Elaine Watson United Co-op has rolled out a new web based category management tool giving the society central control over ranges at store level. The tool has slashed administration costs and significantly improved availability instore, said United's head of space management Susan Beetlestone. The system, from software group JDA, enables store managers to download store specific planograms from the society's intranet. Previously, ranging was decided by fascia, so that 300-plus c-stores had access to the same product range. As the society didn't know which products within that range its stores were going to order, out of stocks were a problem and managers had to sort through a raft of shelf edge labels generated on a daily basis to match lines they had specifically ordered. Under the new system, if a product is not on the planogram, stores cannot order it. The beauty of an electronic system also means that information affecting ranging such as a big promotion or a new product launch is fed into the central computer system, which automatically updates planograms at store level, said Beetlestone. This way, store managers can tap into real-time planograms and ensure the correct space is allocated to take new products. As the society's buying functions are transferred to CRTG, a capped range has been developed for United's estate based on its demographic profile. However, United is responsible for space allocation instore. As the space management software is linked to EPoS systems, it also serves as an analytical tool for measuring sales-to-space performance, said Beetlestone. "Because of our analytical capabilties, we can demonstrate if something isn't working," said Beetlestone. "So we can apply to CRTG to make changes to ranges." l Somerfield said it would unveil a "major category management initiative" to tailor ranges across its estate shortly. {{NEWS }}