Archive for January, 2011

If we missed you at NRF’s BIG Show…

If you didn’t get to meet with us at the BIG Show – we’ll come to you!

See what you missed:

NRF BIG Show Day 1
NRF BIG Show Day 2

Quantum Retail had over 100 meetings this year; we’re happily looking forward to the prospect of some great new clients.

Let Q chase the profit for you!

Award-winning system

Quantum Retail’s dynamic engine, Q, optimizes and automates retail processes related to localized forecasting and advanced order planning, allocation and replenishment, and assortment and range planning.

Proven intelligence

Through a deep understanding of item behavior and merchandise roles, goals, and strategies, Q has proven results in the whole range of retail subverticals from hardlines and fast fashion to grocery and general merchandise, Quantum offers short implementation schedules and quick return on investment. Recent upgrades have included multi supply chain support, eCommerce integration, and enhanced order planning and forecasting capabilities.

For a new era of retail

New school solutions like Quantum Retail’s next generation inventory management system, Q, are here to help retailers easily catch up and learn the immense competitive advantage of new school technology. It doesn’t take years to implement change anymore. Achieve ROI in just months…

You can still meet with us!

Retailers wanting to optimize their business strategies and better compete in the new retail landscape can arrange a meeting with Quantum by contacting Wyatt Wood at or 651-699-6875. Journalists and industry analysts may schedule a briefing with senior Quantum Retail executives by contacting Dan Brown of Mulberry Marketing at or 415-439-8357.

What you missed: NRF Big Show 2011 – Tuesday

Blogging from the Tuesday Sessions

Closing the 10,000 Mile Supply Chain Gap: Are we there yet?

Tech for 2011: Online Virtual Fitting Rooms and Mobile Self Checkout

Retail Benchmarks from 2010, Forecasts for 2011

#1 Supply Chain Tech sought at NRF 2011: Assortment Planning Solutions

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« See what you missed on Monday

#1 Supply Chain Tech sought at NRF 2011: Assortment Planning Solutions

We met with over 100 retailers and analysts at NRF this year and what was the most common technology solution they were seeking? A tool for assortment planning.

As we’ve all seen, 2010 was not a stellar year. Christmas results were at the low end of the growth spectrum. Consumers remained cautious and practical with their spending. Value entered into everyone’s psyches. So with all of the work that retailers did with internal restructuring, we’re finally seeing that retailers’ wallets are prepared to open up in 2011.

In fact, in the NRF/KPMG Retail Horizons report, respondents stated that the main area they plan to begin spending in 2011 is particularly in mission-critical areas, like IT.

You can check out more highlights of the NRF/KPMG Retail Horizons report HERE »

For more information on Quantum Retail’s Assortment & Range Planning solutions, visit»

For resources on best practices in assortment planning, visit»

To download our guide: 4 Strategies to Optimize Assortment Planning, visit»

Retail Benchmarks from 2010, Forecasts for 2011

NRF 11 Tuesday Session

Mark Larson
Bruce Besanko EVP, CFO, CAO, OfficeMax
Herman Nell VP, CIO, Petco


Key to retailers’ success in a prolonged difficult environment is insight into their competitors’ future strategic plans.  In this session, a panel of retail executives discussed findings of the ninth annual state of the industry survey conducted in Fall 2010 in a conversation led by study partner and sponsor KPMG. The session covered a study of what hundreds of retail executives in nine functional areas revealed about key initiatives for the coming year. Panelists dissected key findings of thousands of specific data points in areas from customer insight to eCommerce.

NRF and KMPG Retail Horizons Report – Key Findings:

  • Despite sluggish demand, retailers stanch losses, stabilize profitability
  • To protect margins, retailers continued to focus on efficiency and process improvements
  • With the worst behind them, growth and expansion top the agenda for 2011
  • The battle for wallet share means marketing is getting more personal
  • Providing a semaless online and offline experience is a major focus
  • Good talent matters more than ever

Benchmarks for 2010

Cautious optimism and introspection

Sustainability and Efficiency: Retailers turned their focus to sustainability and efficiency, leveraging improvements and technology that would pay off in the long run. They gained awareness of the reality that some large investments turn out to be cost-savers in due time, especially when applied on a large scale.

Internal Restructuring: While retailers worked harder to stimulate demand on the front end, most took the opportunity to get their internal house in order; streamlining systems and processes, consolidating platforms, and integrating data across channels. With these internal improvements at the forefront of retail mindsets, inventories were aligned, productivity was improved, efficiency and value was key.

Customer-Centric Business: With fewer buyers in the stores, competition for the share of wallet intensified. To win shoppers the industry focused on improving customer interactions. Because buyers were more fragmented and product proliferation was on the rise, the quality of the customer experience quickly became a key point of differentiation.

Customer Data Gathering: Refined data gathering methods were put in place to monitor customer satisfaction.

Social Media: With the web’s growing influence on buyer decisionmaking, retailers also made wider use of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Social sharing components in their eCommerce stores.

Talent: While smaller retailers continued to employ fewer people in 2010, larger companies added staff

Forecasts for 2011

Having steadied the ship, retailers face 2011 with renewed confidence

Expansion: For the first time in several years, expansion is back on the agenda.

New Store Concepts: Retailers are also ready to begin experimenting with new brick-and-mortar concepts, hoping to appeal to shoppers interested in buying for “wants” instead of “needs,” after years of belt tightening, but it is expected that the behaviors of value, responsibility, and frugality will likely remain.

Spending: Retailers will also loosen the grip on their own wallets, particularly in mission-critical areas, like IT, where headcount and budgets are expected to increase.

Improving Economy: Having made progress stabilizing balance sheets over the last 12 months, the industry seems well poised to take advantage of an improving economy.

Talent: More hiring is expected for 2011, especially in core business functions like IT.

2010 Stats

  • Average gross margins rose by a modest 0.7%
  • The number of companies reporting operational losses shrank by 11% year-over-year
  • The number of companies reporting average sales per employee of greater than $75,000 jumped 12% over last year
  • 65% of marketing and advertising executives (one-fifth more than last year) stated that increasing customer insight and data gathering was a high priority in their 2010 initiatives
  • 50% of respondents spent 20% or more of their advertising budget on direct-to-consumer marketing in 2010
  • A majority of respondents stated that they now match prices and make 80% of their merchandise available online
  • 18% more organizations than last year ranked integrating their online presence with social media and other channels a high priority
  • 59% of respondents to make social media their key focus for 2011
  • 75% of respondents said customer service would be a top priority for 2011
  • 75% of respondents advertise with links on Facebook, Twitter, and related sites (25% more than last year)
  • Nearly 80% of respondents have “fan groups”
  • 80% of respondents said leadership development would be a top priority in 2011

4 Key investments for 2011

  1. IT: Retailers plan to loosen their wallets, particularly in mission-critical areas, like IT, where headcount and budgets are expected to increase
  2. Data integration: 74% of respondents in 2011 will increase their consumer insight and data gathering initiatives
  3. Social Media: 69% of respondents identify m-commerce and e-commerce as a strategic initiative
  4. Growth and Expansion: 41% of respondents plan to increase domestic store expansion, 25% plan to expand overseas

You can purchase the full Retail Horizons report, or sections of the report from NRF HERE»

Closing the 10,000 Mile Supply Chain Gap: Are we there yet?

NRF 11 Tuesday Session


Don Grant Group VP, Phillips-VanHeusen
Sahir Anand VP, Principle Analyst, The Aberdeen Group
Thomas Ng Founder, CEO, ecVision


As supply chains stretch around the globe to yield greater return on investment, the importance of strengthening each link becomes more critical. In this session, Sahir Anand, Vice President and Principal Analyst with Aberdeen Group discussed the current state of the retail industry and the complexity of supply chains today. Phillips-Van Heusen is taking many initiatives to improve its global sourcing systems for its collection of world-class brands. Don Grant, Group Vice President, Wholesale Applications discussed the complications of maintaining a strong supply chain, showed the infrastructure that enabled increased collaboration and visibility, and provided a closer look at the integrated processes he has adopted to standardize and centralize product lifecycle management.

Sahir: Can you discuss dealing with thousands of suppliers… shortages of materials:

Materials management is such an important process, it’s an issue – material availability is an issue for apparel brands, fast fashion – is there a best practice that should be followed?

Thomas: Most of the retail brands need information, you deal with one level – the vendor – they don’t own all the factories, they don’t know how much material they have – how do we help them to get all the information they need? The whole network needs clarity to allow the information to get across accurately. There are cotton material shortages everywhere – resources are being fought for.

Don: There was a cotton shortage for the last twelve months – but it seems to be improving. But there is a fundamental problem in Asia – there is a dramatic increase for the need of the raw materials because the rising middle class wants to wear the same thing as the West.

The sophistication and complexity of that network is immense – so exactly how do you connect every factory in the world? There are hundreds of layers. And there is no silver bullet to make them happy.

But there are things that we can do to make the situation better…

Four best practices:

1. Tight control over raw materials
2. Tracking those materials
3. Data sharing/visibility
4. Booking/reservation of material

What you missed: NRF Big Show 2011 – Monday

Blogging from the Monday Sessions

Retail’s Road to Recovery: Status Report on the Global Economy

Consumer 2020: What Lies Ahead for the Retail Industry?

Kohl’s and Staples discuss sustainability innovation

Are Augmented Reality and Other Customer-facing Innovations the Next New Retail Frontier?

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See what you missed on Tuesday »

Are Augmented Reality and Other Customer-facing Innovations the Next New Retail Frontier?

NRF 11 Monday Session


Pattie Maes MIT Media Laboratory
CJ Bruno
VP, Intel


Pattie Maes (Associate Professor at MIT and one of GigaOM’s Top 15 Mobilize Influencers) and CJ Bruno (VP at Intel Corporation) discussed the future of retail, with emerging technologies bridging the physical and digital world. MIT Media Labs’ and Intel’s customer-facing innovations are attempting to revolutionize retail as we know it by allowing consumers and retailers alike will benefit from the best of both physical and virtual worlds, which Maes terms “augmented realities” that project digital information on products that a consumer picks up and points at. This digital shift in technology would turn “the real world into a new channel for retail and marketing,” making product information interactive and easily accessible.

But will this technology really bridge the technical divide? It seems a bit far off right now. The small size of mobile technology is not a huge limitation – and is actually progressing quite quickly. The interactive visual merchandising being demonstrated at the Intel booth is more likely where technology is headed for now.

Take a look at an interactive Adidas shoe display at the Intel booth, idea of Adidas VP of Global Retail Marketing, Chris Aubrey. Very cool!

Kohl’s and Staples: Partnering with the US EPA for Sustainability Innovation and Waste Reduction

Kohl’s and Staples present on the success of their sustainability innovation, waste management, and energy reduction…

NRF 11 Monday Session


Bob Valair Director of Energy and Environmental Management, Staples
Elizabeth Sommer Environmental Protection Agency
Jesse LaRose ESE Solutions
John Fojut Kohl’s Department Stores
Lorraine Graves Environmental Protection Agency
Robert Sauchelli US EPA ENERGY STAR Program
Tracy Back MS Environmental Protection Agency


Leaders from Kohl’s and Staples share how partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has had a positive impact on their organizations through mitigating compliance risks and supporting sustainability initiatives.  Their presentations covered environmental issues relevant to retailers including: waste reduction, environmentally preferable merchandising and energy management.  Compliance and sustainability resources are available on the EPA’s Retail Industry Portal with actionable information on how to get engaged with the EPA to achieve business goals while reducing your impact on the environment.

Consumer 2020: What Lies Ahead for the Retail Industry?

NRF 11 Monday Session


Alison Paul Vice Chairman and U.S. Retail Leader, Deloitte


Cathy Green President, Food Lion Family
Andrew Higginson
Chief Executive of Retailing Services and Group Strategy Director, Tesco
Ira Kalish Global
Director, Deloitte Research
Peter Sachse CMO, Macy’s; Chairman and CEO,

The Issue:

During the next decade, consumers will change dramatically, shaping a far different business environment than anything seen in recent years. Retiring “boomers” will buy less; GenY will shop primarily via smart phone or other handheald devices; and growth in emerging economies will create a new middle class along with a geographical shift in spending. Linking these trends at breathtaking speed are developments in media and technology that accelerate the proliferation of information and further empower consumers. Are retailers prepared to address these changes? What does the future have in store?

Alison: Let’s start off with trends that are dominating the industry…

Peter: Customer-centricity – having a 360 degree view of the customer is great to say, but hard to do. One of the most daunting and yet rewarding initiatives we undertook in marketing was a direct mail piece. In November we sent out a direct mail with 30,000 unique versions to users. That is personalization. That is much more relevant.

Andrew: At Tesco we find it imperative to make pricing information clear, as well as getting relevant information across in new and more helpful ways.

Cathy: I agree that personalization, is dominating the industry. We have started a coupon saving center with an MVP card that lets the customer see what is relevant that day.

Alison: Let’s talk about keeping it simple with the challenge of globalization

Cathy: I think it’s always a matter of leveraging people – but there ultimately needs to be a push toward making global retail local and relevant – you can learn good ways to do this from global partners

Andrew: For Europe it’s much more relevant to move globally. And you need to make sure your learning is global. Knowing what the local customers want. It’s a real challenge for retail – and you need to go in with eyes open.

Ira: Earlier we talked about re-balancing the global economy – the implication is that if you want to grow fast, it is not occurring in the US – but there are definite areas that are growing in the US, however, US retailers do have the coupled challenge of the opportunity for global expansion.

Andrew: It’s also about understanding consumer spend – which is one of the reasons why Tesco Bank was developed. And as consumers age, they need more services than goods.

Peter: It is interesting that Tesco has expanded in the multitude of areas it has.

Cathy: Turning millions of pieces of data into actionable insight. If you have the data coming in – you need to do something with it. Retailers that can do that will be strategically set up for 2011.

Ira: Changing demographics in US opens new opportunities, but it also opens more challenges. Localization and personalization is every retailers goal.

Peter: My Macy’s and customer centricity go hand in hand. It took robust technology, and more people. But two years after start of program, we are even closer to our customer than we were in the past, even though we’ve expanded.

Cathy: Customers want a personalized shopping experience. They want retail tailored to their needs. And we are starting a My Food Lion program, inspired by Macy’s initiatives.

Alison: Let’s talk about own label brands – how are they changing retail?

Andrew: Own label brands are 55% of our stock – it gives the customers more choice and it gives us more control over price and margin, which is sometimes easier and more profitable than working and negotiating with national brands. Own label has been absolutely critical to Tesco’s success. And it’s also about having different price points and quality for those brands. We have been able to use our own label brands in clothing internationally.

Cathy: There has been an explosion of private label brands – opportunity to build your own brands builds trust and loyalty, and allows for more innovation. But there is still a huge opportunity to partner w/ national brands.

Andrew: And ultimately it is always about pleasing the customer. They tell us what they want.

Alison: Let’s move on to sustainability and corporate responsibility, food crisis, and limited resources

Cathy: Sustainability is one of our three corporate imperatives. It went from being nice initially, to being crucial. We’re looking for opportunities to do that everywhere – products that are environmentally sustainable, products that are healthy and millennials are going to assess and judge us on how well we do that.

Andrew: Corporate responsibility is on our corporate steering wheel, but how do you measure it? If you can get that measurement on the package, you give the customer awareness to decide and make those choices.

Alison: “It goes back to the saying that we behave as we are measured.” So with all of this in mind, let’s make some predictions about which issue will be the most important in 2020…

Ira: Demand for commodities, energy, especially in India and Asia, as well as food prices.

Peter: In the short term – the entire world will become mobile, we will need to interact with the customer through the customers specific device, and in their network.

Cathy: Again, it all goes back to the point of data. And if you have the information about the customer coming in every day, from every channel, do something with it, predict what the customer wants before they walk into the store. With data – we can do it better – with information comes trust.