In today’s competitive retail market, you simply have to manage your business more precisely, identify trends faster, accurately benchmark against peers, and work more efficiently with suppliers. But when merchandise is inconsistently and insufficiently classified, it is difficult to take a deeper dive into the data, both within categories and across the broader industry. Because of this, ICBA is taking the lead to help independent college stores re-think their product hierarchies and move toward a more “universal” way of classifying merchandise.

A consistent and formal process to classify products is essential for proper merchandise management. ICBA, as part of a multi-year collaborative effort with other industry organizations, has developed a detailed hierarchy for both General Merchandise and Course Materials. This tool is called the ICBA Universal Hierarchy (UH).


Proper Application of the Universal Hierarchy Offers 3 Critical Benefits:


The Universal Hierarchy allows for a more granular categorization of merchandise, which can result in higher quality, more actionable data.

The UH was constructed to find the right mix of hierarchy depth vs. ease of use/implementation to serve all types and sizes of College Stores. It can be implemented at multiple levels of depth to suit the needs of each store in each product category.

The goal is to implement a General Merchandise Universal Hierarchy (GMUH) that addresses today’s emblematic and non-emblematic product/category needs but also anticipates future growth categories and opportunities.

The goal of the Course Materials Universal Hierarchy (CMUH) is to enable more accurate classification given the expanding and diverse nature of Course Materials in the marketplace (including New, Used, Digital, and Digital/Print hybrid products).

ICBA Universal Hierarchy is available to Members Only

Contact Jon Bibo at JonBibo@ICBAinc.com to learn more about how the Universal Hierarchy works and how it can benefit your store.