopular attributes, retailers and SPINS can analyze what is happening with shoppers across the market and within their own stores.
It’s not just about looking at the data; it’s about understanding what customers are telling you. If, for example, vitamins and supplements continue to sell as well as they have been over the last year, then you might look at beverages and snacks with immunity-focused functional ingredients. Your shoppers might still be concerned about maintaining a strong immune system to stay healthy and out of the doctor’s office. Getting the right product assortment works best when good data meets helpful insights.
Discover how SPINS can help you configure the right product assortment that will show your customers you know what emerging trends and innovative products they care about.