The Golden Quarter: Planning for profit with intelligent merchandising

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By Ed Betts, UKI General manager
3 minute read

16 September marks the 100-day countdown to Christmas, also known as the Golden Quarter; the busiest period in the retail calendar. The Golden Quarter can be a difficult time for retail businesses, but this year presents a real challenge. The cost-of-living crisis, disruption to supply chains, the effect on global trade and freight costs as a result of the rising dollar[1], as well as strike action affecting ports and transport links, will all have a significant impact on the retailers’ ability to do business.

As the Golden Quarter brings Halloween, Guy Fawkes Night, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas in very quick succession, the main commercial challenge is how to enter and exit the quarter’s various events cleanly while delivering truly incremental growth. For retail businesses to achieve a profitable final quarter they must possess impeccable retail skills, be able to foster great relationships with suppliers and employ a sophisticated system of forecasting, ordering and replenishment.

Category management is key

Retailers know all too well the importance of timely stock ordering at times when it’s most in demand. But it’s easy to see why, as pressure mounts, errors can be made and key lines can be ignored or miscalculated in the rush to turn a profit. The ability to build accurate and detailed records of product categories, deals, promotions and advertisements is therefore critical.

Retailers must avoid a reliance on a tried and tested approach which will only deliver predictably unremarkable results, or to attempt to boost waning sales with badly timed quick-fire offers which can lead to major problems without proper forecasting. Changes in sales plans to address performance at this point in the quarter have to be carefully managed to avoid knock-on implications affecting price establishment periods, stock levels and any advertising that has already been agreed.

AI-driven planning and forecasting

Execution on the back of high-quality planning is the key to getting retail right, improving partner and supplier relationships and ensuring a unified approach. The introduction of intelligent merchandising software replaces a chaotic mix of emails, phone calls and spreadsheets with powerful planning tools and AI-driven insights which can help retail businesses rethink their objectives while removing reliance on time-consuming admin.

Intelligent merchandising allows plans to be simulated prior to releasing to the market, offering an holistic view of planning and performance. Algorithmic retailing, the use of AI to drive automation and recommendation systems, can free up staff time, allowing more focus to be placed on improving retailer and supplier collaboration. Maintaining a centralised planning platform provides one version of the truth;a transparent plan that everyone can get behind to become the definitive mode of operation.

Boosting profits in the Golden Quarter and beyond

Retailers can now make use of levels of visibility and insight previously out of reach. For example, by using AI to analyse current and historic data with the trading and merchandising conditions that underpinned those sales, accurate predictions can be made about how pricing and promotional plans will impact future revenue and profits at both summary and granular levels.

Forward-thinking retail businesses are acting quickly to take advantage of intelligent merchandising solutions that will allow them to escape the limitations of legacy operations and embrace technology that’s been designed to facilitate growth. With renewed ability to improve pricing; promotional planning and execution; media planning; and collaboration with suppliers, improved vendor funding can be accessed. Taking the steps to transform key processes will ensure that a well-coordinated, more profitable Golden Quarter lies ahead.

Read more about the impact of inflation and our solutions to help retail businesses


[1] https://theconversation.com/five-ways-that-the-super-strong-us-dollar-could-hurt-the-world-economy-186654

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