The traditional retail and merchandise planning process is conceptually straightforward: identify what to sell, to whom, at what price, and then ensure the product is where it needs to be on time. This is simple in concept but challenging to execute. With customers demanding immediate gratification, it becomes even more difficult to plan and manage effectively. Fortunately, there are merchandise planning technology tools available in the marketplace to support advanced planning that incorporates customer insights and trends, cross-channel integration, competitive information, and real-time data.
However, technology is only a part of the solution. To truly offer customers a seamless experience across all channels requires integration and alignment of the organization and processes to support a technology solution. But despite progress, there are still many retailers that plan channels individually and maintain separate assortments and inventories for different channels. Brick-and-mortar teams largely operate independently from e-commerce teams and vice versa. There are still opportunities for better integration across channels – and the people, processes and technology to support them – to enable the expected holistic customer experience.
Within this challenging environment BRP conducted its 2017 Merchandise Planning Benchmark 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.