MARSH GETS STORE-SPECIFIC IN MERCHANDISING

INDIANAPOLIS - Marsh Supermarkets here is realizing improved turns and better sales after adjusting planogram sizes to reflect store-specific sales trends, said Bill Loneman, senior vice president of merchandising.Over the past year, the retailer has reset all Center Store categories in about a dozen of its 68 Marsh-banner stores.It's getting these results by using category management software supplied

INDIANAPOLIS - Marsh Supermarkets here is realizing improved turns and better sales after adjusting planogram sizes to reflect store-specific sales trends, said Bill Loneman, senior vice president of merchandising.

Over the past year, the retailer has reset all Center Store categories in about a dozen of its 68 Marsh-banner stores.

It's getting these results by using category management software supplied by an unidentified direct-store-delivery vendor.

The retailer has categorized its stores as conventional or fresh, based on sales data. The software tells Marsh how a given store's sales by category compare to sales by stores in its group. Depending on the findings, Marsh adjusts planogram sizes up or down.

Loneman said shoppers have noticed and commented when more space is allocated to a category that's important to them.

"It does appear that when we index these stores, we are seeing improved turns," he said. "And we're getting positive customer comments."

The retailer takes into account external trends, too. To make sure stores are getting their fair share of sales in a given category, Marsh also considers the category's performance in the market when deciding whether to adjust space.

When such an analysis indicated Marsh's sales of shelf-stable juice weren't reflecting consumption trends, it tweaked promotions, prices and mix, putting a greater focus on kid-aimed drinks. Marsh's category share grew chainwide as a result of those changes, Loneman said. "We had the space available; we probably were just missing the growth category with the youth-oriented drinks," he said.

Loneman said the next step is to customize assortments at the item level, which would account for regional brand preferences. "We operate stores in Indiana and Ohio. There's an incredible difference in brands, just between those two states," he said. In lunch meat, for example, Ohio prefers Kahn's bologna, while Indiana is an Eckridge or Oscar Mayer state.

"We have to be efficient to be even more competitive with the mass [channel]," he said.