With millions of SKUs and transactions, there are few industries more reliant on data than retail. Advanced analytics programs help retailers forecast, plan promotions, manage inventory, better interact with customers and, most importantly, improve business performance. For retailers, analytics is no longer the wave of the future – it is a mandate.
But embracing new technologies and processes is not always easy, especially when you’re a retailer doing business for more than 125 years. Such is the case with Belk, a leading department store chain with almost 300 stores in 16 states and an online storefront offering fashion apparel, shoes, accessories and cosmetics. Until recently, Belk was operating without the benefit of imbedded analytics.
"Antuit not only delivers on its promises, but has gone above and beyond to design a solution that truly delivers superior results. We now have an end-to-end solution that we can rely on to help run our business efficiently."
The company’s previous forecasting practices did not incorporate statistical modeling, and its replenishment plans were based on the average rate of historical sales (ARS) rather than future predictions. As a result, it was difficult for merchants to take advantage of upward trends to maximize revenue for stores that were doing well, especially those experiencing high growth. Similarly, it was hard to catch downward trends to minimize the negative cost impact at stores showing inferior performance.
Recognizing the value that advanced data-driven decision making could bring to the business, Belk embarked on a massive multi-year, $130 million smart technology initiative to better serve its customers. Building a predictive analytics capability was identified as a top priority. Belk valued the benefits that predictive analytics could offer, but also understood the challenges of changing long-held organizational processes.
Belk worked with Antuit to build an end-to-end solution backed by a single analytical foundation. Antuit’s forecasting platform was implemented across all of Belk’s planning and fulfillment functions, including financial planning, allocation and replenishment.
This solution would ultimately provide Belk with one enterprise demand signal feeding each of these functions, ensuring that all decision making drummed to the same beat across the organization. The forecast now takes into account seasonality, promotions, events and other relevant variables to arrive at a stable and accurate forecast. It is so reliable that the company now automates the calculation of replenishment orders with confidence.
Accurate financial forecasts also allow Belk’s merchants to plan future product purchases by vendor and allocate the appropriate amounts to each store to maximize sell-through. During the open-to-buy process, reliable forecasts enable them to make better and faster business decisions, and react quickly as trends emerge.
To achieve a seamless, sustainable and scalable process, Antuit integrated its solution with SAS Planning, Oracle Replenishment and Allocation, and Belk’s internal assortment planning system. The predictive insights from Antuit’s solution continue to help Belk forecast, plan and manage inventory in a way that contributes real dollars to the bottom line.