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Satisfying More Customers Starts with Customer-Centric Assortments

Gone are the days when retailers could maintain strong brand preference through standardised store formats, uniform merchandise orders and cookie-cutter marketing programmes alone. Hyper-localisation is fast becoming the standard. With this shift, come new demands on retailers to be customer-centric, a characteristic that must be reflected in merchandising and assortment strategies.

While the demand for customer-centricity continues to grow, so too has the complexity of achieving it. As retail has grown more complicated with expanding geographies, channels, store formats and consumer expectations, it has become harder to know exactly what combination of product-place-price will motivate consumers to buy.

What’s more, not only is the complexity on the rise, but so is the urgency. As the threat of Amazon and other digitally-nimble competitors continues to loom, the time is now for retailers to deliver assortments that make it easier for customers to say yes to their merchandise when shopping in store and online.

In order to delight shoppers while reducing inventory costs and improving margins, localised, customer-centric assortments are retail’s next great merchandising frontier. Here are three areas to consider as you start the journey. 

Localised Planning Starts from the Ground Up

Localising assortments doesn’t mean starting with a chainwide assortment plan and modifying a few choices by market. Instead, it requires building a broader number of distinct and unique assortments that are focused, from the ground up, on each local market and customer base.

While this sounds highly complex, with an overwhelming number of variables to contend with, advancements in data-driven technologies, specifically in assortment planning software, are helping retailers develop customer-centric assortments.

The right assortment planning solution enables retailers to match flexible product attributes to customer segments, plan collections on a localised basis per delivery window, group stores based on customer preferences, create option plans that balance the number of choices to customer tastes, financial requirements and space capacities, and visualise assortments.

While assortment strategies are still largely dependent on the creativity and instincts of merchandisers and buyers, assortment planning software empowers these teams with valuable consumer insights that help perfectly align merchandise offerings with customers, markets, channels and locations.

Unlock Data Silos Across the Enterprise

With the data streaming through digital customer-facing touchpoints, retailers now have the opportunity to integrate customer data with the other information leveraged in their merchandising processes.

To capitalise on this data, however, retailers need to break down silos within their organisations. ‘Unlocking’ this customer data and sharing it across the business – particularly with merchants and planners – is a critical first step. Insights into preferences, needs, lifestyles and shopping behaviours are not only vital to delivering personalised assortments, but also support a 360º view of the shopper.

The availability of consumer insights is revolutionising the merchandising world. Retailers that embrace this change will achieve assortments that are more closely aligned to customer preferences and an organisation overall that is more closely attuned to its customers.

Don’t Ignore the Power of Advanced Analytics

As mentioned above, retailers have more data available than ever before. However, they should not underestimate the Herculean task of collecting, managing and acting upon this volume of data that is pouring in from a growing number of sources.

This is where the power of analytics comes into play. Advanced analytics offer insights and opportunities that would otherwise be missed if retailers are using conventional reporting methods or manual processes.

The reality is, most retail business users typically only have time to look at a subset of their data. Without tools that provide easily discernible insights and that quickly highlight opportunities, the potential to achieve more optimal plans is not attained.

With the latest analytics capabilities, an enterprise view of data and the right assortment planning solution, retailers can transform assortment planning into a highly customer-centric process.

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