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:

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

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.

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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.


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.


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

Retailers Must Become More Customer-Centric

CRM Magazine – Although customer-centricity is the top strategic initiative for 47 percent of retailers, customer demand is making it essential for all retailers to become more customer-centric, Boston Retail Partners (BRP) concludes in a recent report.

The report then lays out five key practices for retailers to become more customer-centric: align the organization, integrate planning processes, implement the right technology, prioritize customer insight, and take action.

This first step, which involves shifting internal culture and organizational mind-sets to a view of the enterprise as a whole rather than as a collection of separate divisions, is one of the major challenges facing retailers because most of them still operate within functional siloes, the report notes. With this in mind, BRP analysts urge companies to establish cross-functional teams equipped to work collaboratively to plan, manage, and execute the functions necessary to run omnichannel organizations and deliver seamless customer experiences.

“For retailers to start making profits, especially with the increase in demand for omnichannel, buy-anywhere-sell-anywhere-pick-it-up-anywhere [mind-sets], retailers really have to get the right product in the place where the customer wants it so that they only have to touch it once,” says Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “The challenge for retailers is that quite often they break even at best on omnichannel sales. When you put in the labor, transportation cost, shipping fees, and all of that, they generally have a much more profitable sale when they have it in the store. If they actually have to touch the product more than once to move it to a place to get it shipped, it really becomes very unprofitable.”

Good customer service today means having the right product in the right place, “and to do that, you have to understand your customer and you have to anticipate where they’re going to be, where they’re going to want it, and you have to have that right product mix close,” Kramer says.

Read Full Article: Retailers Must Become More Customer-Centric

5 Building Blocks For Retail Consumer Centric Success

Retail TouchPoints – Cross-Channel Demand Planning Drives Results For Aldo, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Groupe Dynamite And Others. Although 71% of retailers currently lack formal omnichannel planning processes, those that do are achieving gains, such as:

  • Aldo eliminated 95% of aged inventory;
  • Groupe Dynamite boosted automated replenishment to 80% of orders; and
  • Nebraska Furniture Mart made organizational shifts to support cross-channel collaboration rather than internal competition.

Download this white paper to find out how your company can benefit from an integrated retail optimization solution.


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However, retailers typically aren’t organized that way. So, when consumers cross channels during their shopping journeys, retailers have limited, silo-based visibility of available inventory. While the store might be out-of-stock, the e-Commerce distribution center may be in stock and able to ship that day. Avoiding out-of-stocks, backorders or delays in delivery requires both visibility and synchronization across all inventories to allow each channel the opportunity to meet demand and its financial targets. One channel is unable to meet demand for certain products, while excess inventory languishes in a separate, disconnected supply chain. The fact is, as many as 38% of retailers still plan their brick-and-mortar locations as an individual channel, according to BRP’s Merchandise Planning Survey 2016.

A collaborative, cross-channel planning solution is essential to enable retailers to look at inventory investments in aggregate, as well as in granular detail. This o ers better buying leverage and ensures there is one version of the truth, one plan for a business that can be served through multiple channels or across multiple regions. However, the BRP report found 71% of retailers currently lack such formal omnichannel demand processes.

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A more rapid  ow of allocations to the warehouse also helps the retailer satisfy consumers’ intensifying demand for faster deliveries. According to BRP’s Digital Commerce Survey 2017, the number of retailers offering same-day delivery has more than tripled over the past year, from 16% to 51%; and within two years, 65% plan to offer this service.

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Just 11% of retailers have integrated their planning teams across channels in a way that’s working for them, and only 9% are satisfied with their approach to integrated assortments, according to the BRP study. When retailers plan their businesses separately by channel, they confuse the customer and introduce ine ciency into planning, assortments and inventory.

Read full article: 5 Building Blocks For Retail Consumer Centric Success

Study: Outdated Planning Solutions Hamper Customer-Centricity

Retail TouchPoints – Retailers know that success in today’s environment requires them to align their systems and organizations around fulfilling customer-led demand. But outdated planning systems and the legacy of channel-specific inventories still present major stumbling blocks many retailers. Still, brands including Uniqlo, Zara andBonobos have solved some of these challenges, in part by more closely aligning customer data with planning systems.

In its 2017 Merchandise Planning Benchmark Survey, Boston Retail Partners (BRP) set out to gauge the current state of retail planning processes and systems, including merchandise planning, assortment planning and localization, store planning, allocation, omnichannel demand planning and space planning. “To innovate the customer experience, [retailers] must transform their disparate systems, processes and organization into one cohesive environment with the ability to offer customers a seamless shopping environment across any channel and the capability to deliver merchandise immediately — wherever it is needed,” according to the report.

The survey underscores the fact that there are still opportunities for better integration across channels — and the people, processes and technology to support them. “Customers use technology daily to enable and control their shopping journey,” said Gene Bornac, Senior Vice President of BRP in a statement. “Now it is up to retailers to play catch up with their organization, processes and technology to deliver the right products for the right price in the right place.”

Read Full Article: Study: Outdated Planning Solutions Hamper Customer-Centricity

Omnichannel Disconnect: Survey Shows Having a Strategy Doesn’t Always Result in Successful Execution

HFN – Retailers are acknowledging there’s a major gap between their expectations regarding an omnichannel plan and their ability to execute it.

As a new report from Boston Retail Partners (BRP) pointed out, retailers are increasingly focused on transforming their entire merchandising process and “customer-centricity” is a top strategic initiative for 47 percent of the retailers it surveyed.

Consumers “pre-shop” for merchandise online before they ever enter a store, want one-day or even same-day delivery and expect “more” from their shopping experience—more personalization, a larger assortment, a more fulfilling experience and non-stop entertainment, BRP’s 2017 Merchandise Planning Survey noted.

“Customers use technology daily to enable and control their shopping journey,” said Gene Bornac, senior vice president at BRP. “Now it is up to retailers to play catch up with their organization, processes and technology to deliver the right products for the right price in the right place.”

The BRP survey explores the current state of retail planning in an effort to identify and understand retailers’ priorities. The survey found 58 percent of retailers currently have an integrated planning organization across channels and 64 percent of them have integrated their business planning processes across channels.

In addition, 33 percent of retailers have implemented new omnichannel demand planning systems within the past two years. Forty two percent incorporate real-time customer feedback into their in-season planning.

Read full article: Omnichannel Disconnect: Survey Shows Having a Strategy Doesn’t Always Result in Successful Execution