- Decide the strategy for buying goods and services for an area of a business
- Build strong supplier relationships
- Negotiate contracts and ensure they are delivered on
Category managers manage a product category or range and are responsible for sourcing of products, as well as the pricing and overall promotion of that product or service.
They'll develop a deep understanding of the market environment, trends, and customer behaviour and use this to endure that the organisation is providing the right goods and services in the right places, at the right time.
Category managers work closely with buyers and marketing specialists.
- Building Category Strategies/Sourcing Strategies i.e. routes to market
- Preparing Tender documentation
- Contract Management
- Supplier Relationship Management
- Monitoring performance metrics i.e. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)/Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
- Working to targets (savings/value/improvements or new ways of working)
- Working with suppliers to improve environmental and human rights issues in the supply chain
You'll normally be office-based, but may also undertake supplier or client visits as you move into more senior roles.
There are no set routes, but you might start out as an assistant buyer or buyer, or in a marketing role before progressing into this kind of work.
Studying business, economics, retail management, or marketing, may help you on your way, but you do not always need a degree, and there are apprenticeship opportunities that could also lead you towards a category management role.
The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply offer membership and courses that can help you develop your skills for this role. Find out more here: https://www.cips.org/
In terms of your skills and strengths you'll need to be resilient, tenacious, determined, inquisitive, be methodical, and open to new and innovative ways of working. You'll enjoy a challenge and like working to targets/objectives, be open to continued professional development and enjoy learning, and also have the confidence and ability to question why and make informed decisions.
There are plenty of opportunities within category management to progress into roles with more responsibility - for example taking on more significant categories in larger organisations. You could also move into operations management roles or consultancy.