IBP fashion retail

Budgeting, Planning & Forecasting

- 4 min read

Why is an Integrated Business Planning approach critical for fashion retail?

Few industries have felt the threat of new digital competitors as much as fashion and luxury retail over the past 20 years.  

Online-only players have proved that success in the industry no longer requires costly brick-and-mortar stores and the shopping experiences that come with them. It’s a disruption that’s caused a chain reaction among brands, encouraging manufacturers to sell directly to consumers and traditional brands to invest more in their digital storefronts. 

Of course, online competitors are far from the only disruption. Fashion retailers also face the challenge of new consumer concerns around sustainability and a widespread halt in spending due to COVID-19. In fact, 27% of US consumers said they plan to spend “somewhat” or “a lot” less on luxury and fashion items than before the pandemic.  

Combined, these challenges make it difficult for brands to stay static – they need to be ready to adapt at a moment’s notice and make quick decisions to stay ahead of the market. But that’s impossible when your planning and decision making is disconnected across your organization.  

Read on to find out why Integrated Business Planning (IBP) is so important today, and how you can overcome one of the most common barriers to achieving it.

The value of Integrated Business Planning in fashion retail

When facing fast-paced industry change, a siloed approach to planning can only take you so far. Many brands in the fashion retail industry still rely on disparate data and point solutions for planning and analytics – which often leads to miscommunication between departments, significant manual effort from teams, and a high risk of human error.  

This slow, outdated approach makes it challenging to deliver the quick and accurate insights management teams need to make strategic decisions and respond to the market.  

But IBP offers a solution. It’s a concept that unites strategic, financial, and operational planning to ensure C-level goals are visible across your organization and every team is working towards the same target. And with the right planning and analytics solution to support IBP, management will also gain a clear, 360° view of the organization, making it easier to encourage collaboration between departments. 

IBP is an approach to planning that’s helped leading sports brand Puma improve the accuracy and speed of forecasting to maintain its market position. Similarly, Italian lifestyle brand, Slowear, strategically manage its retail planning activities for increased efficiency with an IBP approach. 

However, despite the benefits, many brands are still slow to adopt an IBP solution – a recent survey revealed that only 16% of retailers said they have fully integrated planning processes.  So, what’s holding fashion and luxury retailers back from unified planning? 

The challenges facing Integrated Business Planning

When first approaching IBP, it can seem like there are a lot of hurdles to overcome – including the length of time projects take, a lack of resources, and an absence of the skills required to make projects successful. But importantly, these hurdles are easier to tackle than they seem. 

We explore each of these challenges in our eBook, but for now, let’s look at one of the most common objections we hear across the industry. 

Objection: Solutions are never easy to connect and sometimes the result can be poor. This means that cascading a target between departments can be prone to error – it’s easier to continue working in Excel files. 

Our advice: It’s understandable to be concerned about integrating different solutions. Awkward integrations can significantly impact data sharing and collaboration between team members. But that doesn’t mean you should become complacent with spreadsheets – they could be limiting your potential to make effective, business-changing decisions. 

That’s why we advise looking for a vendor that can provide a complete solution, rather than selecting the best modules from different vendors. By minimizing the number of front ends, databases, and interfaces, you’ll find it easier to create a completely integrated solution and you’ll need fewer specialist skills across your team. 

When you’re engaging with a vendor, challenge them to list the exact components and modules they’ll need to meet your demands – the fewer they list, the more integrated your final solution will be, and the smoother your workflows will be when it’s put into action.  

Unite planning across your organization 

We’ve only just scratched the surface of Integrated Business Planning. In our latest fashion retail eBook, explore 10 ways your business can drive digital transformation. You’ll also find a helpful checklist that you can use to find the right planning and analytics solution for your organization. It covers everything from collaboration and dashboarding capabilities to choosing between cloud and on-premises deployments.

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