Survey: Grocers shift planning priorities in face of COVID-19

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Survey: Grocers shift planning priorities in face of COVID-19

By Dan Berthiaume - 02/09/2021

Almost all grocery retailers now share the same top priority in their category planning and assortment optimization strategies.

According to the new Category Planning & Assortment Optimization Executive Survey from Symphony RetailAI and Incisiv, 95% of surveyed grocery retailers cited inventory optimization as their top priority as they enter a new fiscal year. In addition, 95% of respondents claimed improving on-shelf availability and reducing out-of-stocks as top priorities. In the 2020 version of the survey, the top priority, as indicated by 67% of respondents, was assortment optimization to meet consumer demand. 

According to Incisiv analysis, this shift indicates that near-term operational challenges will again give way to assortment optimization, especially as countries emerge from the pandemic and consumer preferences change faster and more dynamically than before.

Category management and assortment objectives also include physical transformations to the retail store. The survey found that the majority of respondents (77%) are looking to dedicate more store space to support curbside pickup and click-and-collect services. 

When asked to rate the performance of their category management technologies, eight in 10 (79%) respondents said their current solutions were either average or poor. Furthermore, 58% said they have no integration, or only partial integration, of their category management systems, and 78% said they use either basic analytics in category management processes or no analytics at all.

The survey also examined respondents’ forward-looking plans, finding 55% are planning to integrate category planning and supply chain data in the next 12 to 24 months. Eighty-one percent said accurate, timely data is critical to improving category planning and merchandising decisions.

“Grocers with greater analytics maturity and deeper integration lead the industry in terms of performance – these players see twice the basket size of less mature grocers, and 2.6 times share of wallet,” said Gaurav Pant, chief insights officer, Incisiv.