Part Four: Q&A with Aéropostale’s SVP of Planning & Allocation (Bonus Questions!)

“Emerging technologies driving disruptive innovation, many yielding transformational benefits, must be prioritized for investigation, even though the ‘buzz’ and expectations for them are just on the rise.” – Gartner, Use Cases Harness Emerging Technologies to Deliver Delightfully Disruptive Customer Experiences 

How are you keeping up with disruption in the industry?

This question resonates with merchants globally—from luxury to fast fashion to off-price—as most are challenged to meet consumer expectations, anticipate future demand, and make the right investments and decisions throughout the merchandising cycle.

Given the circumstances retail is in today, the technology available to help businesses become digitally enabled provider[s] of unified retail commerce is, as Gartner so accurately highlighted, “yielding transformational benefits.”

As an example, retailers are expected to use AI to hone the accuracy and speed of human decision making well beyond current levels by 2020. 

And 2020 is RIGHT around the corner.

As such, we wanted to share some final insights from our recent Q&A with Aéropostale’s SVP of Planning & Allocation, Karen Walter, who shared plenty on how her team is incorporating emerging technologies (like advanced analytics!), as well as:

  • A new approach to the Merchandise, Planning, and Allocation process (Part One)
  • How new technologies are blended with existing business process (Part Two)
  • Why and how Aéropostale adopted analytics in today’s retail environment (Part Three

At the end of the Q&A, we gave retailers a chance to submit their own questions to Karen, which we outlined below! We hope her responses help provide some clarity on any looming questions you may have on Aéropostale's newly AI-enabled merchandising process or strategies you may be considering at the moment.

Also, feel free to access to full webcast Q&A video here for more context! 

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Topics: allocation, predictive analytics, merchandise planning, inventory optimization, data, advanced analytics

Part Three: Q&A with Aéropostale’s SVP of Planning & Allocation on AI

"AI, which is forecast to grow to $36.8 billion by 2025, could bring a new way of transformation to retail." - Deborah Weinswig, CEO of Coresight Research   

Everyday you make really difficult inventory decisions. 

The impact of AI on retail is clearly a major topic of discussion for many merchandisers on the hunt for new tech to help make their job of managing inventory and forecasting demand better, faster and much more accurate than ever before. 

At the end of the day, your goals revolve around improving revenue — and yet, so much of it is tied up in unsold product, inefficient processes, or bad merchandising decisions. 

If a technology existed with the sole purpose of helping you meet these goals, why wouldn't you use it? Many retailers are in a dire position because of this failure to adapt and evolve with the tools available to meet the customer-centric demand driving the market today.

And, at the moment, machine learning and advanced analytics are the tools making it possible to do just that. Retailers like Aéropostale are taking steps to make better investments in the right products with their customer in mind by incorporating advanced analytics into their merchandising process.

Check out what Karen Walter, Aéropostale's SVP of Planning & Allocation, has to say in our latest webcast Q&A (transcript below!) about how and why her team adopted analytics in today's retail environment.

(Also, feel free to access Part 1 and Part 2 of the Q&A transcript for more insights from Aéro!)

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Topics: allocation, predictive analytics, merchandise planning, inventory optimization, data, advanced analytics

Part Two: Q&A with Aéropostale’s SVP of Planning & Allocation on Tech Adoption

"Retailers must become top performers in digital business transformation if they are to succeed in delivering unified retail commerce experiences for customers." - Robert Hetu, Gartner   

If you follow our blog, then you probably know all about our latest webcast with Aéropostale’s SVP of Planning and AllocationKaren Walter, who sat down with us last month to talk about how her team is embracing advanced analytics in today's evolving retail landscape. 

One of the biggest themes throughout our conversation focused on digital transformation.

This is, by far, one of the most prominent themes overtaking the industry as legacy retailers frantically search for new technology solutions to respond quickly to the changing demands tugging at their shirttails in fifty different directions. 

However, a defining factor rooted in some of these struggles is an inability to effectively adapt traditional, existing business processes with transformative data-driven, technology initiatives.

"Gartner's retail clients are rightfully concerned about how to accomplish the herculean task of transforming a traditional, multichannel retailer into a digitally enabled provider of unified retail commerce." - Robert Hetu, Gartner, 2018 Retail CIO Agenda

Furthermore, some of the questions plaguing many retailers in this position, according to Gartner, include the following:

  • How should we prioritize new technology investments?
  • How do we gain consensus across the business?
  • How do we effectively manage organizational change?

These questions may appear simple, but they're far from it. Adopting a new technology is a huge undertaking, and figuring out the best way to go about it will be slightly different and unique to every organization.

In our Q&A with Aéropostale, Karen shares her experience when dealing with new technology adoption and some of the challenges she faced along the way. 

Read on to see what Karen has to say below!

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Topics: predictive analytics, merchandise planning, inventory optimization, data, advanced analytics, technology adoption, digital transformation

Part One: Q&A with Aéropostale’s SVP of Planning & Allocation

"The customer is dictating the way they want to shop and what their new level of service is—we just all need to catch up to them.” Karen Walter, SVP of Planning & Allocation at Aéropostale 

Retailers have more data than ever before.

However, introducing new technology to leverage data more effectively throughout the merchandising process is a daunting—yet critical task.

In our latest webcast, we had the opportunity to sit down with Aéropostale’s SVP of Planning and AllocationKaren Walter, who shed some light on:

  • Why and how Aéropostale adopted advanced analytics in today’s retail environment
  • A new approach to the Merchandise, Planning, and Allocation process
  • How new technologies are blended with existing business process

Check out the the first part of the Q&A transcript below, where Karen shares her experience and thoughts on how the Planning & Allocation side of the business (and retail overall!) has evolved, as well as some of her biggest influencers throughout her career.

You can (of course) access the full video interview here

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Topics: allocation, predictive analytics, merchandise planning, inventory optimization, data, advanced analytics

How to be Michelangelo in Today's Retail Renaissance

Most news outlets seem to cover the changing retail landscape with near-weekly stories on store closings and bankruptcy filings. Even outside of the fact that articles with high click-rates beget other similar articles, which in the case of retail generally include household names with a significant nostalgic punch—there certainly is a dramatic change in the industry. However, we should not take stock in those with signs proclaiming “the end is near” for retail any more than we do the madman in front of the park fountain.

One of our customers’ CEOs recently told his leadership that he’s tired of hearing about “The Retail Apocalypse.” He pointed out the fact that it’s become such a ridiculously exaggerated topic, it even has its own Wikipedia page. Given the industry we’re in, this naturally made it worth a look. 

What’s interesting isn’t the fact that retail is changing, or that the general public and media have mischaracterized the evolution. What is interesting is when you look at the factors contributing to this change, understand their impact, and – most importantly — understand how to combat them in order to thrive in the face of this “New Retail” environment.

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Topics: e-commerce, inventory optimization, brick-and-mortar retail, retail renaissance, retail apocalypse

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