3 ways merchandise lifecycle management must evolve in a post-pandemic world
Guest Post: Dave Sheekey, Director, Solution Principal, Merchandise Lifecycle Management, Aptos
The pandemic made 2020 a radically different year for almost everyone. For retailers, a lot of what they knew about merchandise lifecycle management went out the window as shopping behaviors changed dramatically, and busy stores gave way to a surge in online and mobile commerce.
The pandemic’s long-term effects on shopping habits remain to be seen. Whatever happens ultimately, there’s bound to be a period of flux as lockdowns around the world are lifted, and we all adapt to the new normal. But what do all these changes mean for the merchandise lifecycle? What steps do retailers need to take to stay on their feet now, and propel their business into the future?
Here at Aptos we recommend three key changes to merchandise lifecycle management that can help retailers adapt to — and capitalize on — the post-pandemic shopping landscape.
Recommendation 1. You can’t overestimate the importance of accurate, efficient inventory management
Every piece of inventory in your ecosystem matters more now than ever before. While regional lockdowns persist in some form or other, stores continue to have limited access to inventory, and a reduced ability to serve customers. So every sale you’re able to make is critical to your survival.
If a customer wants to buy an item in a particular size or color, but the store doesn’t have it in stock, what happens next? The right size or color might be languishing in the back room of another branch, but if you have no way of knowing that, the opportunity to make the sale will be lost.
As lockdowns begin winding down in various regions, there’s reason to be hopeful that customers will come back into stores with a renewed inclination to buy — a big bounce is anticipated as some people go ‘revenge shopping,’ while others may have stimulus checks or savings to spend. At that point, fulfilling every sale will be critical to maximizing growth.
In both scenarios, making as many sales as possible depends on having accurate, up-to-date information about your inventory availability, from in-transit to the backroom of every one of your stores.
More agile allocation
While getting allocations right has always been a priority, the volatility of current circumstances makes it even more important. Of course, allocations have always had to reflect local conditions (including inventory positions) to ensure the right units go into the right stores. Now, however, you have to keep on top of changing national and regional lockdown conditions, too. So if one of the countries where you operate is heading into lockdown, you’ll do better allocating more units to your stores in countries where lockdowns are ending.
For many, the days of 12-month advance planning cycles are over and done with. For allocation activity to be as agile as it needs to be today, your merchandise and assortment plans must have access to near-real-time sales and inventory results by location. This will allow you to dynamically review and adjust those plans based on up-to-the-minute insight into the conditions in each channel and location.
Stay tuned for our second recommendation: Why it’s time to digitalize the entire product lifecycle.
In the meantime, learn more about the Aptos Merchandise Lifecycle Management solution and how it can help you adapt to — and thrive in — today’s unpredictable retail landscape.
To find out how Aptos can help your retail operation, click here.
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