Thanksgiving should be a holiday for all of us to take a much needed breather and spend some quality time with our friends and family. But if you work in retail, what should be a holiday usually turns into early mornings, late nights, or no vacation at all. In order for customers to shop on Black Friday, it takes others to leave their holiday early to stock shelves, man registers, or be on call for those on the front lines. Even the corporate office doesn’t get a break; if one store is open, there is someone back at the office too. With more stores open on Thanksgiving Day, more and more of us have to cut our holiday short.
Chinese New Year: Its Coming, Is Your Supply Chain Ready?
Chinese New Year starts on February 8, 2016. Most retailers are familiar with Chinese New Year because every year their Chinese suppliers and factories shut down for a few weeks. Chinese New Year is a huge celebration for China and many surrounding countries. Workers head home for a much deserved vacation that can last 4 weeks or more, leaving quiet offices and empty factories. That means nothing is shipping and that can result in empty shelves or managing the cost of overstocks- if your Inventory Replenishment software bought the right products.
“Omni-channel” is a big buzz word in retail right now. Everyone wants to be “Omni-Channel”. The reasoning for an omni-channel approach is sound. For marketing and merchandising, customers see the same messaging, items, and pricing across all platforms. For inventory and order fulfillment, customers have access to all of your inventory, from stores to DCs.
Omni-Channel is No Cure, Is it Even Symptom Relief?
There are so many advantages to Omni-Channel retailing. But while omni-channel order fulfillment can help you take care of your customers and clear some inventory problems, it can also hide flaws in your demand forecasting system and in your supply chain. Much like over-the-counter cold medicine, omni-channel fulfillment can relieve the symptoms of an ailing replenishment system temporarily, but it can’t cure the underlying problem. Like the common cold, there are many with the ‘magical’ cure but the question you should ask is how did they make the cure if they wrote their base code more than 5 years ago…98% of software is in that category…and all most software does is relieve the symptoms, not a real cure.
Lead Time is an important factor in any demand-driven forecasting or retail replenishment system. It drives your order points and helps you place orders at just the right time. If your lead time is inaccurate you will quickly find yourself overstocked or understocked. Are you making these common lead time mistakes that cost retailers millions?
Wonder What Happens Next in this Slow Moving Scene?
I call them “heartbeat” products. Every Retailer and Manufacturer has them. The slow or niche products that don’t sell every day but are still vital to your business. If you charted their sales history, it would look like a heart monitor, up one week, down the next, up and down, up and down. No gentle seasonal curves here, just jagged peaks and deep valleys. You never know week to week if you are going to sell none or a hundred. Often expensive, well-managed heartbeat products can be valuable sales drivers. Poorly managed heartbeat products can eat up your profits and burn holes in your open to buy. So how do you maximize sales and lower your inventory on these slow movers?
Lost Sales are just a KPI, Right?!?
Lost sales are a perpetual worry for all retailers. If your shelves are empty, customers go home empty-handed, and you won’t make your sales plan. Most replenishment systems and demand forecasting systems offer a lost sales calculation to help retailers manage this key business problem. But is your lost sales calculation actually helping you as much as you thought? Are you still watching sales slip through your fingers and wondering why?
Is Your Inventory Optimization Solution Actually Leading to Profits?
The Inventory Optimization link in your chain is a critical piece to increase profit. How much inventory do you carry to meet future service goals without overstock and high carrying costs? How often should you reorder, acquisition costs like inventory carrying costs will reduce profits. Your inventory optimization solution needs to balance how much to carry, how often to reorder, demand rates, gross profits, pick quantity, supplier minimum, and business rules with a methodology (the math) that maximizes your profits while minimizing your risks.
What Do You Really Know about Demand Driven
Demand Driven sounds impressive doesn’t it? Sales and marketing people keep saying you need to be ‘Demand Driven’ and let’s be honest, most marketing and sales folks are like politicians, they can say a lot that sounds amazing but do very little to support their message or meaning. To understand the importance of Demand Driven, you need to identify what is true and what is false about Demand Driven concepts, otherwise the Buzz Term Demand Driven just becomes a Buzz Kill.
Is Your Inventory Replenishment Software Working?
When you have out of stocks and overstocks at the same time, the question you need to ask is Do You Need better Inventory Replenishment Software? Inventory Replenishment is a critical link in your chain. Ask yourself, is your current inventory replenishment software delivering the best service levels to match your customer demand? Does your inventory replenishment software maximize profitability with inventory optimization technology to create purchase orders? Do your automated Purchase Orders minimize inventory to carry only what is needed to meet service goals and still meet supplier shipping requirements? Do your users have tools on the Purchase Order pages to aid the Purchase Order approval and exception management processes? If not, then why not, what are you losing to your competition every day you do nothing?
Promotions are Huge, That Doesn’t Mean Inventory Should Be
You’re very familiar with the importance of promotions, how they can make or break sales figures for the quarter or even the year. But an extremely successful promotion brings to light a challenge: Inventory Replenishment. While we often think of general retail for sales events to model, it is the grocery industry and their weekly promotions that highlight the pain in the promotion link of a supply chain. Let’s take a look at the root of the problem, and how the challenge can be overcome with ingenuity and technology to give you an edge over your competition.