In the face of the increasing consumer demands, today’s leading retailers are reviewing and re-planning their future strategies today in order to succeed in tomorrow’s marketplace. Difficult questions need to be answered: how to reduce inventory but offer a broad product range; how to reduce delivery times and customer convenience without increasing costs; how to reduce store-size but increase in-store visits and crucially, how to create a seamless shopping experience across all channels.
Long term planning
Integrated Business Planning is recognised by an increasing number of retailers for its power in providing the senior executive team with an accurate and holistic view of the business over a 24-to-36-month forward view, thus improving long-term decision-making and delivering the business goals. It is being used by some of the best in business to handle the transition into a 21st century omni-channel organisation, so they are capable of meeting fluctuating demand, adapting to fast-moving trends and seasonal variations, managing campaigns and promotions and attracting customers with innovative products and services; all according to the brand objectives and strategic direction of the business.
Retailers have a reputation for sophistication in the way they manage the short-term, often sitting with suppliers’ demand planners to collaborate on forecasts. However, because the behaviour of consumers and retail landscape have changed so fundamentally, retailers are learning from the longer-term planning of their own suppliers. At the same time, suppliers are trying to get closer to the source of the demand signal in planning their own forecasts; i.e. the consumer themselves, and who knows the consumer better than the retailer? This is leading to a much more authentic collaborative partnerships between the two parties.
Integration across all channels and customer touch points
Championing a cross-organisational, integrated approach, Integrated Business Planning is the perfect fit for a sector reliant on unifying the customer experience. Undoubtedly, there is a need to integrate all customer touch points across stores and digital devices, underpinned by an ingrained data model, integrated processes and systems across POS, order management and consumer service and data to ensure that all customer interactions are personalised and relevant across all channels.
Integrated Business Planning provides the perfect platform for retailers to innovate, creating opportunities to drive sales up and costs down, and allocate resources to the most productive activities, in the most profitable way. Not only does it facilitate the prediction of new trends but also enables retailers to respond positively to changing conditions in plenty of time. With Integrated Business Planning, retailers can turn challenges into opportunities.
Retailers have to commit to creating the best customer experience to attract and retain business. This is an endless endeavour, propelled by an on-going process of change and continuous improvement across the entire business. It’s not only a case of maintaining operational agility, but also adapting to an ever-changing customer perspective of what service excellence really means. With its ability to interpret short-term signals and provide instantaneous insights, Demand Sensing provides real-time consumer insights to enable organisations to immediately detect and respond proactively to changes in demand within the execution window. By leveraging analytics and the latest mathematical algorithms, it creates an accurate picture of changing demand, based on the current realities of customer behaviour. These early indicators allow retailers to react in the moment, responding accurately and efficiently to create an ever-improving customer experience. They’re levers which ignite actions to real-time signals or responses of customers and with lightning-fast reactions, companies improve customer service and increase sales revenue. But this is only possible with an integrated, end-to-end supply chain.
Optimisation of systems, processes and behaviours needs to ripple all the way through the organisation, to generate loyalty and digital engagement, thus ensuring profitable growth. This includes everything from demand planning, merchandising and brand management, to product development, real estate management and supply chain optimisation. Integrated Business Planning equips retailers with the means to deliver excellent customer service, protection against uncertainty and value-chain profit-to-serve, all supported by collaborative competitiveness across the supply chain. In the near-term, Demand Sensing provides the fine-tuning tool organisations need to deliver the optimised plan, and with suppliers keen to work more closely with their retail counterparts, retailers stand in good stead to be fit for the future