5 Takeaways from the 2018 CMA Conference

5 Takeaways from the 2018 CMA Conference

We’re back from the 2018 Category Management & Shopper Insights Conference in Nashville, where we shared stories, learned new things (including how to juggle!) and met great folks from around the industry.

VideoMining had great conversations at our booth, and we were proud to partner with the CMA to on our video presentation, “Understanding Your Category Shopper,” located throughout the conference space. This presentation provided visibility into unique category shopping behavior from a variety of retailers and categories.

The conference featured exciting networking opportunities and informative presentations from around the retail industry. Here are our 5 key takeaways from the conference:

1. Technology

As we all know, technology is driving rapid change at a staggering rate. Upcoming innovations such as quantum computing could completely reshape the entire world within the next 10 years. When that happens, everything will change at an even more rapid pace than today, which will undoubtedly generate new challenges and opportunities for companies trying to survive in the marketplace.

At the show, exhibitors displayed solutions using a variety of new and mature technologies, including augmented reality, virtual reality, robotics, advanced analytics, machine learning, and more. The prevalence of all this technology focused on Category Management shows more acceptance of technology as a whole and more interest from the discipline in moving towards integrating robust technology solutions into all facets of business.

2. Strong balance between brick-and-mortar and online retail

While online retail is growing, brick-and-mortar still has a strong role, accounting for the vast majority of retail sales. However, the growth we’ve seen in the ecommerce space continues to feed changing consumer and shopper expectations both online and in-store.

Retailers and manufacturers will still have to dedicate significant resources to developing a sustainable ecommerce business, but that cannot come at the expense of execution in brick-and-mortar channels. Generational shifts will catalyze these changes and continue to make manufacturers and retailers have to learn and react.

3. (Over-) Abundance of data

Many speakers, across various channels and roles, mentioned that their organizations were dealing with an overabundance of data. They had plenty of sources of internal and external data, but they did not necessarily have the time or resources to analyze, understand and take actionable insights from their data assets.

This applied to both retailers and manufacturers, signaling the need for better management of data sources and collaboration between teams and with solution providers in order to distill this overabundance of data into useful insights.

4. Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration

Manufacturers and retailers are still facing fundamental challenges, and the only way to solve them is working together. Otherwise, basic operational problems become the focus, which doesn’t leave time for strategic planning focused on the future.

In the same way, organizations also need to take advantage of third-party vendors and solution providers in order to ensure that they are getting the most out of the data and research that is available. All stakeholders must commit to allocating resources to focus on the big picture to generate sustainable growth through long-term, strategic thinking.

5. Managing pace of change

Category Management as a discipline is still in transition from traditional tools and mindsets to new practices, but the pace of change will likely lag behind the explosive growth of retail technology. Conferences like this help to inspire change and grow the industry as a whole, as practitioners from across the industry share their challenges and victories in order to be better prepared for unforeseen changes and trends.

Without events like this conference, Category Managenent would be wholly reactive, because inherently, online-native products and companies will always outpace large companies that play in both ecommerce and physical retail. But by coming together and sharing experiences, Category Management practitioners can get a better, more holistic view of the entire retail landscape and can better prepare for whatever the future holds.