CMA White Papers

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E-Commerce Category Leadership

A New Approach to Retailer and Supplier Collaboration for

Digital and E-Commerce Growth

In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, e-commerce category leadership has become necessary to stay competitive and grow. That’s why e-commerce has become mission critical for consumer product retailers and suppliers. But most retailers and manufacturers are still far from optimizing e-commerce opportunities.

In response, the Category Management Association (CMA) agreed to sponsor the development of best practices and standards for e-commerce. The CMA along with The Partnering Group (TPG) invited leading suppliers and retailers to participate and formed the E-Commerce Category Leadership (ECL) Board.

Why the need for collaboration between suppliers and retailers?

  • The e-commerce challenge is immense and requires significant expertise and investment.
  • Their businesses are interdependent and rely and each other for success.
  • They share common goals and working together will be mutually beneficial.

Over the past year, the ECL Board met four times. Industry experts were interviewed and ECL tools from TPG were shared and leading practices discussed. TPG contributed approaches refined over 18 years of digital marketing and e-commerce. The findings were published in a report: E-Commerce Category Leadership – A New Approach to Retailer and Supplier Collaboration for Digital and E-Commerce Growth.


Report is available to the public (no member login required).

White Papers


“Cross Merchandising Online: Maximizing the Opportunity”

Cross merchandising brings together complementary products in one place for shoppers to consider. In the physical world of brick and mortar, retailers are limited by time, space and cost to create cross merchandising displays. But in the online world, the opportunity for cross merchandising or better described in the digital world as cross-selling is practically unlimited.

As online shopping and analytics keep evolving, the potential to boost sales via cross-selling is practically endless. By testing various combinations of product accessories and displaying in a multitude of ways, category managers can compare results to determine an optimal cross-selling strategy.

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“Cross Merchandising Can Help Boost Grocery Profits”

Why is cross merchandising so special? Unlike end-cap promotions that simply shift sales from one brand to the next or one day to another, cross merchandising increases basket size by enticing customers to buy additional items that were not on their shopping list. And generally, the cross merchandised items are sold at full retail price.

So why don’t grocers cross merchandise more? Creating new assortments is not simple and the displays require additional planning and execution time. For some grocers, it will require a whole new way of thinking and a strategic shift. Change is difficult.

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“Overcoming Internal Management Silos That Inhibit Planning & Execution”

Cross merchandising can effectively drive incremental sales for retailers by enticing customers to purchase additional items that were not on their shopping list. Most national retailers have large corporate staffs with departments in charge of specific product categories. Even the best companies can develop internal silo’s that can make any kind of cross category marketing program a challenge. This white paper discusses how to overcome management silos that inhibit planning and execution of a cross merchandising promotion.

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How Vendors Allocate Marketing Dollars

This paper addresses at a high level some of marketing’s most intriguing issues: How do marketers determine the resource allocation by brand, by country, by retailer and by marketing element.

• Most brand marketers and most retail category managers are focused on spending the funds allocated to them. This paper helps them understand the C-suite spending rationale determining what resources  ultimately trickle  down to the brand and then out to the retailer.

• The not so surprising conclusion is that management commits resources where returns are judged to be highest in the short term or of most strategic value long term.  For example, does the $250K spent on a TV spot on Dancing with the Stars have a +/- ROI vs.  a display  in Walmart or a  Kroger loyalty card mailing or a temporary price reduction allowance (a TPR) at Rite Aid.   From a shareholder’s perspective , the higher  ROI should win.

• The startling fact is that few top managers, brand managers or retail category managers have the discipline to prove the returns of their effort. This is the continuing shame of the marketing profession.

Category Management Mastery: The Key to Growth!

Mastering Category Management is critical to your company’s growth because Category Management addresses the three most important trends of the millennium:

  • The ever increasing power of retailers who focus on growing CATEGORIES instead of BRANDS.
  • The digital empowerment of shoppers who seek need state satisfaction at the CATEGORY level.
  • ‘Big data’s’ propensity to yield its most valuable insights at the CATEGORY level.

Mastering Category Management addresses these trends by:

  • Ensuring you speak your customer’s language of category growth.
  • Assuring you speak your shopper’s language of category satisfaction.
  • Organizing big data at the category level where insights naturally emerge.

Prepare to invest more resources in Category Management, especially in a larger, better trained staff and the software they will need to succeed in a more complex environment. These incremental resources will be needed to:

  • Mine gigabytes of household-level data for insights
  • Respond to retailers’ demand for individual store assortment solutions, and
  • Manage a more complex supply chain

The Category Management Association is solely responsible for the paper’s findings and conclusions; we would like to acknowledge and thank the following companies for their contributions: Acosta Sales & Marketing, Ahold, CMKG, Coca-Cola, Colgate Palmolive, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, DunnHumbyUSA, General Mills, Georgia Pacific, Interactive Edge, JDA Software, KMart, Nestle, PepsiCo, 7-Eleven, Unilever

Revolutionary In-Store Insights: End Cap Displays and The Shopper

This paper provides insight into a specific in-store merchandising tool, the endcap display. Understanding the impact of this merchandising tool is more important today than ever before.

  • Marketing dollars are flowing away from traditional mass vehicles like TV towards the store. Why? Because in-store merchandising vehicles influence behavior at the “first moment of truth”, the purchase decision at the shelf.
  • Retailers and manufacturers must understand the effect of each in-store merchandising alternative on the brand, the overall shopping basket and total store sales.
  • This paper presents insights from a new research tool, VideoMining, which analyzes shopper behavior without intruding into the shopping experience.
  • These are new insights. This white paper will give you a better understanding of how endcaps effect the shopper’s behavior.

Three Trends Changing the FMCG Ecosystem

This paper addresses at a high level three important trends that are permanently changing the FMCG competitive ecosystem. These changes affect all the industry participants: retailers, manufacturers and the diverse community of solution providers. The three trends and their implications are:

• The Growing Power of the Retailer. The traditional weapons of FMCG mass marketing (TV and magazines) have lost effectiveness and especially efficiency thereby debilitating brand equity building. At the same time retailers have consolidated and now dominate the moment of truth at the shelf aided by new tools such as loyalty cards. The balance of power has permanently shifted towards the retailer.

• The Digitally Empowered Shopper. Today’s shopper can rapidly compare price and quality. This creates new shopping behaviors especially the cherry picking of formats to satisfy specific shopper need states.

• The Big Data Big Bang. Digitally driven shopping behavior creates billions of variegated data points. This tsunami of data comprises ‘big data’. Applying new predictive analytics to this expanding data universe enables marketers to better understand.

Strategic Collaboration for Shopper Satisfaction

Industry Initiative to design a New Model for Trade Partner Collaboration

Committees were focused on developing a working document Framework/Guideline/Template of the ‘right questions’ which all companies can use to establish its own unique best practices.  Competitive edge content will not be discussed; therefore it is possible for competitors to serve on the same committee to help the industry develop an impartial framework to serve the needs of shoppers and resulting in maximum sales for all parties.