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Retailers now have smart i2 Technologies
Jul '09
In today's challenging economic environment, retailers are working hard to offer consumers the right product mix at the right time, in the right channel at the right prices. However, in the face of sluggish sales, retailers are struggling to fine-tune their product mix to simultaneously accommodate local customer preferences while driving greater value to the bottom line. As retailers begin to monitor back-to-school sales and plan their holiday assortments, they must focus on knowing their customers and selecting a merchandise mix that creates a customer-centric experience.

“Getting customers in the store does not guarantee sales, especially in difficult economic times. We are seeing consumers hold back on buying what they want, and focusing more on the necessities,” said Gurdip Singh, vice president of i2's Retail and Consumer Industries Sector. “As a result, retailers have to be smart about the breadth and depth of their assortments and create a customer experience that includes tailoring products and the shopping experience to meet local tastes.”

i2 Technologies Inc offers retailers the following winning strategies to successfully deliver a customer-centric shopping experience:

1. Simplify the shopping experience. As consumers walk down store aisles they can be overwhelmed by irrelevant choices in price, brands, styles and colors. It is important for retailers to simplify the shopping experience by assorting to fixtures or shelves that carry the market basket, collection or ensemble that a consumer will likely purchase in a single trip. A “one-stop shopping” experience also reduces the possibility of consumers shopping elsewhere to complete the shopping basket.

2. Offer a seamless shopping experience anywhere, anytime. Seamless synchronization of the shopping experience no matter where the consumer makes a purchase (on-line, catalog, brick and mortar, franchise, etc.), allows a retailer to retain its best customers in the face of stiff competition. The added complexity of planning and managing assortments and inventories for these multiple channels is made even more challenging by the divergent nature of the supply chains that service these channels. The recommended way to address this shop “anywhere, anytime” business problem is to ensure the assortment management process and toolset is designed to operate in a multi-channel environment unencumbered by the assumptions of operating only in a single channel.

3. Tailor assortments to desired consumer segments. As retailers continue to grapple with economic uncertainty, it's critical for retailers to first understand what the consumer values and then localize selections based on these findings. This means creating tailored assortments by combining the art of buying with the science of micro-segmentation. In 2006, Gap Inc., one of the world's largest specialty apparel retailers, tapped i2 to help localize assortments and transform its inventory management practices to be more demand driven across all brands. Old Navy, a division of Gap Inc., was selected as the pilot brand to undergo implementation of i2 Buying and Assortment Management. As a result, Old Navy was able to better cater to local customer preferences and more accurately predict sales. To learn more about this implementation, go to “Old Navy Leverages Supply Chain Management Technology to Stay Lean and Green.”

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