Demand-Driven Forecasting discussions seem to run into a debate on the differences between demand forecasting and planning. We know how new technologies have moved beyond many planner job descriptions, some still think a planner and inventory manager are the same. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize the value proposition that bottom up, demand-driven retail delivers; they continue to use the old planning models and rename their process as demand-driven. I sat in on a presentation for an international retailer a short time ago. They were a mid-tier retailer with sales in excess of $500M, a strong web presence, and stores found in shopping centers and malls. Their products are purchased by male and female shoppers resulting in strong return shopper experiences and new customers which deliver strong sales growth year after year.
Attendance for our meeting included the CIO, Chief Merchant, Director of Forecasting, planners, and inventory management people. They told us their goals were to reduce operating capitol but maintain service levels for the web and store customers. The company wanted to increase turns while re-purposing the capital from inventory into new stores and acquisitions. The irony of the meeting is that while they used words like Demand Driven retail and Demand Forecasting, they were really talking about planning and goal setting. They believed that allocations were great and had never even thought of discussing top down versus bottom up as two distinctly different methodologies that are used to achieve entirely different goals. Read more