Second episode from Retail Journey podcast is published. Our Speaker is none other than Santhosh Aerabati, Principal Consultant of JDA Solutions. We bring his perspective on the need and practice of Retail Planning solutions.

Transcript of the conversation

What is Retail Planning?

When we talk about retail planning, it would comprise of planning for the right products, their placement inside the store, promotions around these products, and above all being able to forecast the requirement as per seasons.

Retailers usually plan in advance to woo and satisfy their customers.

How does retail planning shape up the retail business?

From Retailers perspective, first impressions are the best impression. Hence, it has to be good.

Retail planning practices such as Financial planning, buying, merchandising, pricing, marketing, store-level and supply chain plans were very effective till some time ago. But that’s not just enough. The shifting customer sentiment and expectations of an omnichannel experience have complicated the retail planning process today. Hence, it is important to consider customer preferences in retail planning.

What could be the cause for this disconnect between customers and retailers even after having a good retail plan in place?

Today, what the retailers are facing is a shopper who is dictating the terms of purchase to them. For example: “I want to buy this xyz product. I want through any channel of my choice. I’d like the order to be delivered to my doorstep. And, if suppose, I’m not satisfied, I want to return it at a local store.’’

The story continues much further when the customer has access to competitive information that helps them choose who to shop with. Primarily, retailers have to understand the customer’s specific needs and make an offer that makes sense.

This is a classic example of omnichannel shopping revolution. And this has been driving retailers’ nuts. They are forced to change their business model till they reach the tipping point after which, they are still not sure whether they have gained or lost a customer to competition.

What could be the reasons where retailers are going wrong with their current systems?

Existing retail planning solutions are generally, a patchwork of individual solutions stitched together to create an appearance of seamless workflow. It camouflages over unrelated databases with duplicate data.

I am very confident in saying that Traditional retail planning systems are not just enough because:

  1. Retailers are still working in silos rather than collaborating
  2. Location and Product-centric planning cannot be sole pillars of planning
  3. Spreadsheet planning is not enough. We need more visual planning systems

How can retailers overcome the bottlenecks and have a good retail planning solution in place?

The need of the hour is to have…

  1. Retail planning systems that start with the focus on customer along with products and locations.
  2. Bulky, intricate spreadsheets must give way to nimble, simple, highly visual solutions.
  3. Have the ability to generate insights and recommendations in real-time by using retail analytics

The foundational requirement for retailers as they move into personalized omnichannel retailing is to ensure the seamless integration of all channels and their supporting planning and execution processes.

At this critical juncture, retailers must quickly evolve by embracing next-gen solutions that are agile and attuned to the changing demands of the customer.

Could you suggest some of the best retail planning solutions available in the market?

There are many solutions in the market. But out of these, JDA Supply Chain and Retail Planning Solutions have been evolving with the times. I have worked with number of retailers and what I found was that JDA Retail Planning solutions like, Enterprise Planning, Category Management, Demand Planning, Allocation have been adding a lot of value to retailers.

Comments and questions are welcome. Thanks for listening. The Retail Journey podcast comes out every fortnight.

Retail Journey Podcast

Veena Gowda