Retailers Face Omni-Channel Demand Planning Challenges

Despite ongoing efforts to create a seamless omni-channel environment, retailers’ planning organizations are not wholly ready for unified commerce, according to Boston Retail Partners’ 2016 Merchandise Planning Benchmark Survey.

Sponsored by JustEnough Software, the annual survey explores the current state of retail planning, identifying and analyzing retailers’ priorities for the coming year. It comes as no surprise that today’s retailers struggle with a host of business and IT issues as they strive for an efficient, successful omni-channel environment. Customers are increasingly demanding, armed with the ability to shop whenever, wherever and however they want with high expectations that what they are looking for will be available for the right price the moment they are ready to make a purchase.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll dive deeper in the survey findings, but below are the three most-commonly cited omni-channel planning challenges:

  • The retailer’s organizational structure is not set up to support an omni-channel environment.
  • Planning applications are ineffective and not integrated.
  • The organization is ill-equipped to analyze the high volume of data required to optimize planning decision.

In fact, the research shows that 71% of retailers have yet to create a formal omni-channel demand planning process. Additionally, 38% of respondents plan brick-and-mortar as an individual channel, and while 44% have integrated planning teams, 88% of those retailers indicated they could use improvement.

When asked how to overcome the obstacles, just shy of half (44%) said improving analytics is a top priority. Twenty-one percent said disparate systems and process challenges are the biggest obstacles, and 41% are looking to upgrade their omni-channel demand planning systems within two years.

Finally, when asked about integration issues, while 63% of retailers have integrated their planning organizations across channels, three-quarters said they have work to do in that arena. Seventy percent said they have integrated planning business processes across channels in place, but of those 83% need improvement. Finally, just over half (53%) have integrated planning systems across channels, but 77% said they could be better.

Keep an eye out for next week’s blog post for a closer look at what retailers are doing today to manage customer expectations across all selling channels, according to the survey data. To access the Boston Retail Partners research, click here and be sure to contact JustEnough today to learn more about our fully integrated, end-to-end suite of omni-channel demand management solutions.