The Alignment of People, Processes and Technology Stands in the Way of Strategic Omni-Channel Inventory Planning: New Survey

Creating an omni-channel inventory strategy gives retailers an opportunity to tear down organizational silos and leverage synergies across the business. In my last post, we looked at ways retailers can overcome obstacles standing in the way of optimized merchandise-planning effectiveness, which comes down to two key challenges according to the JustEnough-sponsored 2016 Merchandise Planning Benchmark Survey: the need for advanced analytics and reducing technology constraints.

Today, we’ll take a closer look integration issues standing in the way of retailers that want to adopt an omni-channel inventory strategy approach. With technology now doing much of the heavy lifting in many capacities, retailers may need to eliminate redundant roles and functions by consolidating disparate groups into a single unified team. Specifically, the integration of planning systems across channels gives planners better visibility and insights that can translate into better recommendations with respect to price, promotion and inventory. But according to the survey, many organizations struggle from a cultural standpoint: it can be difficult to get internal stakeholders to consider the enterprise as a whole, versus the needs of individual teams or departments. In fact, most retailers that have taken steps to integrate their planning processes, organizations and systems indicate there is room for improvement.

While more retailers have implemented these initiatives compared to last year, the areas that need improvement have increased at a higher rate – i.e., better cross-channel integration of assortment plans and merchandise financial plans. This is likely because many businesses simply take a “just get something done” approach instead of considering the impact on the culture and all of the processes that need to evolve.

Part of breaking down planning silos includes disrupting the traditional alignment of planning teams. Historically, such teams have aligned around product categories by channel. However, this does not work with the omni-channel model of retail in which sales are planned across the enterprise. In order to achieve the synergies of omni-channel retail, planning teams must be re-aligned and in some cases consolidated to create a more proactive and nimble organization.

Next week, we’ll talk more about what the future holds for retailers that are focused on improving omni-channel planning. The Boston Retail Partners survey can be found here. Contact JustEnough today to learn more about our end-to-end suite of omni-channel demand management solutions.