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Collaboration, Training Key for Category Managers

Today’s category managers could benefit from more training, a better understanding of the company’s financial goals and access to tools that help them make better use of data, according to panelists on an SN webinar this week.

"I think investing in teams and training for category managers is essential,” said Jim Smits, former senior vice president, consumables, at Dollar General.

He said category managers tend to be more stretched than ever before because they are often managing more categories, and aren’t getting out to see the stores as much as they used to.

“I think both on the technical side and on the store side, they need more training,” Smits said, noting that many web-based training programs are available that could help category managers.

He also said category managers need to take more risks and try new things, which is something that used to happen more often.

“I think it can be done by bringing on solutions that deliver predictive analysis,” Smits said.

John Clutts, a partner at The Partnering Group, said internal collaboration between different divisions within the organization is also important. There is often “mis-alignment” between financial goals and merchandising solutions, he noted.

Organizations "need to understand how category managers understand the financial scorecard,” he said.

Jim Kelly, chief executive officer, Market6, the data analytics provider that sponsored the webinar, noted that today’s model of of simply sharing raw data among trading partners “simply doesn’t work.”

“Think about collaboration shifting from basic data sharing to collaborative planning and forecasting,” he said.

The webinar will soon be archived here on SN's website.

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