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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.

Retailers plan for blockbuster holiday season despite tariff overhang

Washington Examiner – Retailers are stocking their shelves to meet blockbuster holiday-shopping demand fueled by U.S. economic growth while preparing for slower sales next year as President Trump’s escalating tariffs drive up prices. The time from Halloween through Christmas is typically the most lucrative period of the year for companies from Macy’s to Pottery Barn and Target, and the retail industry is beginning to flourish after a long stretch of declining revenue as Amazon siphoned off customers.

Underpinning their growth is near-record U.S. consumer sentiment and unemployment close to a 50-year low. Wages are also starting to rise more rapidly, and last year’s GOP-led tax cuts let most Americans keep more of what they earn.

“We’re talking about a $1 trillion holiday season coming up,” Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners, retail consulting firm, told the Washington Examiner. “A lot of these guys do half their business in a two-month period. They’re losing money most of the year until they hit the fourth quarter.”

Read Full Article: Retailers plan for blockbuster holiday season despite tariff overhang

Why catalogs still have a hold on holiday marketing

Retail Dive – Many retailers have turned into fourth-quarter catalogers to cash in on the season’s sentimentality, while shoppers are crossing “irrelevant email marketing” off their lists this year.

Catalogs might be aimed at inspiration, but the hope is that the visual inspiration leads to a purchase, whether it be through the catalog, online or through a visit to the store. In that way, catalogs aren’t too different from the showroom format that retailers like Bonobos rely on, according to Ken Morris, a principal at Boston Retail Partners. It’s a trend he calls “catalog rooming” — where a customer uses a retailer’s holiday catalog to discover products and then heads into the store to see it in person and try it on, either finishing the purchase there or coming home to buy it online. 

It’s also a way to bring customers who might not have shopped in a while back into the fold, as retailers generally send out their holiday catalogs to a broader array of shoppers than they do the rest of the year. As long as they’re making $0.20 on every dollar they spend on a customer, the catalog will keep coming, Morris says — and the holidays provide more potential than the rest of the year for a big profit.

“Some of them, they’re in the red for nine months of the year and then the final three months of the year they go into the black and start to make a profit and hopefully that covers the loss,” Morris said, noting that depending on how sophisticated the retailer is, catalogs might also be tailored, placing a customer in one of a certain number of categories with different material in each. “It’s to the demographic that I fit into because they know what I buy — they know what’s in my closet, they know what’s in your closet.”

Read Full Article: Why catalogs still have a hold on holiday marketing

Selfridges ramps up menswear offerings with streetwear destination

Luxury Daily – British department store chain Selfridges is looking to attract both male and female shoppers with a menswear space devoted to high-end streetwear, leaning in to luxury fashion’s increasingly gender neutral, casual aesthetic.

Dubbed the “Designer Street Room,” the retail concept has found a home in the menswear department and was developed with brand mixing and cross-category shopping in mind, including luxury labels such as Gucci and Versace. Selfridges’ latest opening reflects consumers’ high-low shopping patterns, as they curate wardrobes that blend a bevy of brands.

“Selfridges understands that the shopping experience for designer streetwear is different than their typical Selfridges’ customer shopping experience,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at BRP, retail consulting firm. “The target audience for streetwear enjoys an immersive and social experience – they appreciate the theater of shopping.” Mr. Naumann is not affiliated with Selfridges, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

“Skateboarding is a common sport for streetwear consumers and creating a full-blown skate park within the Street Room is a clever way to capitalize on consumers passion for the sport,” Mr. Naumann said. “With other unique things to see and experience, such as the classic green and yellow Range Rover in the middle of the room, shoppers can continue to be entertained and surprised.”

“Selfridges’ customer base has a higher skew of older and more affluent consumers,” BRP’s Mr. Naumann said. “Streetwear is moving upscale into luxury brands and the Street Room concept is a great opportunity to attract younger audiences to Selfridges.”

Read Full Report: Selfridges ramps up menswear offerings with streetwear destination

What’s on the Menu?

Frozen and Refrigerated Buyer – Industry observers say consumers’ appetite for frozen foods will only grow in 2019. Key ingredients include e-commerce, premium private label, meal kits, small formats and targeted promotions.

2018 is shaping up to be a banner year for the frozen department. During the 52 weeks ended Aug. 12, reports Chicago-based market research firm IRI (iriworldwide.com), sales of frozen foods shot up 2.8% to more than $54.95 billion across channels, while volume rose 2.2%, as consumers gravitated to a slew of new offerings in categories like meals, pizza and veggies that better meet their needs.

Comments from Ken Morris:

Page 43-44:
Ken Morris, principal at BRP, retail consulting firm, tends to agree, calling Walmart “a much bigger threat” to traditional grocers because its stores can act as distribution centers for 90% of Americans who live within 10 miles of one. In addition, “Walmart continues to make it easier for busy consumers to buy online and pick up at the store or at free-standing kiosks or have items delivered to their homes. As these options become accepted and expected, most grocers are going to have to offer these same services to protect their sales — even for frozen and refrigerated items.”

Page 46:
“Consumers continue to spend more of their food dollars at restaurants,” explains Morris. “As more restaurants offer convenient pick-up and delivery options, they’ll pose an additional threat to retailers.” And then there are restaurants like Chick-fil-A that are dipping their toes into the meal kits business as well. In response, says Morris, grocers will likely need to add more prepared food options and continue to blur the lines between super- markets and restaurants.

Page 48:
Morris adds increased supply chain efficiency and technology enhancements to the list of margin enhancers. Topping Morris’ list of technologies (outside of e-commerce) most likely to gain traction in 2019 are those designed to minimize out of stocks by identifying potential problems in real-time so retailers can react before a bad customer moment occurs. Other technologies likely to take hold in the coming year include port- able self-checkout (not quite Amazon Go but a step in that direction), more European-style kiosks, and AI for difficult and/or labor-intensive activities like building ads or setting prices and offers.

Morris says the Amazon Prime program at Whole Foods is a great example of grocery promotion done right. “Promotions exist, but they’re truly invisible,” he says, citing the dawn of the customer-based pricing era. “Pricing used to by chain, then division, then zone, then store, and now it’s moving to the individual customer.”

Read Full Article: What’s on the Menu? (pages 42-48)

Outdoor retailers put down roots in used goods

Retail Dive – As with many trends, used goods and refurbishment programs lend themselves to certain retailers more than others. Outdoors retailers are one space where they’re growing, but electronics retailers are also well-known for having robust refurbishment and repair programs, mainly because so many of those products are both expensive to make and difficult to recycle, not to mention that they’re often made from valuable resources that must be mined and manufactured first.

While some retailers may have better margins than others when it comes to refurbishing goods and selling them to someone new, the financials are not often the biggest benefit retailers can derive from keeping products in circulation. According to David Naumann, vice president of marketing at Boston Retail Partners, retail consulting firm, the appeal for outdoor retailers, in particular, comes from a customer base that’s less interested in saving money and more interested in saving the environment.

“People are more often spending their retail dollars with companies that make them feel good about spending their money,” Naumann told Retail Dive in an interview. “Especially in the outdoors space: these people enjoy the outdoors and they want to protect the outdoors so those people are probably inclined to be more socially or environmentally conscious and look more positively on the retailers that are also embracing those environmental responsibilities.”

Read full article: Outdoor retailers put down roots in used goods

Everlane’s plastic-free pledge comes at a critical time for fashion and sustainability

Glossy – Everlane is the latest fashion brand to announce plans to remake its supply chain in a more sustainable way. At an event on Tuesday evening hosted by Everlane founder Michael Preysman, along with investors Natalie Massenet and Nick Brown, the brand announced that by 2021, it plans to completely eliminate the use of all non-recycled plastic in its products. As reported by Women’s Wear Daily, the event was also an occasion for Everlane to show off its ReNew blankets and fleeces, which are made with recycled plastic.

“Everlane’s commitment to be completely free of virgin plastics by 2021 is socially responsible, and it aligns well with the growing population of environmentally conscious consumers,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at BRP, retail consulting firm. “Many of these consumers are very passionate about the negative impact we are having on the environment.”

As customers become more conscious, brands that flagrantly disregard concerns for the environment risk appearing ignorant at best or callous at worst. Reducing fashion’s frankly terrible impact on the environment is not only a moral and ethical obligation, it can also be good business sense.

Read Full Article: Everlane’s plastic-free pledge comes at a critical time for fashion and sustainability

Free People launches in-house fragrance to test market opportunities in beauty

Glossy – With the launch of its first in-house set of fragrances, Free People wants a coveted place on the vanity.

The fragrances are free from synthetic ingredients, parabens, colorants and more, making it a clean perfume option. Currently, there is a dearth of fragrance options available at Free People, Richards said, adding that Free People’s own line helps fill a white space. Free People’s in-house scents join a burgeoning category of clean fragrance, alongside brands like Skylar Body and Phlur. Free People’s beauty and wellness offerings include crystals, sexual wellness, makeup, oral care and aromatherapy, and has grown from 395 SKUs at launch in 2016 to 1152 SKUs today.

Rather than partnering with a third-party manufacturer, Free People opted to develop its fragrance in-house by hiring a dedicated fragrance product developer to create brand equity, said Richards. “I didn’t want people to think we just found some juice and stuck on our name on the label,” she said.

That the company not only created the fragrance in-house but also owns the distribution rights helps with positioning it in the space, according to Erin Smith, a senior consultant at BRP retail consulting firm.

“If Free People releases this fragrance and is the sole distributor, I can’t go to Amazon to get it. I have to go online or in-store,” she said. “It’s an additional asset that they have; instead of sourcing goods and selling them, they now also have this other model where they produce products themselves, and that increases the value of the company.”

Read Full Article: Free People launches in-house fragrance to test market opportunities in beauty

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