As always, the Category Management Association (CMA) delivered a great and informative experience at its annual conference last week. This year’s conference focused on the importance of consumer data and insight, and how companies can bridge the traditional with digital to create new paths to success.

With that in mind, I’d like to share my top takeaways from the event:

  • Data alone is not enough. When it comes to understanding how to best meet your shoppers’ needs, gathering consumer data is just the first step. Knowing how to leverage that consumer data to optimize your assortments and ultimately deliver a better customer experience is what drives differentiation and bottom-line benefits. Data science is playing a greater role in enabling more profitable category management and merchandising decisions.
  • Delivering a unified commerce experience is paramount. When consumers choose to shop with you, whether online or in store, they want a unified commerce experience. To achieve this – profitably – requires an integrated approach across e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores.
  • The importance of retailer-supplier collaboration. Supplier data rendering and web-enabled capabilities are playing a greater role in the collaboration process. Suppliers who are able to work collaboratively with their retail partners are seeing growth in category sales. Additionally, retailers engaging in integrated business planning with their suppliers have an opportunity to use that collaboration to improve their online strategies.
  • Consumer knowledge is power. There is a lot to be gained by better understanding today’s mobile, connected consumer. These shoppers now expect instant access to everything from catalog/assortment and pricing to order, availability and delivery status. While it’s important to understand the behaviors of millennials, it’s just as important to understand the mobile, connected generation that follows them: Generation Z. By gaining greater insights into the shopping behaviors and preferences of these groups, companies can use those insights to deliver more personalized and localized assortments at the store level.

At the CMA conference, we also previewed some of the results from the JDA Voice of the Category Manager survey. These initial findings underscore the growing need for consumer data and insight in order to better serve the mobile, connected shopper’s needs:

  • The 1 shopper behavior that retailers and manufacturers lack insight into is path to purchase.
  • Nearly 70 percent of respondents feel they are behind on leveraging predictive analytics for improved pricing and merchandising.
  • Investment in customer-driven data science ranks highest when it comes to merchandising capabilities for retailers and manufacturers.
  • The 1 investment priority in the next five years is big data and predictive analytics.
  • Retailers and manufacturers plan to prioritize personalization strategies to better reach the modern shopper this year.

We will be sharing all the survey results later in June. In the meantime, learn how JDA is tackling this need through its partnership with dunnhumby to combine deep customer insights with actionable merchandising strategies and decisions.