Markdown Mania: A Symptom of the Wrong Product at the Wrong Price
February 20, 2017 at 9:05 am

The retail industry is facing an epidemic. As retailers continue to use markdowns to entice shoppers and drive traffic into stores, consumers are becoming increasingly price sensitive, leading them to expect sales at every turn. A recent study by First Insight took a deeper dive into the expectations of consumers, finding that 70 percent need…

The Value of Allocation Accuracy
January 9, 2017 at 10:06 am

It’s among the most frustrating parts of retailing: You built a strong assortment plan. Great product mix. Good margin. Customer response is better than you had hoped for. You're ready for an outstanding selling season. Yet the allocation process drops the ball. Too many large dresses in store A while the racks are empty in…

Increase Margins With Predictive Localized Analytics
October 28, 2016 at 12:43 pm

As I go through the discovery process with prospective SPI customers, there's a moment in almost every engagement when one of the planners or allocators shows their current multitab, multidimension, multipivot table, holographic (OK, I exaggerated on the last point) homegrown Excel spreadsheet. It always impresses. I'm genuinely in awe of the complex usage of…

2016 Holiday Retail Expectations: A Surprisingly Sunny Outlook
September 23, 2016 at 9:21 am

It’s been a rough year for retail. The department store model has derailed into irrelevance, traditional brick-and-mortar stores have had to make massive investments in e-commerce, and customers’ needs have continued to change at breakneck speed. Despite some surprising (and some not so surprising) developments across the industry, the majority of retailers are looking forward…

Top Retail Trends of 2016
May 24, 2016 at 9:51 am

I recently received a really interesting whitepaper titled "The Top 10 Retail Trends For 2016" from Synchrony Financial that included a list of the top 10 technology, marketing and consumer trends that Synchrony predicts will have an impact on retail sales in 2016. Here are five of the key trends highlighted. Are any of them affecting…

Why Planning Systems Must Be Priority for Retailers
May 11, 2016 at 8:55 am

It’s no surprise to learn that retailers are in a rapid investment period in terms of IT systems. Historically slow to invest in technology, retailers are now playing catchup in an arena that punishes slow-movers. A retail CIO is faced with the daunting challenge of solving a myriad of complex issues fast, including: delivering the…

Barnes & Noble CEO: Focus on Experiences vs. Price
February 24, 2016 at 10:51 am

Retailers today have to differentiate themselves with experiential products and services, since most can no longer win on price. This was the key message delivered by Ron Boire, CEO of Barnes & Noble (B&N), during a fireside chat with James Green, CEO of Magnetic, during a session at eTail West yesterday. During the chat, Boire…

What Does ‘Soon’ Mean for Inventory Planners
September 22, 2015 at 10:09 am

A highlight of my year is the annual Direct Tech (now SPI) User Conference. (SPI acquired Direct Tech earlier this year.) This event brings together SPI clients for three days to network with their peers, learn more about SPI software applications and services, and discuss best practices related to merchandise and inventory planning. This year’s…

What Do Predictive Analytics Mean for Inventory Planners?
August 3, 2015 at 2:02 pm

One of the buzz phrases that's surfaced with merchandise and inventory planning systems over the last few years is “predictive analytics.” At its simplest, the term reflects the fact that data processing capabilities have advanced to the point where they don’t simply generate operational reports and ask the user to interpret information. They're now capable…

Inventory is At the Heart of Omnichannel Retail Success
June 23, 2015 at 2:47 pm

As many readers of this blog know, I've been working with Direct Tech, a 26-year-old provider of merchandise and inventory planning tools for direct-to-consumer retailers, for the last few years. Earlier this year, Direct Tech was acquired by Software Paradigms International (SPI), a 20-year-old provider of IT solutions to brick-and-mortar retailers. It’s exciting to be…