Unilever UK Foods Ltd reportedly has doubled category sales as a result of using JDA Portfolio Planning and Forecasting solutions for category management. The division of $38 billion Unilever PLC, one of the world's leading suppliers of fast moving consumer goods, achieved these results in a trial involving the popular pot snacks category, including its market leading Pot Noodle brand. According to the company, Unilever UK Foods relied on JDA's integrated Space Planning by Intactix and Planogram Converter by Intactix software to make it easier and quicker for customers to locate products on the store shelf while ensuring maximum profitability for its retail partners.
Commenting on its initial success, Nick Widdowson, merchandising manager at Unilever UK Foods stated: "In the past, we've witnessed such problems as products like Pot Noodles being placed adjacent to nappies and baby products, or best-sellers hidden away at the back of the store. In our recent trial with the pot snacks category, we've proven that by using JDA's category management applications, we can help our retail partners to eliminate some of these problems. Now we can collaborate to ensure that space is granted to those products that merit it, and that products are placed in locations that are easy for customers to find."
"The result of our initial trial speaks for itself," remarked Widdowson. "We 've doubled sales in the pot snack category."
Strengthening the bridge between retailers and suppliers
In conjunction with the JDA software applications, Unilever UK Foods uses its own market research data along with its retail partners' sales data to advise approximately 40,000 stores on which best sellers should be stocked and where they should be positioned for maximum value.
"Retailers are increasingly looking to their manufacturing partners for quick answers on how to stock shelves for maximum profitability, while improving the shopping experience for their customers," explained Widdowson.
"With JDA's space management solutions, we are able to use advanced category management technology to create a bridge between supplier and retailer, allowing valuable insight into each other's business. Now shelves are carefully planned in-line with a particular retailer's sales goals or customer profile."
Continued Widdowson, "We use JDA's space planning tools to produce detailed planograms, and analyse them to see how arranging products on the shelf will work best for any given store. The technology also enables us to measure store plan efficiency in accordance with various demand and supply chain scenarios, so that over- or under-stocking is reduced."
Space planning leads to more efficient and profitable product packaging
Widdowson reported that using JDA solutions to work more closely with a wide variety of retailers has provided unexpected, added benefits. For example, Unilever UK Foods is now using Space Planning application to review the retailer's rate of sale, which enables them to develop case size recommendations for new and existing products that meet demand more efficiently. Additionally, Unilever UK is developing shelf-ready packaging to minimise the space required to stock a full range of product and to speed up the shelf stacking process.
"Every retailer maintains different shelf sizes and it is important for category captains like ourselves to know this in order to get the case sizes right," explained Widdowson. "It's very costly to move or change fixtures in a store, so changing packaging to suit market demand can make a huge difference to everyone."