Don't Become a Flat Squirrel
We were privileged to hear from two outstanding keynote speakers at Direct Tech's annual user conference last week in sunny, warm Orlando. (Please forgive my sigh; I'm back home in Wisconsin, where the current temperature is -10°.) One of them, Elaine Beaubien, an award-winning educator, entrepreneur, and business management and training coach, shared her observations on "innovating to survive" in a rapidly changing environment.
Elaine's talk, delivered to an audience of merchandise and inventory planners, centered on the critical need to embrace change. She spoke from firsthand experience as a successful 40-year educator who suddenly realized that she had become obsolete. Technology, systems and processes had all moved on without her. To continue to be relevant, she realized, she would have to master new tools and acquire new skills — and quickly.
The message is dead-on for inventory planners, who are grappling with adapting their planning processes to accommodate the explosion of marketing channels now available to retailers — e.g., internet, email, catalog, brick-and-mortar stores, wholesale, mobile, Amazon.com, flash-sale sites, and more. The difficulty is compounded by the number of (often overlapping) marketing events and seasonal promotions that impact each channel. Clearly, inventory planners must find a way to embrace and overcome the complexities of this emerging multichannel, multievent marketing world in order to deliver successful omnichannel inventory results.
Elaine also drew from personal experience when she talked about the need to retool. Late in her career, she went back to school to learn new technology and presentation skills that would enable her to be effective as a "distance educator," engaging with students via online media.
Inventory planners are at a similar retooling moment. Their business has changed and they too must evolve to keep pace. Those who continue to plan the same old way will find themselves running faster and faster, yet falling further and further behind.
As Elaine Beaubien reminded the audience as she wrapped up her presentation, "The highway of life is full of flat squirrels who couldn't make up their minds."
Don't be a flat squirrel. It's time to let go of the old, no-longer-relevant processes and embrace the new. Today's omnichannel world flat-out demands it.
Joe is Vice President of Product Solutions at Software Paradigms International (SPI), an award-winning provider of technology solutions, including merchandise planning applications, mobile applications, eCommerce development and hosting and integration services, to retailers for more than 20 years.
Joe is a 34-year veteran of the retail industry with hands-on experience in marketing, merchandising, inventory management and business development at multichannel retail companies including Lands’ End, LifeSketch.com, Nordstrom.com and Duluth Trading Company. At SPI, Joe uses his experience to help customers and prospects understand how to improve sales and profits through applying industry best practices in merchandise planning and inventory management systems and processes.