Managing SKU Rationalization of Healthy Products
By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
While product shortages were common during the height of the pandemic last year, we’re seeing a continued reduction in product range. Today’s grocery stores have 80 percent more products than 30 years ago; while shoppers may appreciate having more choice, they also value the ability to quickly find the products they want, which is difficult when so many choices appear on the shelves. This product proliferation which has occurred over time is actually a disadvantage for retailers. Simplifying the product assortment can scale efficiencies and save costs savings for the retailer. Everything from managing inventory to stocking shelves to the procurement process is easier and less expensive with fewer products.
While SKU rationalization has many benefits for your retailers, you may see some of the healthier products you typically recommend to shoppers and clients disappear from the shelf. Follow these tips to manage this situation at your retailer:
- Understand that niche products can drive loyalty. Cutting assortment to the top sellers runs the risk of being viewed as a “commodity” seller, and retailers have to carry unique items to maintain customer loyalty. Survey customers of your services, including questions on whether product recommendations by the RD increase their shopper loyalty. Use this data when communicating to buyers and merchants the value of healthier products that may not have big sales but have consistent loyal customers.
- Maintain open communications with suppliers. You understand the health needs of your shoppers best so ensure suppliers are aware of the key nutrition attributes and products you recommend. Understand from suppliers what products they may be eliminating in the upcoming months so you can revise materials you have to include substitutions for these products.
- Speaking of substitutions. . . when chicken gumbo soup disappeared off shelves, shoppers didn’t know what to use in its place in recipes. If key products or those shoppers rely on are being discontinued, create videos and live streams showing easy substitutions.
- Focus on products with versatility. Everyone loves a pantry staple that can be used in multiple ways. Find those nutrition products that can be used in many ways, creating easy visual tools for your shoppers. This positions them to SKU rationalize their pantry while still maintaining their healthy eating habits.