retail technology merchandise planning


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Building a competitive advantage in retail: How technology is key to success

The retail industry has always been known for its fierce competition. With the rise of e-commerce, that competition has only intensified. Rather than be daunted by the challenge, we see retailers embrace it and utilize it as a kicking-off point for innovation and growth. By leveraging technology, these retailers optimize their planning, retain customers, and stay ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving retail landscape.  

From intelligent planning technologies to innovative data analytics, retailers are tapping into a range of tools that deliver seamless, personalized shopping experiences, sustainable and ethically sourced products, and convenient delivery options. In this blog, we will explore how these technologies tackle the key challenges in retail, shape the industry’s future, and help retailers to thrive. 

Challenges in the retail sector 

In the highly challenging world of retail, retaining customers is a crucial concern. With many options available to consumers, retailers must ensure that their products and services stand out. However, with supply chain disruption, financial pressures, and the need to meet ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) requirements, it becomes increasingly difficult for retailers to manage inventory, logistics, and delivery efficiency. 

The good news is that technology is key to success. In fact, many retailers are turning to the latest intelligent planning technologies to optimize their planning processes, reduce costs, and deliver a seamless consumer experience, even when the journey ahead is uncertain. Let’s explore four of these topics in more detail: 

1. Customer experience: Acquisition and retention

To stay competitive and retain customers, retailers must go beyond to provide exceptional customer experiences. This can be achieved through personalized offerings, which allow retailers to tailor their products and services to meet individual customers’ needs and preferences. Retailers must also provide seamless omnichannel experiences, allowing customers to shop in-store, online, or via mobile devices, depending on preferences.  

In a world where customers want to reduce spending, retailers must maximize their visibility and ensure a strong market presence. Many retailers are investing more in marketing and diversifying their sales channels to achieve this. Some are maintaining prices or introducing new or more frequent promotions. Others are launching new affordable services like take-back, resale, and rental options to help customers cope with rising costs.  

By leveraging the latest technology, retailers can stay ahead of the curve and deliver the experiences customers demand, helping them maintain their market position and grow their business. 

2. Visibility of supply chain and planning

Visibility across the supply chain and planning is key to effective inventory management and customer satisfaction. Retailers must have access to the right technology in supply chain management to track inventory, manage logistics, and ensure the timely delivery of products to customers.  

However, many retailers still need help to achieve this level of visibility. While some are on the right track, others claim they have limited or no visibility. This lack of transparency can be detrimental to retailers, making monitoring and improving sustainability and working conditions difficult.  

Intelligent planning platforms allow retailers to improve supply chain visibility and boost efficiency, helping them to stay competitive in a fast-paced industry. 

3. ESG compliance

In recent years, retailers have recognized the importance of ESG compliance as consumers demand more sustainable and ethical products. While many retailers are implementing sustainable practices to reduce waste and carbon emissions while providing responsibly sourced products, the report reveals that retailers primarily focus on the sustainability element of ESG. 

Interestingly, very few retailers are looking to invest in modern technology to help meet ESG regulatory standards. A notable lack of ESG data leaves retailers without they support they require ti integrate operational and planning decisions. Innovative technologies like modern intelligent planning systems can rectify this challenge. However, retailers are making strides in other areas, such as switching to renewable energy and evaluating their existing suppliers’ working conditions and environmental practices. This indicates that retailers are actively seeking ways to balance sustainability and competitiveness. 

4. Planning challenges

The retail industry constantly evolves, and staying competitive means overcoming several planning challenges, including assortment and product selection. However, many retailers face significant barriers to achieving a successful planning strategy – outdated legacy technology, evolving customer demands, and stock accuracy. This shows that retailers still need to roll out successful planning technology that can keep up with changing demand and demonstrate an accurate reflection of stock levels. Additionally, the cost-of-living crisis has emerged as a top concern regarding planning, creating even more complexity in predicting consumer behavior and spending habits during periods of financial hardship. 

To overcome these challenges and stay competitive, retailers turn to technology, such as AI and machine learning, to provide insights into consumer behavior and predict demand trends. Automation is also key for managing inventory, reducing stockouts, and avoiding overstocking. With data being crucial to predicting future outcomes, particularly during disruption, retailers invest in systems that enable them to access and analyze data effectively. 

By using the right technology, people, and processes, retailers can achieve greater visibility across their supply chains, optimize their planning, and provide a seamless shopping experience for their customers. 

Learn more in ‘The Merchandise Planning Challenge’ 

In the highly competitive world of retail, technology is critical to success. From intelligent planning to data analytics, retailers leverage various tools to deliver personalized shopping experiences, sustainable and ethical products, and convenient delivery options. While challenges in the retail sector abound, technology enables retailers to retain customers, manage inventory, and increase efficiency.  

With the right technology, retailers can achieve greater visibility across their supply chains, optimize their planning, and provide a seamless shopping experience for their customers. Discover how retailers harness technology to stay ahead of the curve and thrive. Check out the Retail Systems report to learn more. 

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The Merchandise Planning Challenge

How are retailers harnessing technology?