Why agile merchandising wins over twice-a-year category resets

Keep up with shoppers changing expectations and avoid “big bang” costly resets by adopting an agile merchandising approach that allows you to continuously refine categories and drive growth. Hear from Antoine Pointillart, Solutions Consulting Director, Symphony RetailAI as he explains how an agile merchandising approach works to Mike Troy, Editor-in-Chief at Retail Leader.

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    MT: Hello, I’m Mike Troy, Editor of Retail Leader. I’m here in Irving, Texas at Symphony RetailAI’s annual user conference called Xcelerate. I’m joined by Antoine Pointillart.

    MT: And we’re talking about agile merchandising.

    AP: Absolutely.

    MT: What does that mean? What is agile merchandising?

    AP: So agile merchandising, the idea is to change the way CPGs and retailers work, to go from one or two resets a year, to more frequent work on merchandising, to more frequent resets to get all the opportunities that lay out there and that because of manpower, CPGs and retailers are not able to grab today. So the idea is to bring them the tool that will help them to go and bring this potential gold that they are missing today.

    MT: So if you go from two to how many and does it vary by like category, like…

    AP: Yeah, it would vary by category.

    MT: …some categories probably don’t need to be reset?

    AP: If you already go from two to four, there’s a huge potential. We’re talking about millions here that you could grab from each category. So it could be as frequent as once a month, but that might be a bit too much. Let’s say four or five a year would already be of huge benefit.

    MT: How’s it work as far as like integrating suppliers into it, because typically you know, the retailer does the reset, suppliers come in with new items? Sometimes you don’t really need to reset more than twice a year.

    AP: So the way it works is it is really, when we say agile, it is really smoothing the way, and it grabs the new items and that’s very a good question because you could bring in from an Excel spreadsheet, you know, two or three new items that the CPG brought to you and you could interpret this immediately, seamlessly into the tool, that would generate you an assortment recommendation for those new items. It will integrate them where they need to be integrated and will make the assortment, change and modification for you, and will generate the planograms out of it for you automatically, relying on AI and using CINDE as well in the mix.

    MT: You mentioned CINDE. Just explain for people, what the acronym means, and I know it’s the voice.

    AP: Conversational Insights and Decision Engine.

    MT: Okay.

    AP: That’s what it stands for. So that’s all powerful data with engine that is your personal, let me say the word…

    MT: Personal…

    AP: Your personal coach…

    MT: Okay.

    AP: …that helps you into digging into the data and finding for you where these opportunities, these nuggets are. Well, you might have taken days or weeks to identify, we’ll identify them in minutes for you.

    MT: In minutes. Because I’m just…

    AP: Drilling through millions and millions of data.

    MT: …asking…I’m just asking CINDE a question and…

    AP: Yeah, CINDE works in a way that you ask CINDE questions, how is my frozen pizza going? And it’s going to tell you that you have an issue with some of the frozen pizza. It is in this department, in this area, and so you will go and find mistakes or the format of the stores that you have an issue with. We’ll tell you that’s the issue and that’s an issue with assortment. Already, it will help you, putting you on the way to finding solutions.

    MT: What sort of feedback are you getting from retailers that are here when you start talking about agile merchandising?

    AP: Very good feedback. They are very excited about this, because once again, today they don’t have the manpower to do this. So they struggle into one or two resets and they know they are missing the opportunities, they just don’t have the manpower and the tools to do this.

    MT: Is the manpower issue also partly in the store though, because you have to have the bodies in the store to do the resets? It’s one thing to do the reset on a screen, but you still have to execute it in store.

    AP: Absolutely, but the way it is today, is they already do that somehow manually. They visit a store, they get, you know, some small arrangements, it’s not well structured and well thought, because once again, they might push some of your items, but they don’t know which item they should replace those new items with, and that solution gives you the best item that should be replaced.

    MT: Okay. I can ask CINDE, it’s like, hey, what item should I replace?

    AP: Yeah.That could be a good one.

    MT: Alright, cool. Alright, thanks Antoine.

    AP: Thank you very much.