The top strategic initiative for retailers is...

It really is—or should be—all about the customer.

Customer-centricity ranked as the top strategic initiative in a new report from BRP. According to the report, retailers must accommodate customers who “pre-shop” for merchandise online before they ever enter a store, want one-day or even same-day delivery, and expect “more” from their shopping experience – more personalization, a larger assortment, a more fulfilling experience and non-stop entertainment. Customer-led demand is driving retailers to transform their business to be more customer-centric.

“Customers use technology daily to enable and control their shopping journey,” said Gene Bornac, senior VP at BRP. “Now it is up to retailers to play catch up with their organization, processes and technology to deliver the right products for the right price in the right place.”

According to BRP's 2017 Merchandise Planning Benchmark Survey, it is imperative that retailers take a customer-centric viewpoint.

"To innovate the customer experience, they must transform their disparate systems, processes and organization into one cohesive environment with the ability to offer customers a seamless shopping environment across any channel and the capability to deliver merchandise immediately - wherever it is needed," the reported stated. "It is time to prepare for the future of retail – it is here – whether we are ready or not," the report stated.

To prepare for today’s new retail model, BRP said retailers need to do the following:

•Align the organization
·58% of retailers currently have an integrated planning organization across channels;

•Integrate planning processes
·64% of retailers have integrated their business planning processes across channels;

•Implement the right technology
·33% of retailers have implemented new omni-channel demand planning systems within the last two years;

•Prioritize customer insight
·42% of retailers incorporate real-time customer feedback into their in-season planning; and

•Take action
·19% of retailers must overcome IT/business resource constraints to advance their planning activities.