Developing a category plan can seem like an overwhelming process at first. Having comprehensive category planning is essential to success in retail. Whether you’re a retailer or a supplier, only a well-thought-out category plan will give you a goal to focus on and a means to get there. However, the stakes are so big, the process of producing an efficient plan can seem unwieldy. That’s why the best way to start is by considering all the factors that are essential in producing a working category plan.

Understanding Definitions and Roles

How you define your categories builds the basis for the products you’re looking to sell. You won’t be able to get a handle on the different types of products you carry—and how they’ll be arranged and presented to your customers—unless you have accurate and clearly defined definitions. Meanwhile, the roles will determine the breadth of the kinds of products you’ll be carrying for each category. For suppliers, the challenge is the same, only your main consideration is the interests of your retailers.

Gather the Most Up-To-Date Data

It goes without saying that data to any retailer or supplier is of the utmost importance. In category plan management, the most relevant data to consider pertains to your market, consumers, and categories. How are your categories performing compared to stores in other markets? Following the relevant data closely also will help you keep track of current trends, so you’ll be ahead of the curve as your industry develops.


All the planning in the world won’t mean much unless you’re able to put that plan into effect. After you’ve identified the appropriate categories and done the necessary research to make sure your data is current and accurate, you’ll need to initiate strategic and tactical planning to turn your analysis into action. You’ll also have to consider the costs associated with moving forward. Utilizing apps designed for such purposes is an excellent way to bring all these considerations together so you can more quickly bring goods to market. TradeBeyond has created such an app which has proven to be incredibly beneficial to retailers and suppliers alike.


Whether you’re on the retail or supply side of your industry, you are only going to be as successful as those you’re in business with. An effective category plan is not only beneficial to the retailer or supplier who’s initiating it, but it also can be tremendously helpful in building a stronger relationship between the two parties. Rely on the category plan to determine which products to emphasize and how to organize them on shelves. Suppliers will have a better understanding of resource allocation and will have information unavailable to retailers. Conversely, retailers can observe on-site how products are selling, and how the current category plan augments or detracts from sales.

There really is no way to succeed in retail or retail supply without a working category plan. Category planning lays the necessary groundwork for your company to succeed, so it’s essential you start early and hit the ground running. For information on how TradeBeyond’s sourcing app can help your business create a working category plan, contact us today!

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