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TXT Retail's planning and inventory event returns to London

Representatives from fashion retailer, Takko and Urban Outfitters, skincare and fragrances specialist, Sephora, and jewellery brand, Pandora, have all been confirmed as speakers at the forthcoming Thinking Retail Planning Symposium in London on 17 March.

The event, which will take place at The Savoy Hotel in London, will also feature US-based retail technology intelligence providers Retail Systems Research, First Insight, and Columbus Consulting, with attendees set to get an opportunity to hear about the changing face of merchandising management in the global retail world.

Essential Retail caught up with Peter Charness, VP Americas and global CMO of end-to-end planning solutions provider TXT Retail, the event host, to understand what retailers can expect from the conference programme and to gain his opinions on the way merchandising and planning management is evolving.

Essential Retail (ER): What can visitors expect to gain from the Thinking Retail Planning Symposium in London, on 17 March?

Peter Charness (PC): Attendees can expect to network with over 100 professionals who all share a common interest in merchandise planning and management, including the creation of compelling assortments from product design and sourcing, through in season management. Attendees will hear from Industry Through Leaders such as Brian Kilcourse from RSR, and Retailers such as Sephora who are implementing leading edge new capabilities in this discipline.

ER: Why is there an industry need for such an event?

PC: Thinking Retail (New York and London) are literally the only events in the world that focus specifically on the needs of retail professionals who focus on the various aspects of retail planning, and inventory optimisation through the various processes of designing products, planning demand, sales, inventory levels, and creating customer pleasing assortments. The event primarily focuses on business problems and solutions with technology forming a back drop for the various presentations, discussions and networking opportunities.

ER: In many retail sectors we are seeing new job titles to help meet new challenges. To what extent is this happening in the worlds of buying, planning and merchandising?

PC: The move to supporting customer shopping across all channels is driving the need for creative new ways to approach planning and management of inventory. While the titles may not be changing for planners, their exposure to new methods and techniques – in particular with regards to managing inventory and assortments for online and brick and mortar – is creating new challenges, new learnings and an opportunity for creative new methods throughout retail. Planners in particular are taking on more extensive responsibilities in many cases as peers to the senior buyers and merchants and as such are more valued within the organisation.

ER: What would be your top three pieces of advice for individuals looking to take up a career in retail buying & merchandising, and planning?

PC:

ER: What do you see as the main retail infrastructure obstacles holding up successful global growth?

PC: A good part of the retail community has spent time creating the executional capabilities to provide for shoppers to buy online, pick up in store, return anywhere and allowed speed to capability drive these improvements. These changes were implemented as bolt-ons, or on top of older solutions and are now mostly in place. Attached to this infrastructure are planning and merchandise management systems that were not improved as part of these new capabilities, and these solutions for the most part require wholesale replacement. End

One of the companies represented on the speaker line-up at the March event, Sephora, recently rolled out TXT's forecasting and replenishment software as it looks to increase stock rotation and in-store availability.

The tool is being used as a central part of Sephora's supply chain transformation project, known internally as "Galaxy", and it has been introduced to 330 stores in France, as well as its operations in Poland, China and the US.

Sephora says that the use of TXTPlanning for forecasting and replenishment is generating significant gains, with a spokesperson for the business noting: "Stock rotation has increased and this means carrying less stock in each store, as well as reducing stock-outs and obsolescence rates."

The skincare and fragrances company also leverages the capacity planning functionality of TXTPlanning as a way of optimising replenishment at store and warehouse levels during peaks periods. The system has reportedly given the business the ability to anticipate needs and start planning for Christmas as early as September, which it says has translated into greater agility and resulted in a number of efficiencies, such as stores having fewer overstocks.

"Less pressure on deliveries and improved planning means that stores can stay completely focused on the customer," the spokesperson added.

The Thinking Retail Planning Symposium runs from 10:00 to 17:00 on Thursday 17 March at The Savoy Hotel, London. Retailers interested in attending the event can sign up here.

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