Walking the Tightrope

JustEnough’s Nick Bourland and Keith Whaley recently wrote an article about strategies that retailers can employ in order to create the right balance of building an assortment plan that is visually compelling and draws customers in, while not jeopardizing financial success. It outlines how companies can understand key points in the assortment plan process to determine where art or science should take the lead. Below are strategies recommended in order to attain the right balance and truly marry the art and science of assortment planning.

Dive Deeper Into Your Data

Traditionally, retailers have planned their assortments guided by the structure of their product hierarchies. For many, this is due to the fact that their systems aren’t capable of a more flexible approach, or perhaps their available resources simply aren’t able to analyze at more granular levels. By drilling down deeper into the data, merchandising organizations can hone in on areas of opportunity created by local customer affinity that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Reduce the Risk of New Products

Ask a hundred retailers and they’ll all agree – infusing assortments with newness each season is a critical component of their success. The problem is, no matter how great a proposed new product may appear, properly estimating consumer reaction is an ever-moving target. By breaking down financial targets that are typically planned at higher levels of the product hierarchy into more attribute-based or trend-specific categories, retailers can identify areas of focus for core business versus complementary offerings. This helps ensure that precious open-to-buy dollars are allocated to the areas of business in which they will be most impactful and provide the greatest return.

Location, Location, Location

Another key step in finding hidden opportunities is understanding the differences that exist across a business by location. Selling trends can vary widely from one store to the next, even within the same geographical area. Recognizing these differences and then grouping similar stores together allows retailers to localize their assortment offerings without the requirement of planning assortments for every individual store.

Time is of the Essence

The last strategy we offer up for planning with greater insight and precision is understanding the role that time plays in the equation. Being able to grasp historic demand for any timeframe by both product and location enables retailers to see the bigger picture – how assortment breadth and depth should flex across the calendar to closely mirror changes in demand. Christmas and Back to School are no surprise to most retailers, but what about other events that happen at a more local level? The intersection of analytics by product, location and time paints the complete picture of ideal assortment size throughout the year.

Finding the Balance

By digging deeper into customer preferences through historical data analysis, it’s possible to build compelling assortments that achieve financial targets while still allowing merchants and buyers to address emerging trends. Through robust historical data modeling and process flexibility, the JustEnough Assortment Planning solution enables retailers to plan in a manner that feels custom to their specific business needs and yet move forward with confidence, knowing a sound analytical foundation lies beneath every step.

To read the full article, click here.

Find out more about how JustEnough can help you find the perfect balance of art of science in your next assortment. Contact us today.