Canadian supermarket chain Sobeys transitions to customer-led planning over category-led planning, with marketing, merchandising teams devising 'holistic solutions' that are applied to customers

LOS ANGELES , February 5, 2012 () – Canadian supermarket chain Sobeys switches to “customer-led planning” from “category-led planning,” according to the company’s senior VP and chief information officer Clinton Keay, Supermarket News reported Jan. 30.

“The customer [has gone from] being an afterthought to being right up front,” Keay told an audience this month at the National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention & Expo. “Our marketing and merchandising teams, and our category managers and store operations needed to come together so they were acting as one to the consumer.”

Marketing and merchandising teams devise “holistic solutions” that are applied to customers, then measured to determine what worked based on customer feedback.

The shift in priorities has required coordination between marketing and merchandising teams as well as category managers and store operations. In order to achieve fluidity between marketing and merchandising teams, marketers received analytics training, Keay said.

Data consolidation has also figured into the company’s consumer-based planning strategy. As recently as 10 years ago, the company used 2,500 databases and 65 POS systems. Keays said Sobeys has integrated multiple databases in order to relay information in real-time to merchandisers and other users.

The primary source of this article is Supermarket News, New York, New York, Jan. 30, 2011.

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