In Supply Chain

At the recent planning meeting for next year’s GMA/FMI Supply Chain Conference, one of the persistent themes was the use of real time data and analytics to improve supply chain planning, product lifecycle management, shopper marketing and to aide retailer-manufacturer collaboration. The dream of pursuing opportunities like the use of real-time POS or returns data to improve replenishment forecasting, or the use of real-time data to provide shoppers with offers or product information while they are in the store has existed for years. The difference now is the emergence and convergence of technologies that are enabling the realization of those dreams. Advances in data storage, cloud-based platforms, analytics and mobile technology, among others, are helping to power major advances in the art of the possible. I’m excited to be exploring opportunities like these with many of Inmar’s clients.

One of the areas that will benefit most from the application of real-time data and analytics is new product launches. The majority of new product launches fail, and they typically experience higher rates of unsaleables and out-of-stocks. The dilemma is understandable; accurately forecasting any of the factors required to launch a new product is a tremendous challenge. Increasingly, real-time data are being leveraged to adjust forecasts and plans for new product launches. This rich information helps brands and retailers understand the product lifecycle, plan inventory levels and adjust promotion strategies. Brands and retailers have the ability to retain customer loyalty and satisfaction and increase the shopper experience with improved on-shelf availability, inventory productivity is improved, unsaleables are reduced, everybody wins!

Real-time returns data can provide significant benefits as well. As an example, Inmar recently launched a returns management partnership with an aftermarket retailer. A component of the program was the use of real-time data to improve business outcomes and identify systemic issues. The actual outcomes have included accelerated inventory return to stock with improved fill rates, reduced inventory requirements and faster manufacturer credits. Real-time data on returns, including root cause analysis, were used to quickly identify and address process issues.

How can real-time data be useful in new product launches, and how is it being used by your company? I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on this topic. Please join the discussion and leave your comments below.

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