The complex nature of the retail industry, with multiple business models and the rise of omni-channel sales, has left many retailers struggling to respond to customer demand and competitive challenges.
We helped our client, a leading global retailer targeting parents and young children, transform its planning and trading capabilities by introducing a single, global merchandise planning tool to better plan sales, stock and intake across the group.
As with many retailers, given the economic climate of the last 10 years and the prioritisation of .com investment, there had been little investment in planning capabilities to support growth and deliver the customer promise. The introduction of Oracle’s Retail Merchandise Planning System, and the processes and ways of working associated with this, delivered a significant set of improvements:
- Improved control and phasing of stock.
- Improved visibility and control over sales and margin.
- Reduced markdown.
- Consistent ways of working.
- Improved alignment between product and channel teams.
To achieve the client’s objectives we started with a set of ‘Direction Setting Questions’ to foster alignment and buy in from the senior leadership, giving us a clear design framework. We followed this with a series of ‘quick wins’ to instil faith in the commercial teams and minimise day-to-day frustrations
By blending key business and IT resources to drive business ownership and leadership, as well as continually challenging the balance of sophistication versus complexity, we ensured that the new tools would be adopted by the merchandising teams. We also built business change capability into the heart of the programme to support and manage ongoing change, making the business more agile and adaptable.
Whilst the tangible benefits of reduced markdown, reduced stockholding and improved margins are far from insubstantial, the business benefits from improved planning capabilities, better visibility and a consistent way of working mean that the programme and its legacy has primarily been about people transformation. The result is that our client has a more commercially driven business, fit for the future with more accurate plans and greater trading flexibility to react and respond to change.