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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

  • A category management analyst views statistics on a mobile pad in a grocery store.

Category management partnership opens new career opportunities for UofSC students

By Allen Wallace,
Posted on November 8, 2019

Think of the last store you visited. You saw some products near the front, others on the end of aisles. Some are on high and difficult to reach shelves, while others are at eye level for an average adult and still others lower, where a child might easily spot them.

Product placement, inventory decisions and other analytic decisions are part of the lucrative and fast-growing segment of the retailing industry known as category management. A new partnership is opening doors to that job market for University of South Carolina retail management students.

In partnership with the Category Management Association (CMA), Shopper Insights Management Association (SIMA) and Category Management Knowledge Group (CMKG), South Carolina’s Department of Retailing is building new curriculum in category management that will enable students to earn certification as category managers and shopper insights professionals.

There are thousands of jobs in category management going unfilled. Creating best-in-class curriculum with industry leaders gives our students the edge to compete in this new and growing career field across the retail industry.

— Jeffrey Campbell, retailing associate professor and member of the Higher Education Advisory Board for CMA. “

“There are thousands of jobs in category management going unfilled,” says South Carolina Retailing Associate Professor Jeffrey Campbell, who also serves on the Higher Education Advisory Board for CMA. “Creating best-in-class curriculum with industry leaders gives our students the edge to compete in this new and growing career field across the retail industry.”

Category management is a cross between space planning and business analytics. Specialists in the field plan which products should remain in stores, where to place them, how much of each product to keep in stock and examine data to maximize sales productivity. As technology has allowed data to be much more readily available and more easily examined, category management has grown by leaps and bounds, creating new jobs well-suited for new graduates.

“This job sector provides opportunities to get into a corporate environment early in your career,” Campbell says. “In many cases you’re given your own area to handle. It’s almost like running your own business.”

SIMA President Leslie Warshaw and CMKG President Sue Nicholls will be working with the South Carolina Department of Retailing to implement the new curriculum, which will prepare students to be certified as professional category analysts.

“This certification is a big deal,” Campbell says. Major companies including Coca-Cola, FritoLay, General Mills and Home Depot are currently searching for qualified category analysts.

“When it comes to preparing students for successful careers in retail, we have to be dynamic and stay at the forefront of technology innovation,” says Campbell.

The new partnership is another example of the department’s commitment to keeping up with the quickly evolving retail industry and ensuring that UofSC students are the best prepared to succeed. It also supports CMA and SIMA’s ongoing commitment to support higher education in category management, providing new sources of talent for their membership and support the future of the profession.

Learn more about UofSC's Department of Retailing.

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