Drapers Roundtable Breakfast – Future Planning

The Drapers roundtable breakfast partnered by Island Pacific on 6th October 2016 is more than just coffee and croissants in an upmarket hotel, it is an opportunity for the merchandising & planning knights of the roundtable (breakfast) to open the debate on whether Microsoft Excel is the pinnacle of the data software available to the retailer? Or should retailers invest in developing a new programme to implement an effective data strategy, which can then flow into planning. So if, as Alfred A Montapert once said you “expect problems, eat them for breakfast”.

The questions that will be asked and debated whilst the toast is buttered and the soldiers ceremonially dunked into the egg will be whether you are Excel based, and if so, how effectively does that feed into your company’s IT infrastructure? Or have you made the investment in Planning, Assortment Planning or merchandising software? Does the case for investment need to be made for your board? What does your team structure look like and how does it feed into these different processes?

So, as you try and digest the questions, a study produced by Columbus Consultants and sponsored by Island Pacific has been conducted, that will be shared and shed some light on the subject. What I have here are a few key points from the report:

It found that 99% of businesses understand the importance of having a data strategy, but lack data quality control. This results in organisations experiencing data errors and breakdowns, mainly because the bulk of key business processes actioned using Excel. They concluded that 75% of businesses are wasting 14% of revenue due to poor data quality. I can already imagine you spitting your coffee out all over your screens.

As the millennials have become the most prominent demographic, the modern shopper is now influencing the evolution of retail. Now, more so than ever the millennial is shopping across multiple channels such as the apps, mobile, social and on the web. The modern shopper now comes at you from all angles, are your planning systems able to keep up with fast paced shopping? With customers adapting and evolving is it now time to do the same? The Columbus Consultants report does stress that timing is key, do not force change, every must be in place to make the move seamlessly into a multi-channel direction.

Now I can hear you Excel loyalist muttering ‘it isn’t so? Excel has not become archaic?’ Well, my answer to you is, not yet. The purpose of this breakfast and report is to help decide if the timing is right to move from spreadsheets to multi-channel planning, it is key for retailers to remain agile and adaptable. Retailers must be ready, to eventually evolve in the world of the modern consumer.  Now it is not out of the ordinary for fashion retailers and brands to be using Excel spreadsheets for their planning needs, in fact its common place, but as UK businesses become more multi-channel and international we will reach a junction where more investment in these systems is essential to the structure flowing across all channels.

The Centre for Retail Research has found that in the U.K there has been a 14.9% growth in online shopping in 2016, so as the Web starts to contribute more of revenue online. The report’s findings suggests retailers now need to begin to discuss structures, which is the purpose of the Drapers breakfast, a chance to open discussion on future planning.

The event will be on-the-record, and will be featured within Drapers. However, of course it’s not all about the discussion of ‘Future planning’ there will also be an opportunity to converse, eat and drink, with the opportunity to network before and after the main discussion.