The Parker Avery Group recently concluded an assortment planning project covering common phases of a system implementation—design, build, test, train, organizational change management (OCM), and sustainment. We faced expected challenges such as gaining consensus on requirements, sticking to decisions, and varying approaches to designing a limited set of reports—all while maintaining an environment of positivity on a project that had plenty of ups and downs.

Take 5: A Return to Retail Roots

As a project team, we are quite firm in our approach to user acceptance testing (UAT). On this project, we pulled merchants and planners out of their jobs for 5 two-hour sessions per week for five straight weeks. These UAT sessions were not optional, and we received leadership alignment that this level of testing was necessary for quality results. We wrote detailed test scripts that were provided to merchants and planners, and they were required to complete them all and mark tests as passed or failed. Tests were performed multiple times by multiple people to ensure consistent results.

Knowing we’d (essentially) be locking people in a room for extended periods of time, I took on the role of Chief Merchant, Planner, Allocator, and Inventory Control for a highly critical task: snack procurement. I took this job very seriously, as I was facilitating assortment planning testing with the merchants and wanted them to be comfortable. There was also another consultant facilitating the item planning UAT sessions with planners—this individual was in a different building and responsible for that team’s snacks.

To anticipate the needs by week, I started with a simple demand forecasting model so I could ensure there were ample amounts and budgeted appropriately. I also wanted to find a local supplier of product that was broad and deep enough to meet our needs. The grocery store was perfect.

Ready for some retail math? Let’s go!

Assuming 15 students and 25 sessions, I anticipated the “average per student” (APS) of each snack type in each session. This gave me the total demand per category. Then, after scouting out the supplier, I took a rough estimate of the number of pieces per bag/box to get the total number of cartons necessary. With an average price per carton, the total cost could be calculated. This was then divided by the number of weeks so I’d know how many bags I would need to purchase weekly, as well as the expected cost.

APS Demand Pcs/Bag Bags $/Bag Ttl Cost Bags/Wk Cost/Wk
Salty 1.0 375 24 16 $4.00 $64.00 3 $12.00
Sweet 2.0 750 36