Merchandise Management & Inventory Control
The quality and the effectiveness of the Merchandise Management process is the most fundamental factor in a retailer’s success. The right product mix and optimum inventory levels (at the right locations and at the right time) require smart planning and procurement, as well as effective logistics. Combined with intelligent price points, this leads to attractive offers and great customer service.
The Retail Directions Platform has a range of facilities to help retailers accurately monitor and optimise stock and effectively handle items through their life cycle, in order to maximise product margins and profits. The Platform gives retailers real-time stock information, visible through all channels.
Before stock can be purchased, it needs to be catered for in merchandise budgets, to be provided for within the constraints of OTB (Open to Buy).
Retail Directions budgeting tools allow users to create and manage store sales and profit budgets, using a three-dimensional spreadsheet. The spreadsheet allows users to create and edit budgets for each combination of stores, product groups, and trading weeks during a planning period.
Once approved, the sales budgets flow as input into merchandise budgets and provide the base for weekly, daily and hourly sales budgets used in the store operations, for executive reports, and for smartphone executive enquires when on the road.
The merchandise budgeting tool allows users to translate the sales budgets into the purchasing budgets (OTB), by period, to make sure that the intended top line will be supported with the proper levels of inventory in each product group, throughout the planning period.
The Purchase Ordering module within the Retail Directions Platform initiates the flow within the supply chain. Users can create and maintain purchase orders for all types of merchandise, using a range of delivery and distribution options. Orders can be shipped directly to stores or warehouses, cross-docked or designated for internal cross-docking via break-bulk. Multiple destinations can be covered with a single purchase order. If necessary, orders can be re-directed.
The Purchase Order facility within the Platform includes workbench-style display, calculated ETA dates based on transit times, delivery booking management, automatic order closure based on acceptable tolerances, order quantities derived from size curve analysis, links to production and marketing events, advanced lifecycle management, and multiple pivoting views.
Users can register items of varying level of complexity within the Platform, from simple SKUs to complex apparel styles with multiple colours, sizes, and attributes. Items are managed within merchandise hierarchy, with multiple levels and additional dissections based on product brands, seasons, suppliers, retail chains, and dynamic attributes.
Item life cycle is managed through a range of stages, from intended items to rundown and discontinued stock.
Multiple buying sources can be defined, with the relevant costing information. Items can be bar-coded and ticketed in a variety of ways, including in-house codes.
The Platform allows users to manage prices by zone, with overrides by store (if required). This makes the process efficient, particularly for large retail chains operating in multiple markets.
The pricing system supports various price types: regular, markdown, special and the first margin price. Such prices can then be further altered via rule-based promotions, applied at the time of sale.
Price changes can be set up well in advance, with the ability to automatically revert from special prices to the regular price after promotion ends.
Before being communicated to the affected stores, prices can be analysed using a profit impact assessment tool and approved by an authorised member of Head Office staff.
In addition to supporting multiple pricing zones, the system allows users to set prices in various currencies (as used in the stores), within various tax jurisdictions to apply regional taxes to facilitate international operations. Store-level pricing can also be used, to override zone prices for more targeted price management if required for a specific market or store location.
Intelligent management of stock requires full transactional tracking and access to accurate, up-to-date stock level information.
The Retail Directions Platform provides full visibility of stock levels across all channels in real-time. By contrast, many retailers who don’t use our Platform complain about inaccurate inventory levels and no live visibility.
The Retail Directions Platform captures all types of stock movements and adjustments, providing live, SKU-level inventory balances in stores and at a bin level within warehouses. It provides tools for stocktaking, allowing for partial and full facility stock takes. Stock takes can be conducted using handheld wireless devices.
All stock transactions are regularly summarised and encoded for automated posting to the General Ledger.