Five Things Retailers Should Plan For In This Quarter

Five Things Retailers Should Plan For In This Quarter
May 19, 2010 Revionics

A Group Contribution from the Revionics Consulting Team

If any of us had a crystal ball, we would most likely be enjoying a relaxing life somewhere, as we would have foreseen the recent changes in our economy and been better prepared to weather the storm. But since most of us are not privileged to that mystical tool, let’s talk about a few things we should all have on our immediate radar and be planning for as we look to the coming months.

Stabilization of the economy

Even though home prices are still slumping, and the jobs picture is only seeing slight glimmers of hope on the horizon, it appears that the worst recession in 70 years is behind us. Retailers that have been able to manage inventory and pricing through this turbulent time are well positioned for the future. As the economy begins to gain momentum over the coming months it will be important for retailers to continue focusing on KEY elements of their business that have defined them to their customers. Things like value proposition, loyalty, service, and value-added benefits need to be safeguarded and used as spring boards into the future. The ability to engage in predictive analytics or Future Planning will be paramount as we exit this economy. Being able to create “what if” scenarios in a real-time environment, such as is possible with Revionics Planning will allow retailers to keep ahead of the curve.

Shifts in consumer behavior

According to IRI’s recent FMI Economic Trend analysis for 2010 – “Consumers began embracing a range of money-saving strategies as means to survival earlier in the recession. They have quickly become engrained, and all indications are that consumers will continue with these tactics for the foreseeable future.” Consumers have become very value oriented. It is important to remember that value is an equation, not just a price point for the majority of customers.

New directions for private label

More consumers across ALL income and age segments are trying private label and recognize the total value of these brands vs. name brands. In the food segment alone, retailers have enormous upside potential in private label initiatives that encourage trial and repeat purchases across food and nonfood categories.

One of the key components to future success is a resetting of their current paradigm to a mentality of leadership rather than that of a follower. This takes a forward-looking approach, using predictive analytics created from and supported by their individual consumer demand indicators. Retailers must continue to evaluate their offerings through the filter of value proposition to their customers. Brand consolidation, based on eliminating confusion within a segment, will allow for better placement of private label offerings for continued penetration and profitability. Product planning, including an understanding of the role and interaction of each product, is critical to achieving maximum success at the enterprise level. Penetration of private label offerings, as well as maximizing the national brand potential, are both tied to this very important effort. Merchandising and advertising tactics that help build the brand in-store will be needed to maximize success in the future.

Potential shifts in store cluster dynamics

With virtually all demographic and socioeconomic lines impacted by the economy, what held true for retail store clustering a few years ago might not be true today. Stores that have traditionally catered to an infinite flow of disposable income are today seeing higher redemption of coupons and greater dilution from ad shopping than ever before. Specialty departments are suffering or are being closed in many of these stores. Revionics Consulting group can assist retailers in determining if their current zone structure is relevant with the recent changes. We can assist in determining if current stores are in the correct clusters and if the appropriate number of zones are being used to maximize profitability.

A balanced approach to promotions

With the consumer focus on value, and manufacturer’s willingness to invest in promotions rather than cost reduction, we have just gone through one of the most promotionally intensive time frames in recent retail history. While price and promotion have become a bigger differentiator than ever before, a merchant’s ability to control the MIX of prices through optimization and promotional pricing tools will help keep margins on target. The ability to evaluate the effectiveness of promotional offers and their impact on lift, affinity, cannibalization, and contribution to profitability at both the category and enterprise levels is crucial. Strategic pricing, both everyday and promotional, supported by technology continues to be recognized as an enormous opportunity for retailers. An integrated approach to all aspects of the pricing lifecycle, such as is offered by Revionics, will be critical in making the most of the pivotal time ahead.

Even though the immediate future still appears rocky, there does seem to be a brighter future just around the corner. Revionics stands ready to assist retailers in navigating these emerging waters with its full suite of lifecycle pricing tools and consulting resources.