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Ensuring Customer Delight During the Holiday Season

October 26, 2023 | Manju Devadas

Blog / Ensuring Customer Delight During the Holiday Season

A Modern S&OP Playbook for Timely Product Delivery with Planning in a Box

The festive air is palpable, twinkling lights adorn streets, and consumers eagerly await the holiday season’s numerous offerings. For retailers, however, this time of year presents a complex dance of preparation and execution. As the clock ticks down to peak shopping times, retailers are under immense pressure to not only meet but exceed consumer expectations, all while navigating the unpredictable waters of demand forecasting, sustainable manufacturing, and inventory management.

Today’s consumer is well-informed, discerning, and, quite frankly, a bit whimsical. A product that’s the rage one moment might find itself overshadowed the next by a new, unexpected trend. This fickleness, coupled with external factors like global disruptions and economic fluctuations, makes for a treacherous terrain for retailers to traverse.

Traditional Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) processes, which once stood as the backbone of decision-making, now seem ill-equipped to handle this new-age chaos. 

Many large and medium-sized enterprises find themselves in this messy situation, burdened by excess inventory from misguided forecasts. The repercussions don’t stop at financial setbacks; these miscalculations also translate to environmental waste and sustainability concerns. And, in the worst cases, a failure in forecasting might mean empty shelves and disgruntled customers – a cardinal sin in the retail world, especially during the high-stakes holiday season.

The need of the hour is a revolutionized approach, one that embraces the complexities of the modern market and leverages advanced tools to make agile, informed decisions.

Meet Planning in a Box: A Generative AI-Powered Decision Intelligence Platform for Modern S&OP

Planning in a Box is a Decision Intelligence platform hosted on Google Cloud. Designed to streamline S&OP processes, it integrates data from sales, marketing, supply chain, and even external sources, pulling seamlessly from platforms like SAP, Oracle EBS, and Salesforce.

Key Advantages:

  • Real-time Data Processing: Gain immediate awareness of disruptions, demand spikes, or evolving trends.
  • Holistic Analysis: A 360° view by integrating internal data with global event data, supplier metrics, and demand forecasts.
  • Actionable Insights: It’s not just about data collection; it’s about translating that data into concrete steps for real-time decision-making.

Example Scenario

ACME Handbags (a fictitious company), a renowned luxury handbag retailer, has always relied on traditional S&OP for its seasonal collections. As the festive season approaches, there’s immense pressure to ensure that they’re stocking the right products, in the right quantities, at the right locations. Traditionally, they’d analyze past years’ sales data, current trends, and some broad market research. However, with the dynamic nature of fashion and ever-evolving consumer preferences, they’ve often found themselves grappling with overstocks of less popular models and stockouts of in-demand styles.

How would Planning in a Box change the game for ACME Handbags

Challenges Traditional S&OP Modern S&OP with Planning in a Box
Short-term demand forecasting for Black Friday Analyze last year’s Black Friday sales, expecting a 10% increase Uses Generative AI to analyze real-time external data and last year’s sales, predicting a 25% increase based on trend analysis.
Inventory alignment for the top 5 popular designs Based on general sales trends, stock 5,000 units of each design Dynamic inventory adjustments predict a demand for 7,000 units for 3 designs, and 4,500 for the other 2 based on real-time trend and Google search analysis.
Swift reaction to emerging bag design trends Hold weekly trend review meetings, adjusting stock up to 500 units based on discussions Continuous real-time trend monitoring suggests a sudden spike in sling bags, recommending a proactive stocking of an additional 1,200 units.
Identifying potential slow-moving inventory Post-sale manual assessment identifies 2,000 units unsold Predictive analytics identify 1,500 units at risk of slow movement in advance, suggesting bundling promotions.
Collaborative marketing strategies for promotions Previous year’s data guides a 15% discount promotion for Black Friday Real-time insights and data analysis recommend a 10% discount bundled with loyalty points, based on competitor analysis and trend forecasting.
Adjusting manufacturing schedules Post-sales reaction results in overproduction of 3,000 units of a particular design AI-driven predictions adjust production schedules in advance, reducing overproduction by 70%.
Engaging suppliers for quick replenishments Engage suppliers based on set agreements, resulting in a lead time of 10 days for replenishment Data-driven insights allow for predictive engagements, reducing supplier lead time to 5 days.


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Real-World Case Study: Iconic Jewelry Brand Tacori 

Renowned for its artisan jewelry, Tacori stands as an emblem of luxury and craftsmanship. As market dynamics shifted and consumer behaviors evolved, Tacori sought a strategic pivot. Integrating Planning in a Box into their operations proved to be a game-changer. This Generative AI-powered platform allowed Tacori to:

  • Rapid Insights: Glean real-time trends from platforms like Google Trends, ensuring they remain at the forefront of design innovation.
  • Enhanced Forecasting: Improve demand prediction by 20%, refining their manufacturing schedules and inventory positioning.
  • Seamless Integration: Streamline operations by effortlessly syncing data from sales, marketing, and supply chain departments.
  • Agile Decision-making: Reduce response times to market changes, saving the brand hundreds of hours annually.

Before Planning in a Box, Tacori’s data was scattered and static. Now, with a unified view of real-time internal and external datasets, they’ve slashed decision-making times by approximately 60 hours monthly. This agility lets them sense demand shifts faster and pivot in a snap, ensuring their exquisite jewelry meets the right customers at the right time.

Deep-Dive into Tacori’s Blueprint for Inventory Optimization

From Data Silos to Gen AI-Powered Real-Time Analytics in Just 4 Weeks

Navigating the complex corridors of today’s business environment demands swift decisions and even swifter actions. But how do you decide quickly without compromising on accuracy? The answer lies not just in collecting data but in seamlessly integrating and analyzing it for on-the-spot decision-making. 

With Planning in a Box, you move beyond isolated data silos, tapping into the prowess of Generative AI that weaves together every thread of information. The result? A tapestry of real-time, actionable insights. 

Brands like Levi’s, AB InBev, and Ulta Beauty have already harnessed the power of this platform. Now, it’s your turn. Dive into a transformative experience and witness firsthand the potency of real-time analytics powered by Gen AI. Schedule a demo and propel your business into a future of informed agility.

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Manju Devadas is the Founder and CEO of Pluto7, bringing 20+ years of experience in predictive analytics for Supply Chain, Retail and Manufacturing. With expertise in AI, Deep Learning, and Machine Learning, he has been instrumental in improving efficiency and strategic growth across industries.

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