Category manager: why retailers need to hire such a specialist Juli December 12, 2022

Category manager: why retailers need to hire such a specialist

category manager

What a category manager does: tasks of a specialist

A category manager manages a company’s product assortment. This position is in high demand for retailers who need to account for a large number of products. The specialist helps to structure the functions of various products.

For the first time, the need for a category manager arose in international corporations whose structure includes various brands. We are talking about such giants as Mars, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever. Gradually their experience was adopted by other companies – both large retailers and small distributors.

Initially, a category manager position was used in the sales of goods for everyday use. However, after a while, it became evident that the skills of this specialist are in demand in the technical sphere, medicine, cosmetics market, and others. And it should be noted that each of the segments has its own specifics, which should be taken into account when working.

The post has also reached the fashion industry. Here, the manager’s responsibilities include not only structuring the assortment but also studying existing trends and adapting goods to the market. The specialist must be able to analyze the assortment matrix in order to identify weak positions and those that have a high potential for the company. In this way, it is possible to exclude the release of unclaimed goods and concentrate on the popular ones. 

peculiarity of the position of a category manager

In addition to this, a category manager is engaged in:

  • working with suppliers, looking for them, negotiating;
  • document management and contracting;
  • pricing processes, monitoring of purchases;
  • analyzing trends and new products of the season.

Despite the long list of tasks, the manager does not have to dive into every one of them. He works in conjunction with the other specialists, each of whom is responsible for a certain direction. At the same time, an important skill for a category manager himself should be the ability to draw up an assortment matrix and track changes in the market and in consumer preferences in time. The business expects that the manager will help to react to changes in time, in order to adjust the assortment range to them, thereby remaining competitive. As for the personal characteristics that a manager should have, multitasking and stress tolerance should be highlighted here. In addition, such a specialist needs to interact with a large number of different people, which means he must have developed communication skills.

As for a company that plans to introduce the position of a category manager, in this case, it is necessary to initially understand what tasks this person will solve. Often the specialist has to take on almost all the responsibilities of the purchasing department or, on the contrary, he shifts them to other departments. The manager must be able to think creatively, to approach purchases and sourcing in terms of knowledge of trends. And the purchasing department, meanwhile, takes over all the technical processes.