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Only 33% of Retailers Optimize their Inventory By Leveraging Advanced Analytics, According to BRP Report

Advanced Analytics and AI are Key to Improving Planning Decisions

Boston, MA – February 14,  2019 – According to BRP’s 2018 Integrated Planning and Inventory Management Survey, most retailers (67%) are not leveraging advanced analytics to improve their planning decisions and optimize inventory. The importance of enhanced data and analytics is not lost on retailers, however, there are further opportunities to optimize their planning and inventory. While 67% of retailers are not using advanced analytics for merchandise planning, only 39% of retailers identified improved analytics as a top priority. This is a disconnect. As technological capabilities continue to advance, investing more resources into data utilization needs to be a critical objective for retailers.

Advanced analytics, or predictive analytics, offers retailers the ability to predict outcomes based on sophisticated algorithms and historical data. This requires human interaction to query data, validate patterns, create and then test use cases and assumptions. Now, with artificial intelligence (AI), also known as machine learning, planning systems can reassess models and reevaluate the data, all without the intervention of a human. AI is able to test and retest data to predict every possible customer-product match, at a speed and capability no human, or team of humans, could possibly achieve. The result is far more accurate decisions.

“Analytics serve as an important tool in assisting retailers to find and interpret meaningful patterns in customer and inventory data to support decision-making,” said Robert Cuthbertson, vice president at BRP Consulting. “Insight into customer demand, product adjacencies, price sensitivity, reaction to promotions, demographics and more are key to drive merchandise plans and actions that maximize profitability. This is especially critical in an omni-channel environment, as understanding the preferences of disparate customer groups across different channels becomes more complicated.”

“The technology for AI tools has advanced dramatically in the past five years. Innovative new technologies can even predict where customers will be in the next hour or next day based on historical patterns,” said Ken Morris, principal at BRP Consulting. “AI is also helping retailers make better decisions on which store should fulfill an online order.  While traditional logic would select the product from the closest store to the consumer, with machine learning techniques, retailers can assess the value of inventory in each store to make smarter fulfillment decisions. For example, if they can identify/predict that the item in inventory at the closest store will likely sell at full price, but the same item at a different store location will likely result in overstock and markdowns, the retailer can ship from the further store and maximize total profits.”

According to the 2018 Integrated Planning and Inventory Management Survey retailers’ current and planned usage of advanced analytics by planning area includes:

  • Merchandise Planning – 33% of retailers currently use advanced analytics for merchandise planning and another 48% plan to within three years.
  • Assortment Planning – 30% of retailers currently use advanced analytics for assortment planning and another 49% plan to within three years
  • Demand Planning – 31% of retailers currently use advanced analytics for demand planning and another 54% plan to within three years.
  • Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) – 22% of retailers currently use advanced analytics for PLM and another 33% plan to within three years.

BRP conducted the 2018 Integrated Planning and Inventory Management Survey to explore the current state of retail planning and to identify and understand retailers’ priorities as they strive to meet the needs and demands of today’s consumers. Platinum sponsors are Aptos and Mi9 Retail, gold sponsors are Celect and Retalon, and silver sponsors are ANT USA and enVista.

To download the 2018 Integrated Planning and Inventory Management Survey, visit:

https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-integrated-planning-survey

About BRP

BRP is an innovative retail management consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients. BRP combines its consultants’ deep retail business knowledge and cross-functional capabilities to deliver superior design and implementation of strategy, technology, and process solutions. The firm’s unique combination of industry focus, knowledge-based approach, and rapid, end-to-end solution deployment helps clients to achieve their business potential. BRP’s consulting services include:

Strategy | Business Intelligence | Business Process Optimization | Point of Sale (POS)
Mobile POS | Payment Security | E-Commerce | Store Systems and Operations | CRM
Unified Commerce | Customer Experience | Order Management | Networks
Merchandise Management | Supply Chain | Private Equity

For more information on BRP, visit http://www.brpconsulting.com.

Report: Retailers gearing up to meet customer needs

Retail Customer Experience – Many retailers, about 50 percent, aim to improve systems and processes over the next three years to better meet consumer needs and expectations, as well as streamline processes.

Today’s increasingly disparate solutions are driving the strategy, according to BRP’s 2018 Integrated Planning and Inventory Management Survey, according to a press release.

“Today’s customer journey requires retailers to use an integrated set of solutions, processes and organization to create and deliver the shopping experience consumers expect,” said Gene Bornac, senior vice president and practice lead, BRP, retail consulting firm. “Retailers are also focused on improving the integration of actionable customer data into their planning activities, as customer demand is a critical variable in today’s customer-led demand planning.”

Read full article: Report: Retailers gearing up to meet customer needs

Consumer-centric retail environment calls for data-driven planning

Luxury Daily – Despite the potential of leveraging consumer insights to guide merchandising decisions, many retailers are failing to effectively incorporate shopper data into their planning stages.

According to a new report from BRP, retail consulting firm, 54 percent of retailers are looking to better integrate consumer data into their planning process, making it the top priority for the next year. As retailers look to deliver the assortments and seamless shopping experiences that consumers crave, being able to mine real-time data from a wider set of sources can help stores drive sales and loyalty in a competitive environment.

“Many retailers aren’t using customer data in their planning because is difficult from many perspectives,” said Gene Bornac, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “Gathering customer data from multiple sources and systems and integrating it into planning systems and process is a lot of work and many retailers don’t have the time, or think they don’t, to solve this challenge.

“The retailers that use customer data in their planning process enjoy the benefits of more accurate forecasts, assortments and allocations, which results in optimized inventory and sales,” he said.

BRP’s 2018 Integrated Planning & Inventory Management Survey is based on an online survey of retailers.

Read Full Article: Consumer-centric retail environment calls for data-driven planning

Elevated Customer Expectations Require Integrated Planning Processes and Systems, According to BRP Report

54% of Retailers are Focused on Better Integration of Customer Data into Planning Activities

Boston, MA – December 13, 2018 – As customer shopping journeys continue to span across channels, it is imperative for retail planning processes, systems and organizations to be streamlined and integrated to meet increased customer expectations. Current disparate solutions must be transformed into one cohesive environment with the ability to offer customers a seamless shopping environment and the capability to deliver the right merchandise immediately – wherever it is needed. BRP published the 2018 Integrated Planning and Inventory Management Survey to offer insights on the key challenges and benefits of integrating planning processes and systems and identify where retailers are on this path to providing a holistic shopping experience.

“Today’s customer journey requires retailers to use an integrated set of solutions, processes and organization to create and deliver the shopping experience consumers expect,” said Gene Bornac, senior vice president and practice lead, BRP. “The good news is that many retailers realize their systems and processes need improvement and are planning to replace more than 50% of their planning systems within the next three years. Retailers are also focused on improving the integration of actionable customer data into their planning activities, as customer demand is a critical variable in today’s customer-led demand planning.”

To achieve an integrated retail planning model, retailers need to:

Align the organization

  • 40% of retailer currently have an integrated planning organization across channels and 73% of those indicate it needs improvement
  • Within three years, 87% of retailers plan to have an integrated planning organization across channels

Integrate planning processes

  • 43% of retailer currently have an integrated planning business processes across channels and 84% of those indicate it needs improvement
  • Within three years, 93% of retailers plan to have integrated planning business processes across channels

Implement technology

  • 39% of retailer currently have an integrated planning systems across channels and 82% of those indicate it needs improvement
  • Within three years, 89% of retailers will have integrated planning systems across channels

Prioritize customer data

  • 54% of retailers are focused on better integration of actionable customer data into their planning activities
  • 44% of retailers utilize customer feedback in real-time to impact in-season planning

To download the 2018 Integrated Planning and Inventory Management Survey, visit:

https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-integrated-planning-survey

About BRP

BRP is an innovative retail management consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients. BRP combines its consultants’ deep retail business knowledge and cross-functional capabilities to deliver superior design and implementation of strategy, technology, and process solutions. The firm’s unique combination of industry focus, knowledge-based approach, and rapid, end-to-end solution deployment helps clients to achieve their business potential. BRP’s consulting services include:

Strategy | Business Intelligence | Business Process Optimization | Point of Sale (POS)

Mobile POS | Payment Security | E-Commerce | Store Systems and Operations | CRM

Unified Commerce | Customer Experience | Order Management | Networks

Merchandise Management | Supply Chain | Private Equity

For more information on BRP, visit http://www.brpconsulting.com.

Integrated Planning Solutions are Imperative to Retail Success, According to BRP Report

The BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Integrated Planning – Getting it Right, Identifies Key Challenges and Benefits of Integrated Planning Processes

Boston, MA – December 6, 2018– Streamlined and integrated planning processes are foundational to developing sound strategies and plans that align with consumers’ expectation of a seamless, cross-channel shopping journey. BRP published the SPECIAL REPORT: Integrated Planning – Getting it Right, based on the 2017 Merchandise Planning Survey, to offer insights into the key challenges and benefits of integrating planning processes and systems.

“While some retailers have been able to work with legacy tools and disjointed processes, their results have been hindered by siloed data. In order to keep up, retailers must evaluate their processes and technology, automate tactical activities, and focus on how they can position their organization for success,” said Gene Bornac, senior vice president and practice lead, BRP. “With the knowledge that they have the right data integrated across the process, it will improve retailers’ ability to focus on finding the right products and distributing them to the right places. Integrated planning processes and technology are key to this effort by providing a single source of truth, collaborative approach, and organizational alignment.”

Retailers are gathering more data, across multiple channels and customer touchpoints, that is being leveraged by financial plans, demand plans, assortment plans, and store plans. The importance of a fully integrated planning solution to analyze and utilize this data is key to ensuring retailers remain competitive in this rapidly changing landscape. An integrated planning solution eliminates silos, leverages the same data, streamlines decisions, and builds consensus.

Integrating planning process is important, but also challenging.  This special report acknowledges the obstacles involved to eliminate silos and integrate people, processes and technology: resource constraints, disparate systems, organizational/process challenges, and budget constraints.

To download the BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Integrated Planning – Getting it Right visit:

https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-special-report-planning

The BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Getting it Right: The Science of Planningplatinum sponsor is Aptosand the gold sponsors are enVista, Mi9, Logility, NCR, and Retalon.

About BRP

BRP is an innovative retail consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients. BRP combines its consultants’ deep retail business knowledge and cross-functional capabilities to deliver superior design and implementation of strategy, technology, and process solutions. The firm’s unique combination of industry focus, knowledge-based approach, and rapid, end-to-end solution deployment helps clients to achieve their business potential. BRP’s consulting services include:

Strategy | Business Intelligence | Business Process Optimization | Point of Sale (POS)
Mobile POS | Payment Security | E-Commerce | Store Systems and Operations | CRM
Unified Commerce | Customer Experience | Order Management | Networks
Merchandise Management | Supply Chain | Private Equity

For more information on BRP, visit http://www.brpconsulting.com.

Rotarity aims to be the streetwear answer to Rent the Runway

Glossy – The relentless pace, exorbitant price and intensely of-the-moment nature of modern streetwear have all combined to make keeping a rotating, relevant closet of the latest pieces incredibly difficult. But just as Rent the Runway shook up the luxury fashion industry, a new platform is hoping to change streetwear.

For Rotarity founder Chris Hasek-Watt, the inspiration to create a rental service for streetwear came from a very pragmatic place: his own unwillingness to spend massive amounts of money on clothes he would only wear a few times.

“The designs are cool and flashy, but you can only wear it a few times before it starts to look like you’re wearing the same thing every day,” he said.

“The biggest challenges for streetwear rental services are price point and customer base,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at BRP retail consulting firm. “There is probably a minimum price point for streetwear to be profitable for a rental model. The other potential challenge is that the target audience for streetwear rental may be a different demographic than the traditional fashion rental consumer, which may require more advertising and education on the value proposition.”

Read Full Article: Rotarity aims to be the streetwear answer to Rent the Runway

Price and Promotions Wars: How to Avoid the Race to the Bottom

Retail TouchPoints – In the world of pricing and promotions, the five most dreaded words are “a race to the bottom.” That’s a contest where the only thing worse than winning is coming in second.

It’s true that price wars and their companion, overly generous promotions, can definitely eat into (or even destroy) retailers’ profit margins. Just over half (52%) of consumers receive weekly or monthly promotions for items they would have happily paid full price for, according to a Forrester Research study conducted in May 2017 and updated in April 2018.

It’s also true that getting the price right — for each customer, at each touch point and at the optimal time of the day, week or selling season — can seem like an insurmountable obstacle. But as complex and daunting as the challenges are, most retailers have access to both the data and the tools to make smart pricing and promotion decisions. But what they too often lack are the actions required to make the data and solutions work effectively.

PAGE 7 (Excerpts):

USE PERSONALIZATION TECHNIQUES TO OPTIMIZE PRICING AND PROMOTION

The big data revolution and the advances being made with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have important personalization applications in the pricing and promotions arena. “Retailers like The North Face ask customers question on their web site, and then are able to connect the right products with their best customers at the best times,” said Nathan Beckstrom, Senior Consultant at BRP Consulting. “So, at the exact time a high-value customer is looking for a waterproof parka, it’s in front of their faces. Another customer that doesn’t spend at that same dollar amount would see something else, like an accessory. While it would take an individual an inordinate amount of time to figure that out, machine learning can go in, make generally good decisions to put that in front of the customer and be successful.”

Additionally, individualized or region-based pricing can backfire for retailers. “Sears and Kmart ended up paying millions in fines when they did this some years ago,” said Beckstrom in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. Even if the actions are legal, a lack of pricing consistency can hurt a brand’s image: “Customers typically want retailers to be consistent across the board,” he added. “It’s better to incentivize with gift cards and promotions versus having one customer pay $50 for an item and another paying $75 for the same item.”

Read Full Article: Price and Promotions Wars: How to Avoid the Race to the Bottom

What can luxury retailers learn from Amazon Prime Day?

Luxury Daily – Ecommerce giant Amazon is hosting its largest annual promotional event, which can serve as an example to luxury retailers as they hope to make inroads with their online shopping strategies. Starting on July 16 and taking place throughout a 36-hour window, Prime Day is expected to generate billions of dollars in sales for the online marketplace. This record-breaking shopping event also serves as an opportunity for legacy brands to capitalize on consumers’ spending during this “Christmas in July” period.

“Luxury retailers can emulate some of the marketing principals of Prime Day and organize virtual events that engage their customers,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners, Boston. “Rather than deep discounts, luxury retailers can focus on limited availability of exclusive products for a specific time period or only available to premier loyalty members.”

“While some luxury retailers have begun selling some of their merchandise on Amazon, most have limited their product assortment Amazon to avoid cannibalization of the brands’ sales,” Mr. Morris said.

“Keeping a good share of their product assortment exclusive to the retailer’s brand ecommerce site is the best approach to motivate customers to visit their site on a regular basis,” he said. “It is also imperative to have a steady cadence of new items, promotions and events to keep customers engaged with the brand.”

Read Full Article: What can luxury retailers learn from Amazon Prime Day?

2018 Holiday Guide – Putting Personalization into Practice

Retail TouchPoints – Integrating personalization into retail marketing and communications strategies is becoming more important every day. Especially during the highly competitive holiday shopping season, consumers are looking for relevant promotions, messaging and interactions from the brands they visit online, in-store and via every other touch point.

The 9th annual Retail TouchPoints Holiday Guide offers strategic insights, tips and real-world case studies that drive home the value of delivering a more personalized retail experience.

Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP, shared these comments:

“The key to success in meeting consumers’ last mile expectations is having the right product in the right place, so that you are buying it once and touching it once.”  Putting product in the distribution centers or stores that are geographically close to their final destinations makes the last mile both shorter and speedier.

“You don’t necessarily have to offer two-hour delivery, but if you offer two-day delivery, you have to meet that expectation 99.9% of the time,” said Kramer. “Customers may be buying something they need for the weekend or as they are heading out on vacation.”

The growth of BORIS (buy online/return in-store) has meant increased convenience for consumers, but has created a new set of issues for retailers — particularly when the items purchased online are not carried in the brick-and-mortar store. “Some retailers are limiting the impact of BORIS by offering customers who are returning products a coupon for X percentage off anything they purchase in the store on the same day,” said Kramer. “This is a great way for retailers to garner some additional sales from customers returning merchandise.”

Read Full Article: 2018 Holiday Guide – Putting Personalization into Practice

CLOUD STRATEGIES: Proving Key to Personalization, Product Content Enhancement

Retail TouchPoints – The retail cloud business segment is expected to reach more than $28 billion by 2021, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.9%, according to research from MarketsandMarkets. As many as 70% of retailers say cloud will be a major factor in their business by 2020, according to a report from The Economist Intelligence Unit. But as more retailers jump aboard the cloud bandwagon, they should strive to gain a competitive edge with the technology that goes beyond the basic benefits of a cloud implementation.

This Retail TouchPoints Special Report will spotlight innovative strategies facilitated by cloud solutions that can help retailers achieve new business goals with speed and efficiency.

Many retailers already are leveraging cloud servers for business basics like POS processes, order management and fulfillment and communications across the enterprise. More advanced cloud offerings can help them:

  • Personalize offers even before the purchase journey begins;
  • Improve delivery and quality of product content offerings, especially as the number of SKUs they carry increases;
  • Unlock and unify customer data from disparate sources; and
  • Assist with in-store, mobile-powered guided selling.

ELIMINATING THE ‘SAFETY STOCK’ PROBLEM

Despite the introduction of cloud services, many merchants still haven’t taken the proper steps to give shoppers true “real-time” access to their inventory across channels. Many retailers still struggle with “safety stock” — additional quantities of an item held in inventory to reduce the risk that the item will be out of stock, according to Ken Morris, Principal of BRP.

“Let’s say I’m selling Tag Heuer watches — I must have a safety stock of two to account for this lag,”
said Morris. “If I have two or less items in a store, I have to tell corporate I have no items, because I have to account for the lag in updates to inventories between all the distribution centers and all of the stores. Although I may have two each in every store of 1,000 stores, it’s going to read as zero to someone trying to buy online and pick up in store.”

With a cloud service that incorporates data from all stores and distribution centers, retailers would be able to generate more accurate real-time stock numbers throughout the enterprise, without worrying about products going out-of-stock. Additionally, associates would be able to access this information quicker within the store, so they could assist consumers with real-time inventory data.

MOBILE APPS GUIDE IN-STORE SALES VIA SHOPPER DATA

Cloud platforms also can help retailers match products within the store to shoppers via guided selling. Morris described how an app recently designed for a BRP retail client offers guided selling in-store based on prior shopper behavior.

“Whatever they visited or put on their wish list or basket as they walked into the store, the app would guide them around to look at what they saw online and direct them with a Google map around the store,” Morris said. “This makes retail experiences way more relevant than most are today, especially because stores are changing. Having that data while the customer is in the store is key. To be able to affect the sale before checkout is what Amazon does every day online. They know who I am, they know what I buy, they know what I’m likely to buy and they help me through that sale.”

Read Full Article: CLOUD STRATEGIES: Proving Key to Personalization, Product Content Enhancement