Coronavirus (COVID-19): managing your range during the pandemic

Simon Attfield
People Solutions Manager

Date : 22 April 2020

Although stock piling has provided recent challenges for stores, the on-going effects of the pandemic will cause further issues for retailers and the supply chain in the foreseeable future. As we exit the panic buying stage and production becomes less stretched, it is time to start to optimise our ranges for short to medium term realities.

There will be ongoing risks for the supply chain and rationalising ranges is a keyway of improving efficiency. Focus needs to be on our ranges that drive the largest sales and have the deepest shopper penetration.

However, there are five other things you may want to consider in prioritising your range:

1. Question the balance and focus of premium ranges in your portfolio

With isolation in place and the impact it is having on many industries there are an increasing number of households focused on saving money. With this only likely to grow, this should be reflected in your range, with every day and value items set to become more important.

That said many shoppers will continue to be looking for quality so there will still be a need for a premium offering.

Source: IGD ShopperVista 12 to 18 April 2020

2. Can you efficiently cover your shoppers’ needs?

Despite several years of retailers rationalising category ranges, they will continue to simplify their offering to support store operations at this time. A closer look needs to be taken on delivering discrete shopper needs in the category; ranges need to be challenged where there are multiple lines delivering the same need.

Many brands have many different products and pack sizes. Are they all needed? Or are their products that are versatile and can meet many needs. For example, a middle-sized pack might be able to meet the needs of small and large households and, therefore, could be your core line.

Source: IGD Research

3. Where are your strengths in the category?

In the category context, where does your range have the leading products for different shoppers’ needs. Products that have a unique proposition compared to competitor ranges should be part of your core range. Ensure your retail partners understand the need for these products’ individual strengths.

4. Consider care for colleagues and shoppers

Every time a product is handled there is a chance of transferring the virus, as well as shoppers being told to not handle the products before choosing, shelf ready packaging (SRP) can minimize products being handled by store colleagues. Stress test your SRP, is it easy to identify when in a cage, is it easy for shoppers to pick products out of the tray and does it easily fit on shelves? Prioritise products that are in efficient SRP, for those that are not can you change to SRP and how quickly can you do it?

5. What are the milestones to normality?

There will be many phases of the pandemic for retailers and shoppers. Range requirements, therefore, will change over time and be driven by whatever the current challenges are. Do you know what and when the different milestones are and how they will impact on shoppers’ and retailers’ needs? It is important you keep close to the needs of the retailer today and in the next phase. Share your latest insight on shopping behavior and patterns you expect to see throughout the pandemic.

Proactively managing your range offering should ensure ongoing availability on your core lines; it should help lock in shopper loyalty and you may even pick up a few more loyal shoppers as they have limited choice.

The uncertainty and uniqueness of the current climate requires businesses to make big decisions; understanding the potential impact of different scenarios can help to identify the critical decisions for your business.

If you are looking to understand the impact of different scenarios during this period, our Solutions team can help you build strong scenario plans with the support of our experts via remote facilitation sessions.

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