Willy Rotstein on Planning Optimisation

Each time a merchandiser, buyer or planner in Retail makes a business decision around assortment, inventory, pricing and promotions there is an opportunity to improve both Profitability and Customer Service. Improving decision making, however, has always been a tricky business for retailers.  I have worked in this space for more than 15 years. I began my career as an academic, at Imperial College London, and then broadened this interest with Retailers, aiming to optimize their merchandising and supply chain decisions. Planning the business and optimizing profit is a complex process. The complexity arises from the variety of people involved, the large number of decisions to take across all business processes, the uncertainty intrinsic to the retail environment as well as the volume of data available for analysis.  Things are not getting any easier either. The advent of multi-channel, social media and mobile is taking these complexities to a new level and presenting additional opportunities for those willing to exploit them.

I guess it is due to the complexities of the decision making process that, over the last couple of years working with Oracle Retail, I have witnessed a clear trend around the deployment of planning systems. Retailers are aiming to simplify their decision making processes. They want to use one joined up planning platform across the business and enhance it with "actionable" data mining and optimization techniques. At Oracle Retail, we have a vibrant community of international retailers who regularly come together to discuss the big issues in retail planning. It is a combination of fashion, grocery and speciality retailers, all sharing their best practice vision for planning and optimizing merchandise decisions. As part of the Retail Exchange program, at the recent National Retail Federation event in New York, I jointly hosted a Planning dinner with Peter Fitzgerald from Google UK, Retail Division. Those retailers from our international planning community who were in New York for the annual NRF event were able to attend.

The group comprised some of Europe's great International Retail brands.  All sectors were represented by organisations like Mango, LVMH, Ahold, Morrisons, Shop Direct and River Island. They confirmed the current importance of engaging with Planning and Optimization issues. In particular the impact of the internet was a key topic. We had a great debate about new retail initiatives.  Peter highlighted how mobility is changing retail - in particular with the new "local availability search" initiative. We also had an exciting discussion around the opportunities to improve merchandising using the new data that is becoming available from search, social media and ecommerce sites.

It will be our focus to continue to help retailers translate this data into better results while keeping their business operations simple. New developments in "actionable" analytics and computing capacity make this a very exciting area today. Watch this space for my contributions on these topics which will be made available through this blog.

Oracle Retail has a strong Planning community. if you are a category manager, a planner, a buyer, a merchandiser, a retail supplier or any retail executive with a keen interest in planning then you would be very welcome to join Oracle Retail's Planning Community. As part of our community you will be able to join our in-person and virtual events, download topical white papers and best practice information specifically tailored to your area of interest. 

If anyone would like to register their interest in joining our community of retailers discussing planning then please contact me at willy.rotstein@oracle.com

 

Willy Rotstein, Oracle Retail

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