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    Ones to Watch

    Given time, these concepts ought to bear significant fruit for retailers.

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ

    With each year?s crop of Category Captains entries, we typically receive a few that don?t quite fit a specific category, are about early-stage programs that haven?t yet shown significant payoff, lacked certain specifics or otherwise didn?t quite meet our award criteria ? yet they do show promise, and we feel they deserve some attention.

    Here are a couple of those entries, and we?ll be watching for further development as they gain a foothold in the coming year:

    ConAgra?s Frozen Accelerator

    ConAgra Foods and Kantar Retail have collaborated on a web-based tool to help retailers optimize their frozen food portfolios while predicting the dollar sales impact as a result of those changes. Its cross-category focus made it hard to classify within PG?s category designations, and we would have liked to see testimony from specific retailers.

    The Frozen Accelerator analyzes merchandising, assortment and shelving performance, and then suggests an effective plan for both frozen food brands and retailers. In developing the tool, ConAgra and Kantar analyzed three years of data in the frozen food department to determine the traits of top-performing retailers. These principles were further broken down across single-serve meals, multiserve meals and frozen desserts. The research aided companies in identifying best-in-class principles, among them the timing and frequency of merchandising, the proper product assortment, and how products should be displayed on shelves.

    With these principles incorporated into the Frozen Accelerator, the tool can review account performances, help develop a plan, and determine how it supported customers? needs and built sales overall in the category. As ConAgra explains, the Frozen Accelerator is all about ?getting back to basics? and focusing on perfect execution of MAPS principles.

    From the underperformance of single-serve and multiserve meals, and frozen baked desserts (which collectively account for 16 percent of frozen sales), Kantar identified eight to 11 merchandising, assortment and shelving principles per category. According to ConAgra, retailers following these principles see significantly better velocity, growth and buyer conversion.

    ?As retailers continue to be exposed to both the principles and the web-based tool, we want to see the poorer-performing retailers see sales trends more aligned with best-in-class results,? ConAgra notes. ?As we move forward, we look forward to seeing more and more wins as the merchandising, assortment and shelving principles are put into place, ensuring growth in these important categories.?

    ZoomSystems? RazorZone

    This pilot system is a novel approach in a category prone to shrink, and we?re interested in seeing more long-term results, and comparisons with retailers not using the system.

    ZoomSystems? RazorZone is an automated solution created to help stores minimize consumer and internal shrink while increasing razor sales and improving the customer experience. The machines provide an efficient use of space, the ability to educate and market to consumers, and improved out-of-stock rates and labor efficiency.

    Retailers have struggled to find an effective solution for reducing razor shrink without jeopardizing sales. RazorZone aims to beat this paradigm by providing increased sales and decreased shrink while offering marketing opportunities for brands and more efficient product management for retailers. RazorZone says its unique technology essentially eliminates shrink, because the product can?t leave the store unless it?s been paid for. As such, RazorZone has introduced a checkpoint into the supply chain that has never before existed.

    RazorZone gives the customer immediate service without the need to wait for a store associate to unlock product. With its inventory-tracking function, there are fewer out-of-stocks, allowing for more sales. The solution offers a wide range of opportunities to influence the customer purchasing decision, including trade-in, trade-up and trade-across; product information and comparisons; product promotions; the ability to accept and dispense coupons; and the ability to show the value of product upgrades. Additionally, RazorZone provides brands with added marketing value, offering in-aisle digital signage at the point of purchase, including a full-motion video on an attract loop.

    According to ZoomSystems, RazorZone?s pilot locations saved hundreds of dollars a month by eliminating shrink, the average sales price in the category increased by double digits, and sales more than doubled.

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    • About Jim Dudlicek As editor-in-chief of Progressive Grocer, Jim Dudlicek oversees daily operations of the magazine, spearheads its signature features, produces PG’s monthly Trend Alert newsletter on center store issues, moderates its regular webcast series, and writes and comments about a wide range of grocery issues. A food industry journalist since 2002, Jim came to PG in June 2010 after covering the dairy industry for 7½ years, during which time he served as chief editor of Dairy Field and Dairy Foods magazines. A graduate of Marquette University, Jim is fascinated by how truly progressive grocers inspire consumers to enjoy food, transforming the industry from mere merchants into educators that can take the most basic of all necessities and turn it into something profound and life-enhancing.

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