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3 Reasons to Implement Strategic Retail Planning in 2018

by Vanguard Software

There’s no doubt that consumers love a personalized shopping experience, and there are many aspects of this experience that you can automate. In fact, based on expected trends, those who do not automate certain aspects of their retail business will likely suffer.

It’s 2018; you can no longer rely on the concept “build it and they will come.” You need to understand your business inside and out so that you can plan accordingly.

Retail is evolving — Don’t get left behind

You may be building a brand that customers love, but are you taking advantage of every opportunity?

As a retailer, you know that this can be a challenging, ever-changing industry. Some concerns that retailers face include:

  • Not fully understanding the needs of their customers
  • Not being able to effectively drive profitability
  • Experiencing an overall lack of insight in terms of business planning

If you do not currently have access to the right type of data, your retail planning could fall short. The good news? It doesn’t need to be this way.

Reasons to focus on retail planning this year

To plan effectively for the year, you will need to lean on technology. Make the following small changes to see a BIG difference.

1. Manual sales planning is a thing of the past

You may already collect data, but are you applying it in the right manner? By implementing statistical forecasting, you will be able to better determine the key variables that influence profitability. For example, did a certain event or promotion cause sales to surge?

Statistical forecasting will automatically process this type of information, offering you valuable data in the form of patterns and predictions. Not only is this option more efficient, it’s much more accurate. This can help you adjust pricing, optimize inventory, and make more informed decisions.

2. Personalization is effective

As a retailer, you rely on your customers — but this relationship is a two-way street. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your customers provide you with plenty of information based on their purchasing and browsing behavior. This is true for both off-line and online retailers.

The more personal you make your customer’s experience, the more defined your customer profile will become. This will allow you to spot and respond to current trends and demands in real time. You can even run “what-if” testing scenarios based on the information you collect.

At the end of the day, your customers are a community of people who share similar interests. Truly understand and tend to this community and your business will thrive. Lean on your POS system to better understand your customers so that you can predict what they need.

3. Utilize machine learning

In 2018, you can take your business beyond big data and into the world of machine learning. This lets you unlock insights in real time. Whether your goal is to address supply chain optimization or improve inventory management, it can easily be achieved.

Artificial intelligence can help you leverage unstructured data. After all, customer demographics and needs change over time. Just some of the benefits of machine learning include:

  • Accurately recommend a product or service
  • Determine key pricing variables, based on supply, demand, and even seasonality
  • Improve promotional planning
  • Incorporate predictive analytics, driving revenue growth

It’s time to rethink the way you approach your business. When you have access to quality information, planning becomes a breeze.

About Vanguard Software
Vanguard Software introduced its first product for decision support analysis in 1995. Today, companies across every major industry and more than 60 countries rely on Vanguard Software’s Integrated Business Planning (IBP), forecasting and advanced analytic cloud platform. Vanguard Software is based in Cary, North Carolina.

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