This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox.
Today’s customers expect to be able to shop across multiple physical and digital channels with ease. Recognising this, retailers are optimising their existing retail planning operations to ensure that they can reduce inventory, labour, transportation and other costs, yet still quickly provide products tailored to customers’ personal preferences via their chosen channels.
Many retailers are doing this by adopting unified retail planning systems that allow them to leverage all their data insights and support all processes – from store or warehouse replenishment to pricing and promotions planning – at every step of the supply chain. Choosing the right software, however, can be challenging. Sales pitches often contain buzzwords fuelled with the latest in machine learning and artificial intelligence, and retailers often find it difficult to understand the tangible benefits of each solution. However, there are several easy steps they can follow.
First, for new software to add value, it must be integrated into the retailer’s existing technology landscape, so involving the right business stakeholders and including the IT team from the outset is a must. Retailers should then identify their objectives, quantify their business case and outline how they will drive measurable value from the solution. They can seek vendors’ input on which solutions best suit their requirements and ask how they typically measure return on investment for clients.
When it comes to choosing between different solutions, retailers should focus on use case scenarios, rather than features and functions. Retailers must create a list of expectations and ask vendors to demonstrate their recommended approach based on experience and best practices. Asking for relevant customer references early in the process is essential.
To retain a competitive edge as the retail landscape evolves, retailers must look for a solution that fulfills their current business needs but more importantly that gives them potential to grow and adapt. Vendors should be able to ensure their software is easily adapted and be able to share their technology roadmaps and strategic focus areas so retailers can see what new capabilities they can unlock in the future.
Most importantly, success lies in retailers building a strong partnership with the vendor. Retailers should allow vendors to draw on their knowledge and experience to share suggestions and make the project as successful as possible.
Finding the right vendor and the right retail planning software empowers retailers to reduce costs while maximising product availability and a tailored customer offering. Retailers using Relex solutions, for example, significantly reduce waste, increase the availability of relevant stock, optimise sales opportunities and boost operational and employee efficiency.
Kristie Davison is a sales manager at RELEX Solutions
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