5 Ways S&OP Can Support Retail Sales Planning

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With the growing popularity of real time big data, new possibilities open up to companies to improve their overall operations. This is especially true for S&OP, where software solutions can help to automate certain tasks, improve sales forecasts, and ultimately increase revenue. For production planning, many companies are interested in the benefits of an S&OP solution to meet their short-and long-term goals and establish target oriented capacities.


In the short-term, S&OP helps companies to determine what needs to be produced, and where, in order to serve specific markets. In the long-term, it can use forecast information to help companies predict whether their production resources will meet the needs of retailers over the next few months and out to the following years.

Overall, the success of a company at all levels is dependent, in part, on the accuracy of these sales forecasts. With better forecasts for Sales Points, headquarters can earlier establish reliable production plans and capacities which as a consequence improves the companies flexibility, profitability and reliability of product delivery back to the retail locations. This cyclical relationship is crucial to a company’s success, and an S&OP solution can support forecasting at all levels of a sales network.

So, even though many companies consider the benefits of an S&OP solution for production planning, the advantages easily extend to retail locations, too. With an S&OP solution, retail sites can improve forecasting, deliver better customer value, and ultimately increase their revenue and profitability.

1. Improve Forecasting

An accurate and reliable retail sales forecast is crucial to the success of the retail site, for the producers and for all related parties in the supply network and the shipping companies. Using advanced data analytics, an S&OP solution can help improve the sales forecasting process to plan for ideal inventories that eliminate lost sales and reduce bound capital.

2. Introduce Ideal Ordering

An S&OP solution can also help sales points implement an intelligent ordering system. With a data-informed plan, retail locations can order the exact amount of product they need when they need it. By ordering products to support an ideal inventory level, retail sites can ensure they have the products on hand to meet customer demand while not locking up too much bound capital with too high inventories, still reduce wait times, and improve the overall customer experience with interesting product mixes on hand.

3. Provide More Reliable Delivery Dates

For many product groups, retailers turn into showrooms, where customers can see and try out products without immediately buying them out of inventories but getting them shipped from central inventory hubs or even getting the products manufactured to order. When purchasing these products, customers want to know that their delivery date is reliable. An S&OP solution can help improve delivery date estimations to make them more accurate and reliable, helping to enhance the overall sales experience for the customer. For example at many car makers it is possible to follow the emergence of the bought car from order number through body shop to assembly to hand over. Great identification between customer and product, which would be ruined in a blink of an eye, if the delivery due date was missed.

4. Learn More from Your Data

S&OP solutions allow retail sites to record sales history in detail. Retail locations can then analyze this data to better understand how their products sell and permanently actualize the starting points for new plans, which is the most recent actual sales. In recent years, methods to identify patterns for product lifecycles, seasonality, reaction to marketing initiatives have significantly improved and can support the planners to quicker deliver sales forecasts at even better quality. Plus, this data can inform marketing decisions, helping retail sites gain more bang for their buck when it comes to implementing an S&OP solution.

5. Optimize Across a Sales Network

Finally, an S&OP solution can help retail locations optimize their product portfolio to their specific sales region and target groups. Optimizing products can ensure you have what customers want on-site and ready to go. It can also reduce bound capital costs in products that are not selling. Regional Optimizations across multiple points of sales help to avoid similar offerings and therefore be vulnerable to internal competition. Last but not least it has shown that the best sales forecasts are done by the retail points and the central sales areas of the manufacturers together, which is typically supported by S&OP solutions which are used by all parties.

S&OP for Sales Planning

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With an S&OP solution, retail sales points can take advantage of their existing historical and real-time data to inform important decisions related to ordering and marketing. With more information, retail sites can better anticipate changes in sales patterns and speed up the replanning process. Plus, an S&OP solution can automate certain steps in the planning process to help reduce workloads while ultimately increasing the bottom line. As part of a broader S&OP solution, improved retail sales forecasts can then inform production planning and executive forecasts to ensure product is delivered on time when its needed most.

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