The most recent general merchandise exploits read like a mystery thriller. Sort of like “The Da Vinci Code” with a GM spin.
A squeezed GM sector in the food channel, accounting for more than $30B in annual sales, has been challenged by other types of retailers battling for market share.
Food retailers need a better way to track and measure industrywide performance to foster growth, because the existing system is outdated.
The question has been, how can a new code be unlocked?
Enter Nielsen, which it turns out had been keeping a repository of close to 30 million GM SKUs, but didn’t have a standard category hierarchy to interpret the data.
What followed was a partnership among Global Market Development Center (GMDC), Nielsen and Radian to build and test a new analytics tool to help boost GM category measurement and management.
That tool, which will provide category-level syndicated sales data, is now in the final stages of testing and preparation and will be released by GMDC in the first quarter of 2013. (Click here for more details.) 
This could be a watershed event for the GM sector. The tool will enable uniformity in how the industry looks at a wide range of GM categories, which historically were coded differently by various retailers, noted Mark Deuschle, GMDC’s chief marketing officer and vice president of business development.
The new direction provides a common hierarchy and will enable benchmarking, more collaborative relationships between trading partners, and more informed decisions about shelf space.
This will help bring more alignment between GM and Center Store in terms of standards of measurements.
Read more: GM Data Portal to Launch in Q1 
Most important, better analytics could produce more effective GM strategies for food retailers.
It’s extremely rare to have this kind of new opportunity in a long-established segment of the business. The payoff, however, won’t happen unless the tool is taken seriously.
Supermarkets and their trading partners need to become familiar with this new initiative by giving it a complete examination to learn the benefits.
Otherwise, the biggest mystery will be why the industry didn’t try to capitalize on the opportunity.
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