Mastering Planning Solutions in Today’s Ultra-Fast-Paced Retail Environment
Watch our thought provoking webinar and take a look at three experts views with different perspectives on Retail Merchandise Planning. If implementing a Merchandise Planning solution is on your list of to do’s, then this is the perfect opportunity to hear in depth, practical advice from a retailer, an analyst and a solution provider as they discuss the opportunities and challenges in today’s fast-paced retail environment. Moderated by Susan Nichols from Apparel, Listen to Jon Beck, CEO of Columbus Consulting, Kelly Smith Vice President, Planning and Allocation at Altar’d State and our very own, Richard Gaetano.
Without doubt it is key for retailers to remain agile and adaptable. Retailers must be ready, to eventually evolve in the world of the modern consumer. Susan Nichols, Apparel magazine put forward some interesting questions such as the latest trends in Merchandise Planning, what challenges to expect, ROI opportunities, including Improved Stock Turn; Lower Inventory Levels; Increased Productivity & Open to Buy Control
Retailers indicate that technology projects require ROI within the 6 to 12 month range for board approval, now with the time freed up by its more efficient and accurate merchandise planning tool the retailer will have more time to spend on other aspects of business. Analyse the business impact of the retailers’ decisions, work with vendors, and collaborate with marketing on advertising and promotion effort. Each speaker couldn’t stress enough the need to implement a clear and accurate view of the impact on the overall profitability of the company. A Planning Solution has the ability to improve stock turn, lower inventory levels and keeps a tighter control of cash. This allows retailers to efficiently manage stock based on a sales forecast and actual sales and stock information. Fewer markdowns, tight control of budgets, data is maintained within a database, not on multiple worksheets.
Why can implementing Planning Solutions be beneficial?
Kelly Walker stressed that planning solution is just a tool, it needs a healthy culture and data to be able to be successful. Think customer, align technology and process to consumer needs, consumer centre KPI, Organise customer journeys, Omni-Channel transformation.
The use of manual spreadsheets is a talking point; Recognised as easy to use but the drawbacks are it is not the most effective software in terms of Data reliability. In this modern age the retailers have acknowledged the importance of having a data strategy, but the use of manual spreadsheets could mean a lack of data quality control. This results in retailers experiencing data errors for critical business decisions.
What challenges to expect when implementing Planning Solutions
The question fielded to our speakers of the challenges retailers face when implementing a Planning Solution provided us with some interesting answers. Richard Gaetano noted that for your business to successfully install Planning Solutions it is essential that you have a senior level buy in, Kelly Walker supported this as well as highlighting a “Pull solution rather than push” if everyone is pulling in the same direction it will be a success, if everyone using the tool is fully behind it and with the correct data, it will be more likely to succeed.
Kelly Walker and Jon Beck both made the point of try not to over complicate the Planning Solution, as people are learning how to use it, simplify what your planners and buyers are going to use as this will help in the long run on the implementation being a success.
In essence, the implementation of a Planning applications allows retailers to streamline their businesses whilst buying them more time to concentrate on other aspects of their business.
Island Pacific FastPlan
Island Pacific recognises that many retailers need to implement solution’s quickly the introduction of Island Pacific FastPlan which provides the ability to deliver a prescriptive best of breed planning application in only 3 months with the added benefit of a monthly subscription fee, means that barriers to implementing a planning solution to replace manual unwieldy spreadsheets are now available.