Assortment Planning During Covid-19

Assortment Planning During Covid-19 150 150 Scorpion Planogram

Retail spending is up, as reported by the Guardian, and rose 12 percent in May over the previous month. While this would appear to signal that retailers as a whole are doing well, Larry Elliott, the Guardian’s economics editor, points to a small but important distinction. Retail spending denotes the purchase of goods, either in person or online, and makes up a third of consumer spending, a larger category that includes services, such as hospitality. Some experts speculate shoppers may be foregoing services and focusing on products, such as investing in weights with money saved from a cancelled gym membership. 

What signal is the latest data sending?

Why do we bring this up? As we see it, a bump in the retail market suggests a number of things:

  • While there is less money circulating, shoppers have not sealed off their wallets
  • Consumer preferences have shifted towards a buying experience with limited in-person contact, which was to be expected

On June 15, a greater share of non-essential brick-and-mortar stores were permitted to reopen. Opening, however, doesn’t guarantee success, and a survey of retailers indicates they are concerned about waning customer demands, according to the Guardian.

Store owners are entering a challenging retail environment, but they can contribute to their success by appealing to these cautious consumers. Even at a time when more non-essential stores are re-opening, we at Scorpion have seen a handful of stores provide a unique take on window shopping as a response to social distancing-related concerns. Using an assortment planning, retailers can fine-tune their displays to generate business.

What is Assortment Planning?

Readers of this blog may recognize assortment planning by its counterpart: visual merchandising. Both pertain to what we might call the “life cycle” of a store’s items – beginning with inventory and ending at the product display – and are data-driven processes to boost profits.

Say a clothing store manager needs to restock their shop. They can use sales data to identify which items perform the best. On top of that, they take into consideration other factors, such as season and market trends to inform their purchasing. Done this way, they create the greatest opportunity to move products, versus letting them gather dust in an inventory closet.

Product displays are another side of assortment planning. At this stage, the process leans heavily on the visual factors that drive sales, a topic we have covered at length on this blog. Of course, this strategy implies customers are present in the shop when the purchase takes place. But what if that wasn’t the case?

Window Shopping and Curbside Pickup

While creative window displays aren’t new, Covid-19 is and it requires innovative retail solutions. When we say “enhanced” window shopping, we’re pointing to stores that are closed to the public and have relocated the experience of browsing for a product to their store windows. 

On one occasion, we visited a clothing shop that required customers to call a store representative to place an order or order online. The worker would fetch the gartments, and bring them to the window, where shoppers could choose the article they wanted. Transactions were also done over the phone or the web. When complete, the employee would handoff the item through the door.  

We have also seen a children’s toy store that created an elaborate window display with products in numbered cubbies, which made it easier for shoppers to place orders for toys over the phone or online. We like this retail solution, because it capitalizes on foot traffic without requiring buyers to enter the store. 

Assortment Planning and Product Displays

Just like an in-store product kiosk, a window display is the perfect opportunity to apply assortment planning and boost sales. We strongly recommend using a planogram software to enhance and guide this process. When choosing which products to display, use data to identify items to focus on. Scorpion Planogram tracks category insights, which indicate:

  • Gaps in your assortment and point to opportunities to meet customer demand
  • “Hotspot analysis,” or a visualization of your best-selling products

Now comes the fun part. Organizing a product display is equal parts art and science, and you’re going to want to test different layouts. Scorpion Planogram allows you to quickly and efficiently design two- and three-dimensional visualizations of a display. Draft and redraft a design until it strikes the right balance. Save the design for later or print it out in a variety of formats to help guide your employees. Creating a great, enhanced window display is that easy.

Buy Scorpion Planogram 

Covid-19 has burdened retailers with innumerable challenges. Give yourself and your team the tools to succeed with Scorpion Planogram, which helps managers reduce time and resources when dialing in the right product displays. Give us a call to schedule a live demo.