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05/24/2022

Retailers Are Thinking About – and Rethinking – Space-Planning Solutions

SymphonyRetail AI survey reveals priority of assortment optimization and other approaches
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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Grocers are increasingly focused on space planning during the supply chain crunch and other industry issues.

If location is everything in real estate, it’s also crucial within grocery properties. A new survey of North American retailers from Symphony RetailAI, which works with grocers including Publix Super Market, Hy-Vee, Albertsons Cos. and Smart & Final, reveals that space planning solutions are top of mind among 68% of retailers as they operate during a time of simultaneous pressures.

While retailers agree that space planning is a priority, given the current situation with supply chain backups, the rise of omnichannel buying and inflation-driven shopping, there are different mindsets on how to approach it. The survey, conducted by RSR Research for the AI firm, found that 72% of industry respondents believe that macro space planning is critical and 65% think that micro space matters are essential.

Those polled also shared their thoughts on the pace of change and current priorities. When asked about the urgency of replacing or updating assortment optimization systems, shelf space systems or planogram automation over the next year to year and a half, nearly 40% said that assortment optimization is the most acute area in need.

As retailers use different approaches and capabilities to move forward with planning during still-volatile times, there is a general embrace of technology to get there. According to this survey, 31% of respondents said they are interested in using cloud-based solutions for store clustering and planogram automation.

“A great grocery reset is underway worldwide. Volatile marketplace conditions, shifting consumer demand, e-commerce growth and new regulations have increased the complexity of the grocery industry. This new era is causing grocers to rethink fundamental retail processes such as assortment and space planning,” said Brian Kilcourse, managing partner at Miami-based RSR Research.

Added Cheryl Sullivan, general manager and chief product officer for Symphony RetailAI: “The grocery industry has never been more complex, and the stakes are high to get category planning processes right to keep pace with change, grow sales and margins and outpace the competition. Retailers need AI-based macro space, micro space and assortment planning capabilities to enable the agility and insight they need to stay current with shopper preferences while balancing competitive and financial target priorities to drive both increased customer satisfaction and profitable revenue growth.”

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