Nowadays, in the age of strong competition when creating a “blue oceans” in the area of retail is nearly impossible, we start to scratch the surface for the last science crumbs. Endless “improvements”, “optimisations”, “reviews” and “assessments” began to morph from daily routine of simple good management into a Saint science revealed only to the blessed one. The more science you farm from your tiny piece of responsible land the more chances you have for perspectives of any kind. It becomes nearly a standard behaviour to play an egghead instead of solving a vital daily tasks. Today we spot our focus on the huge area of so-called knowledges in the area of “category management”. This young science is more-less similar to books management at your private house or something like cable management under your dusty computer desk. If you succeeded in hiding all your cables and wires under the table you can call yourself a Cable Management Bachelor first degree. Same for the books at your cabinet. Having assorted all your books by color, size, author or date of publish you can pinch 5 stars on your shoulders and call yourself a Book Management Master first class. Some may call you a snoopy guy made a simple weekly cleaning in you room, but you know you are not. You are born for a stellar management tasks. Here is the truth of the point. How to distinguish daily functionality from the science approach? First of all don’t ask your consultants (joke). If you have these guys in the boat you get it bloat. We have to investigate it by ourselves as smoky miners.

To start it simple — if you have to do a simple routine as a Buyer and sort all your goods by sales, margin or losses in a simple excel chart that is definitely not a science. If you have not only to sort them back and forth but also make some decisions on that, you are still quite far from  being Einstein. Oh, but your boss can propose you to make a Power Point Presentation out that fuss, grab it, climb on the stage and show it on the big screen at the front of office audience. May be at that stage it becomes a more “science-ish”? Unfortunately not. Even if they call you a Category Manager that does not mean you drifted far from an Excel Manager.

To make it more clear we have prepared a well-known list of daily activities surely defined as standard functional of Procurement manager and having nothing in common with so-called Category Management:

— Defining price ranges of goods

— Correct fulfilment of price ranges with goods array

— Assigning goods on the shelves according to color, size, price, brands, types…

— Watching margin across suppliers, product groups, categories…

— To be responsible for targets like sales, income, losses, …

— Deciding on listing and delisting

— Planning promotions

— Deciding on buying price increases and decreases

— Making shelf layout schemes with Operation dep. (mainly their part)

— To be responsible for overall customer perception of your category

— To punish suppliers for bad delivery rates

Now is the main secret — all above is not a science — it is your DAILY JOB as a procurement manager (or Buyer). If some people propose you to make a big show out of your daily job with presentations and charts, just kick them out of your office and remember that they are time-eaters making their own medals and salaries out of your daily assets. The bigger they blow this science bubble out of your basic functional the more burdens you will get as a “good projects to do”. They will get medals and promotions, you will get time-bashing.

The history of Category Management invention as near-to-science subject took place somewhere between 2005 — 2008 years and emerged from the same bunch of concepts about overall responsibility before his majesty the Customer. Nice to pronounce but hard to insert into functionality spread among a company. This constant play with words leads to organisational disorientation when people start to prey for nice words like “Customer”, “Loyalty”, “Lets help each other” and “Low prices, uhhh… Mufassa…” As an example of such destruction remember the failure trials with inventing a “new title” like Offer Manager instead of Purchasing Director. Or Buyer plus Category manager as twin brothers instead of one fully responsible Procurement Manager. This kind of stuff smells the same like multi-culturalism, omni-gender and tolerance in all its personality devastating glory. A mind Frankensteins leading to consciousness dissolve. On a corporate apply it leads to the same functional bi-polarity and out-of-focus diseases.

As soon as we start to sort these things out to be ordinary we have a chance to go forward. Do not allow anybody to shift your personal system of coordinates, otherwise you have a risk to find yourself “omni-gender” with all accompanying consequences. Unfortunately this process went too far from mind-management into corporate management. Do not allow to create complex things from simple daily tasks and you will save a lot of neural cells.

We have a lot of examples where basic functions are morphed into a bloated science: procurement into category management, advertising into marketing, sales management into operational management, logistics into supply chain science, data analysis into customer loyalty management, etc. Probably this is not the end. Soon, we are supposed to see Cashier as Money Depositary Manager, Security guy as Loss Prevention Manager class one, Legal Manager as Risk Prevention super-duper master of first degree. Kind of funny but already spreading their feet over the globe. All it looks like a child-game in making a custom title by random chance. Overall de-professionalism makes it’s pace across the world.


top-retail@involved.com — keeping your eyes open