A new analytics tool seeks to take the randomness out of tracking sales of random-weight items. IRI Integrated Fresh, whose debut was announced Dec. 15 by cloud tech provider IRI, establishes data-based definitions for departments such as bakery, deli and meat—departments where item categories and descriptions that vary from store to store can make it difficult to track and compare sales.
IRI worked with the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA), as well as individual retailers and suppliers, to standardize definitions for designated grocery departments. The result is a "syndicated data structure to measure all items in the store regardless of code type," according to an IRI news release.
How a given product is categorized can have a significant impact on the reported sales performance of that category. The goal of the Integrated Fresh tool is to make apples-to-apples comparisons just that. Also, with better integration of both rand0m-weight and traditional UPC items into sales data, manufacturers and retailers can get a clearer view of category trends and performance, according to IRI.
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"Before Integrated Fresh, definitively measuring the total size of the deli or bakery departments was difficult and varied greatly depending on data source and retailer," said Jeremy Johnson, VP of education for IDDBA, in the news release.
IRI also released a handful of projections for grocery sales in December based on data gleaned from the Integrated Fresh tool. Notably, IRI forecasts that consumers, as they did before Thanksgiving, will shop for their holiday meal prep extra early this year. "A significant majority of shoppers will purchase holiday meal items at least seven days before the event," IRI predicts. Also, while meat volumes are expected to be flat to slightly down, dollar sales and units sold are projected to rise in some meat categories as consumers shop for smaller bird and meat portions appropriate for their smaller holiday gatherings.