A category manager determines the layout of products in a store, using sophisticated demographic data to assess possible product assortment schemes, select an option, ensure the selected scheme is employed, and monitor the scheme's performance. Along with organizing a product assortment scheme, a category manager also creates charts and diagrams so that the company's annual plans are broken down into seasonal and monthly assortment change calendars.
Along with dealing with product assortment, a category manager also performs several key marketing duties, such as assessing display tactics, figuring out product pricing, and determining how the product is promoted and advertised. Along with marketing duties, a category manager also works with suppliers to ensure that the proper number of products are being ordered, to ensure contract compliance with suppliers and manufacturers, and to ensure that products are of agreed-upon quality. A category manger also works closely with executives and directors within the company to assess budget impacts and make sure that product assortments match company strategy and policy. Most category mangers usually responsible for a specific product category or department in multiple stores; to make sure product assortments match those stores' needs, the category manager travels frequently.
Most category manager positions require successful applicants to have a bachelor's degree in business, marketing, or a related field. Previous experience as a category manager typically is preferred.
Category Manager Tasks
- Develop annual category plans which include current situation analysis, vision and strategy and specific category plans.
- Narrow categories and work with suppliers to narrow products supplied to the company.
- Identify leverage opportunities, work with procurement, negotiate contracts, supply agreements and programs.
- Manage, improve and recommend the product assortment for the company.
- Verify plans and provide explanations for variances in budgeted sales and gross profit.