Earlier today, Parker Avery sent out our quarterly newsletter – Retail Advisor – which features industry news, events and resources.  Below you will find an excerpt of the newsletter, a note from our leadership. We encourage you to sign-up for the newsletter by emailing us at: newsletter@parkeravery.com

The carefree (and hot) days of summer are quickly coming to an end, with many of us squeezing in final days of vacation before children head back to school. As a retailer, this means several things:

  • If you have a “back-to-school” business, then your assortment is locked and loaded, whether in stores, in your fulfillment center, perhaps even already in consumer’s shopping carts.
  • For holiday shopping, more than likely your near-final inventory positioning, allocation and related activities are well underway, along with marketing and promotional plans.
  • Finally, if you’re one of the lucky few to have “summer hours” on Fridays, enjoy them while you can, as Labor Day is just around the corner.

Aside from the summer hours comment, everything else, as always in retail, is dependent on “The Product.” Regardless of store plans, allocation, fulfillment, marketing, etc., if you don’t have the right assortment, all else is moot. Besides actual product design, or finding and buying the right product, the most important, and typically one of the most difficult retail activities, is planning the assortment.

Why is this so? Why does it seem so difficult at times, and why does it seem when retailers discuss Assortment Planning that they are speaking different languages with each other? A few reasons include:

  • Assortment Planning makes Merchandise Financial Planning look easy. It is much more than just planning department / class and dollars – it requires intimate knowledge across the product categories, store space, target consumers, price points, supply chain implications and more.
  • Resource needs are different than most merchants and most planners. Assortment Planning often requires a “hybrid” skill set.
  • There is at times ambiguity involved. For example, having a placeholder for a style to be determined later – typical processes and systems don’t easily handle this requirement.
  • Not all retailers are created equal. Fashion apparel retailers likely have the biggest challenge, while retailers with multi-channel variations, international assortment needs and other complexities present other unique Assortment Planning challenges. 

Taking the pain – and opportunity – one step further, the value of Assortment Planning done correctly drives both sales and inventory effectiveness, potentially delivering significant benefits to a retailer’s top and bottom lines.
Over the next few months, we will share with you our thoughts and perspectives on Assortment Planning and clustering, including the latest trends and key considerations, in order to prepare you to effectively execute Assortment Planning in your enterprise. We will share our experience in upcoming Points of View articles, and will also be sharing the results of our Assortment Planning research study, which closes at the end of August. We welcome your perspectives on the subject; here’s a link to participate if you haven’t yet had a chance: Assortment Planning Study.

Enjoy these final days of summer. If you’d like to discuss any of your upcoming merchandising or other retail initiatives, please don’t hesitate to us.