There is no debate that technology has revolutionized the way we shop. AI-driven sensors offer personalized product recommendations, cashier-less stores let us shop without the tedium of checkout lines and augmented reality helps shoppers virtually try out products before buying online. Whether buying a gallon of milk or a wedding dress, technology has transformed our buying behaviors.
For the retail industry, this explosion of new technologies has kicked off a massive transformation that has been anything but simple. Traditional retailers must constantly reinvent their business model or face extinction amid the newest wave of insurgent brands and e-commerce powerhouses.
And it’s not just the “Amazon effect.” Consumer tastes are changing, shopper journeys cut across channels, and a greater emphasis is now placed on sustainable products and practices. The rate of change continues to accelerate, and many retailers are struggling to operate in this constant state of reinvention. In 2019 alone more than 9,300 brick and mortar stores were shuttered, a new record for the industry.
To thrive amid today’s so-called “retail apocalypse” retailers are investing heavily in consumer-facing, front-of-house improvements. But experts say it’s the transformation of back-office business operations that ensure retailers can react, respond and compete in the future.
“Think about the time retailers spend behind the scenes selecting the right assortments, stocking shelves, fulfilling orders and managing shipments, inventory and returns,” said Ara Gopal, head of industry solutions at Anaplan. “If these foundational processes are not digitally transformed to handle rapid and frequent change, even the best consumer-facing technologies will do little to protect against costly operational missteps, leaving retailers unable to capitalize on their digital investments.”
Prioritizing consumer-facing technologies means many retailers leave the management of their business processes to manual spreadsheets or legacy solutions that lack the sophistication to optimize highly complex and nuanced processes. Retailers are then more vulnerable to inefficiencies, and their employees are stuck managing manual processes instead of driving innovation. As a result, the investments in consumer-facing technologies risk not being deployed effectively—or at all—increasing the possibility of customers defecting to the competition.
To master change amid today’s uncertain market and disruption, retailers are turning to Connected Planning to transform into a truly digital enterprise. By creating a single source of truth for merchants, buyers, suppliers, finance and store teams, Connected Planning fosters collaboration across departments and provides retailers with complete, end-to-end visibility into performance, inventory and financial data.
After implementing Connected Planning, one CPG company realized a 100% return on investment in less than a year, and can now almost instantly tell how changes in inventory plans affect other items in production. This transparency allows decision-makers to respond quickly to the accelerated rate of change impacting the sector at large and bring innovations to market faster.
With increased operational efficiencies, employees have more time to focus on enhancing the customer experience and bolstering brand affinity and loyalty among consumers.
“Digital transformation is not a one-time event, and for retailers especially, it demands ongoing reinvention,” said Gopal. “Connected Planning provides retailers with the foundations needed to not only sustain, but master change so they can truly deliver the results that digital innovation promises.”
The pace of change in the retail industry is likely to continue in 2020, driven by an increased focus on digitization of brick-and-mortar and channel-agnostic business models. Connected Planning can empower retailers to be proactive rather than reactive, arming decision makers with the time and insights needed to drive innovation at scale and deliver real value to employees and customers. As one planning executive at a leading outdoor apparel brand noted about Connected Planning, “We can drive the business forward instead of trying to find out what the business is doing.”