While retailers are focused on unified commerce, most retailers’ planning tools are not capable of supporting this digital environment.
This message was revealed in Boston Retail Partners’ “2016 Merchandise Planning Survey,” a report based on responses from more than 500 North American retailers. The report delivers insight into retailers’ planning initiatives, priorities and future trends.
Many issues continue to stymie retailers’ efforts to create an efficient and effective omnichannel environment, including current organizational roadblocks; ineffective or unintegrated planning applications, and a lack of business intelligence tools to support the increasingly complex analysis of big data — a pre-requisite for companies eager to optimize planning decisions and meet customer demand.
“While unified commerce is the desired model to which most retailers strive, planning organizations are struggling with the current lack of system, process and organization integration to support the necessary model,” said Gene Bornac, VP at Boston Retail Partners (BRP).
Specifically, 71% of companies do not have formal omnichannel demand planning processes. While 44% of retailers have integrated planning teams, 86% of these groups and related efforts are in need of improvement. Finally, 38% of companies still create brick-and-mortar plans independently of digital channels, the report shared.
These details prove that integration is remains a struggle for many companies, and this challenge runs deep. For example, 70% of companies have integrated planning business processes across channels, yet 83% need improvement. Meanwhile, 53% have integrated planning systems across channels, but 77% need to be improved, the study said.
The good news is companies are making progress in turning the tide. Improving analytics is a top priority among 44% of retailers, while 41% of companies plan to upgrade their omnichannel demand planning systems within two years, the study said.
“The good news is that retailers recognize that there is a problem and there are a number of very good tools available to address the current planning needs,” Bornac said. “The bad news is that getting the budget and resource commitments to upgrade systems is a huge challenge.”