Last week, 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 

August is already upon us, and for many, this means summer vacations are wrapping up and back-to-school shopping is in full swing – at least from the perspectives of consumers and store operations personnel. Right now, in the corporate offices and halls of retailers, all focus is on the 2017 holiday season. We recently blogged about the impact Amazon’s recent Prime Day could have on this year’s holiday shopping behaviors (and retail results), and we outlined some key tenets to help make the season as joyous and prosperous as possible. I’d like to expand on these themes…namely focusing on critical activities around assessing, preparing, and communicating for retail holiday success.

Assess. One element here involves determining what your best existing – and potential – customers want to buy and how they want to shop: essentially assortment planning and consumer touch points. Now and longer term, retailers must leverage the vast amounts of data they have already accumulated, coupled with advanced analytics to understand and anticipate consumer desires. Assessing also means using historical and forecasted data to offer the best pricing scenarios and promotions that resonate with shoppers, yet maintain internal margin objectives. Lastly, retailers must comprehend their target consumers’ varied lifestyles and schedules so they can design and offer multiple ways of delivery and fulfillment, yet minimize any burdens on both customers and store/DC personnel.

Prepare. Using the outputs of assessment, sufficient time and resources must be spent in holistically designing, preparing, and enabling new or enhanced capabilities, such as “buy online pick-up in store” (BOPIS) and detailed enterprise inventory visibility. Consumer patience with the lack of reliable retail inventory informat