Top Merchandise Planning Priorities for 2016 – Part One

Boston Retail Partners (BRP) recently published a special report covering retailers’ top merchandising planning priorities for 2016 and outlining how they are adapting their planning approaches and tools to effectively manage merchandise. Based on a JustEnough sponsored survey of retail industry executives, BRP’s findings indicate that retailers’ outdated planning systems aren’t robust or effective enough to support today’s complex omni-channel environment. However, according to the survey most retailers recognize this gap in their systems and 63 percent of those surveyed plan to upgrade their merchandising systems before 2018.

Top Priority - Improving Analytics

Not surprisingly, due to the ever-changing environment of omni-channel retail, 58 percent of retailers say their number one priority is to improve their analytics and better understand their customers. Advanced analytics is becoming more widely used across the planning processes with merchandise planning being the area of highest utilization. Other top areas include store planning at 45 percent, assortment planning at 40 percent and omni-channel planning at 20 percent, according to BRP’s findings.

Instead of having to guess what is resonating with a customer base, analytics provide advanced visibility into sales performance by channel, by assortment and item. Strategic business questions are becoming more complex and cross-functional, requiring retailers to reference more and more data in order to make better decisions based on customer insights. It has become critical for retailers to broaden their analytical capabilities to effectively address these complicated questions.

Leading edge retailers understand the value of advanced analytics to tap into real-time business intelligence (RTBI) and use science to make better planning decisions. It is more important than ever to be able to understand the data and derive actionable insights. According to the survey, retailers acknowledge that in order to compete and remain relevant in today’s retail landscape, they need insight into how their customers will respond to specific promotions, price changes, assortments and overall merchandise planning and use that knowledge to adjust their plans accordingly. This customer-centric approach empowers retailers to coordinate personalized promotions and marketing to drive sales, create loyal customers and gain a competitive advantage.

At JustEnough, we listen to our customers. We introduced JustEnough Customer Insights in January based on feedback from our customers indicating a lack of integrated customer data analytics in the industry. Customer Insights helps retailers identify trends, opportunities and causal relationships within their vast amounts of customer data and enable them to act upon those insights quickly and easily. Integrated across your retail planning process, Customer Insights improves customer loyalty, optimizes pricing and promotions and helps increase the bottom line.

With the help of JustEnough Customer Insights, you can:

  • Analyze customer behavior to understand which customers are most important to your business
  • Segment and cluster customers to localize and personalize assortments
  • Identify which promotions mobilize your best customers and which are cherry-picked
  • Manage different segmentations for each area of the business
  • Use customer insights to drive improved assortment, space, promotion and pricing decisions

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you understand your customers better for improved competitive advantage.

Nine More Merchandise Planning Priorities – Stay Tuned

The report identified nine additional merchandise planning priorities listed below which I will discuss in upcoming blog posts:

  1. Reduce Markdowns - 36%
  2. Better Integrate Assortments and Space Planning - 36%
  3. Enhance Merchandise Planning - 33%
  4. Enhance Assortments - 22%
  5. Decrease Merchandising Decision Lead Times - 22%
  6. Improve Execution Response Time - 22%
  7. Improve Product Availability - 19%
  8. Improve Demand Forecast Accuracy - 19%
  9. Improve Demand Planning Capabilities - 19%

So where does your organization fit in? We’d like to know. Give us some feedback on your top planning priorities for the near future.

Download the complete report here.