Retailers to Invest in Assortment Plan Visualization and Merchandising Integration Technology

Last week, we highlighted the top three challenges retailers must overcome to optimize their assortments according to the new EKN 2016 Assortment Management & Optimization report, sponsored by JustEnough Software.

To address these obstacles, close to half of the 50 North American retailers surveyed said they are focused on investing in assortment plan visualization technology this year for a couple of reasons: First, they lack adequate visibility into frequently changing multi-attribute assortment plans across various store formats. Second, there is a strong need for more effective retail store execution.

Retailers have typically lagged behind consumer product companies in adopting 3D visualization tools to help them plan better assortments and understand what their products will look like in distinct store settings – i.e., big-box, small-store and express-store formats. In order to adopt 3D visualization tools, retailers must loosen their grip on tedious 2D planogramming, which requires constant updates to the product selection, shelf-level facings and aisle placements.

The next biggest investment retailers plan to make is in solutions to help them better integrate their merchandise and assortment plans. Retailers either develop top-down or bottom-up merchandise plans. Such plans typically reside in separate modules within a software platform – or, they are created using spreadsheets. Either way, they are developed separately from the assortment plan, resulting in a disconnect in terms of overarching strategy, production and even marketing.

There is an immediate need for deeper integration between these two critical merchandising pillars so that a common vision and business objectives are followed by all stakeholders. Assortment plans that are linked more cohesively with targets in the merchandise financial plan will ultimately help the retailer achieve its revenue goals.

Next week on the blog, we’ll spotlight the key capabilities needed for deeper integration between assortments and core merchandising areas. In the meantime, check out the EKN 2016 Assortment Management & Optimization report here.