For those who might be unfamiliar or brand new to your company, what do you do?

We are fundamentally changing the way retailers and CPG manufacturers collaborate, with regard to assortment and space decisions, leveraging our HIVERY Curate solution. This solution, powered by the latest artificial intelligence and applied mathematics algorithms, simulates and predicts the financial outcome of space and assortment changes at a store level. This powerful simulation engine is packaged in an easy-to-use software interface, which enables category management professionals to rapidly simulate unlimited “what if” scenarios to guide their assortment and space recommendations to their retailer partners.

HIVERY is pioneering next-generation assortment strategy simulation & optimization technologies. These proprietary algorithms were co-developed and acquired from CSIRO’s Data61 organization – the digital specialist arm of Australia’s national science agency and a world leader in data science research and engineering. They are trusted advisers to government, business and academia.

In what ways do you feel your business focus has changed since COVID?

COVID has really reinforced the power and value of what HIVERY Curate offers. With a massive change in the way shoppers purchase, the quantities in which they purchase, and supply shortages, the need to optimize assortment and space has never been more important.

COVID has made it clear that retailers and CPG manufacturers cannot rely on traditional “demand signals” to plan assortment or category resets. Since the pandemic has distorted these demand signals, the need for better and more rapid retailer/CPG collaboration & effective decision making has become extremely important. For example, the “bullwhip effect” has created a “new normal”, with some retailers planning more frequent category resets to get products back on the shelf that were previously in short supply. Additionally, they are trying to determine how to effectively fill the space created by short supply in the short term to retain shoppers and maintain sales volume.

AI/machine learning models can effectively simulate different “demand signals” or strategy scenarios and do this rapidly. This allows both retailers and CPG manufacturers to see the impact on revenue & volume, thus making better informed decisions both upstream and downstream, based on current supply chain requirements.

How have the shifts to a more Omnichannel retail dynamic impacted the ask from your customers over the past 2 years? How have you responded?

Omnichannel retail is essentially an effort of coordinating and optimizing the customer experience across all possible shopper channels. The challenge comes down to understanding the demand signal across each channel, so you can forecast, plan and personalize assortment and inventory accordingly.

One major shift in purchase behavior, accelerated by COVID, has been the growth of online ordering for curbside pickup (or click & collect) and delivery to home. Our customers are running assortment scenarios, in collaboration with their retailer partners, to determine the optimal space required for both instore shopping and picking for curbside pickup orders. HIVERY’s Curate solution already considers the store level forecast for both in store and curbside pickup sales at an item level. This has enabled customers to simulate the financial outcome of space and assortment changes for their brands and the entire category, enabling a more strategic collaboration between manufacturer and retailer with regard to the optimal assortment and space mix in an omnichannel world.

As the omnichannel grows (i.e. eCommerce and direct-to-consumer), there is an opportunity for all categories to grow. For category management, it’s more critical than ever to measure shopper behavior and demand for each channel. AI-driven solutions make omnichannel and CatMan 3.0 work. With AI/machine learning, category management will evolve past the spreadsheet to adapt to dynamic purchase behavior shifts and run rapid demand scenario simulations to determine the impact of these shifts. Solutions like HIVERY Curate can do this. It can optimize for any scenario and generate the associated planograms for execution.

What current retail and consumer trends do you feel people should be paying particular attention to right now?

From a consumer and shopper trend point of view, the changing dynamics of omnichannel purchase behavior (in store, curbside pickup, and home delivery) will be top of mind for us all.

We recently asked this same question from an industry perspective, rather than from a customer trend point of view. We engaged IDC to offer their views. IDC is a premier global provider of market intelligence and advisory services for information technology. The study explored the growing trend in assortment merchandising solutions and discussed where the industry is headed, as well as offering essential guidance on how retailers and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies can get started today. In short, we see the industry going beyond artificial intelligence (AI) used for the automation of “tasks” to AI being used for “strategy augmentation and rapid decision making.” We believe that Next-Gen solutions will foster better and more strategic collaboration between CPG manufacturers and retailers. In fact, we think each planogram can, should and will soon take into account each store’s requirements based on actual shopper purchase behavior. The shift from macro-cluster assortment to more store specific assortment is being enabled by this new technology. You can download the related report here It’s a fascinating and simple read.

What kind of solutions will you be showcasing at the 2022 CMA|SIMA Conference?

We are pioneering next-generation assortment strategy simulation & optimization technologies and we are excited to demo HIVERY Curate and the results that it has driven for our customers and their retailer partners. This will include the impressive range of strategic questions that can be simulated & quantified, as well as the speed by which our clients can do this. More importantly, how simple and easy to use HIVERY Curate is for category management teams.

What are you most looking forward to as the CMA|SIMA Conference returns to an in-person format this year?

It’s been a while since we have all had the opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other at in-person events. We are very excited to see good friends, customers, business partners, and peers in person. We very much look forward to this year’s conference and the learning and collaboration opportunities that it will present for all of us.