Back to Basics

Sales figures are such a huge part of how a category is measured, and yet sales give only one part of the story. What is often lacking is a real understanding of where the missed opportunities or the threats lie, and that is crucial for retailers and brands under pressure to grow sales at a time when price is no longer a clear differentiator.

To really understand the opportunities and threats for a category, we need to understand how the fixture itself works – whether instore or online. At Shoppercentric we believe there are some important basic metrics that have been overlooked in the focus on sales, which give more clarity to where growth can come from. And importantly, these metrics aren’t as widely available as sales data, so they lend themselves perfectly to a trade story that is truly tailored to your customers, rather than the same old data every trade team has shared with the buyer!

Firstly, we need to understand the role of the category. Is it a destination or a convenience category?

To understand this we need to explore the missions of shoppers at the fixture, and the degree to which this a planned vs impulse visit. We can also take a step back and look at the penetration of the category among store visitors overall, which gives a very clear measure of the potential that could be delivered by driving more traffic to the category.

Understanding these basic metrics can help identify where on the purchase journey your category or shopper marketing needs to impact. Whether it’s about driving traffic to the aisle, or to the fixture, or driving trading up or brand switching.

It could also help determine different opportunities by channel, which leads to more tailored solutions. For example, single serve soft drinks are typically a destination in convenience stores, which means there is limited need to drive more traffic to the fixture so shopper marketing should focus on trading up or increasing basket size. But in supermarkets the same fixture has a convenience role, so shopper marketing should help drive traffic to or into the aisle.

Secondly, how successful is the fixture in converting shoppers to buyers?

This is the big question that sales figures can’t answer in isolation – why are shoppers failing to turn into buyers? Were they just browsing, were they looking for inspiration, did they fail to find the particular product they wanted, or did they buy less than they planned? By capturing this level of detail among shoppers in-store / online we can identify how big an opportunity exists to increase sales and how that opportunity can be grasped.

Furthermore, when used in a relative context – so comparing one retailer vs another, or one store format vs another – it is possible to confidently prioritise the relationship or channel that offers the best opportunity.

To measure fixture success we need to consider a number of factors:

  • What % of shoppers convert to buyers?
  • What % of those shoppers planned to visit the fixture vs visited on impulse?
  • What was the dwell time? Bearing in mind dwell time is about quality not quantity
  • What was the level of interaction?
  • Is an engaging consumption category also delivering engagement in-store/online – if not, why not?

These are the key factors that drive category growth. Of course there are others that support growth strategies, such as emerging consumer/shopper needs, or retailer positionings. But all the blue sky thinking is wasted if the practicalities of how the fixture functions in-store/online are not understood.

Getting back to the basics of understanding the role of the category, and the success of the fixture can deliver rich insights that can build on the basic sales story, and take your trade discussions to a much more actionable level.

By Danielle Pinnington, MD at Shoppercentric (@Shoppercentric)