Right now, Product teams, Buyers, Merchandisers and Retail Wholesalers are managing billions of dollars’ worth of products with paper boards, cutouts, spreadsheets and Powerpoints.
Tasks eventually get done, but this traditional way of working is rife with error, time consuming, results in a lot of rework every time a change is made and, the most worrying, does not necessarily provide the information and feedback needed to maximize retail assortment value. In short, you are underselling!
Trying to understand the positioning of new collections, product families, selling points and unique features, materials, colors, sizes, pricing and product visuals is difficult when data is scattered across multiple points, constantly changing and decidedly in a non-visual format. Spreadsheets lack any visual context, which means endless flicking back and forth to look at images and memorizing codes in order to make critical decisions.
How do teams ensure product assortments will fulfill the financial targets without the ability to quickly visualize different product mixes, give feedback early on, or try to make decisions with insufficient reporting, analytics and business intelligence?
There has to be a better way! And there is!
Introducing the Centric Digital Buying Board
Centric Software’s Digital Buying Board streamlines buying and merchandising sessions for retail, wholesale and e-commerce for fashion, footwear, consumer goods, outdoor and home and furnishing companies. This brand-new market innovation aligns product and category teams, merchants, internal buyers and sales on a single, easy-to-use, highly-visual platform for touch-based devices like tablets, touchscreen televisions and web applications.
Drawing together real-time information from multiple systems such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), users of the Buying Board can rapidly build assortment plans that link to master or regional collections and collaborate effectively without endless meetings and spreadsheet version confusion. It’s a whole new way of making decisions!
Teams can track budgets, Open to Buy commitments, Minimum Order Quantities and more whilst building assortments by line, collection, model, function, store, region or country. Buyers can make unit commitments with ‘orders’ rolling up to see overall quantities and even give early-stage feedback by ‘liking’ or rating products so that product teams can make add/drop decisions before the product engages with the supply chain. Teams can gather real-time analytics, past sales history and roll-up reports to achieve the correct product mix at store level and optimize regional and channel-specific assortments, slicing and dicing views to see only the most meaningful information.
Here are five ways the Buying Board maximizes sales for collections!
1. Simple, streamlined collaboration
Centric’s Buying Board creates one central, simple online location that everyone can access and update in real time, improving collaboration between central and regional merchandising teams and internal buyers. Forget chasing your colleagues for the latest assortment plan before an important meeting – all changes are instantly visible in the system, making version control issues a thing of the past.
2. Easy on the eye
Numbers and verbal descriptions don’t show merchandisers how products will look on the shelf – they need a bit of help to come to life. With the Buying Board’s rich images and visual layout, merchandisers can easily visualize products in store and decide whether they appeal to target consumers, while product teams can present collections in a beautiful, visual format. There’s no need to scroll through cluttered spreadsheets looking for product codes and search for matching images elsewhere.
3. Informed decision-making
Easily pull up reports and sales analytics from previous years to determine the popularity of previous products and make smarter, faster decisions to increase the likelihood of assortment success. The Buying Board allows buyers to make approximate buys in advance, giving the product team a better idea of whether some products need to be changed or dropped.
4. Healthy bottom line
Using the Buying Board, you can achieve the correct product mix at store level and optimize regional and channel-specific assortments to meet financial goals. It’s easy to play around with different assortment possibilities before committing to decisions to see the effect on margins. The Buying Board’s planning capabilities maximize sales, optimize sell-through and reduce the likelihood of selling off excess inventory at a lower margin with granular control of merchandise at store level to boost profits.
5. Smart, efficient working
With the Buying Board, buyers and merchandisers can work smarter and faster, and costly and time-consuming rework is greatly reduced. Notifications make it easy for regional merchandisers to track changes made by global merchandisers in real time, eliminating communication breakdowns that result in assortments with unavailable items or inaccurate product data. Regional merchandisers can begin creating a new assortment for a new store with a simple drag and drop of an existing assortment.
Centric’s Buying Board isn’t just a pretty visual tool – it is a powerful, fully actionable, completely new method of digital decision-making that transforms the way merchandisers and buyers work. If you’re sighing over spreadsheets and perspiring over Powerpoint, it’s time to step back, see the bigger picture and get on with your real work – getting the products customers want on the shelves, when they want them.