Navigating Retail’s New Horizons and Revolutionizing Success

Produced by


Bob Debicki

Sr. Director, Global CPG & Retail Industries

Sona Sukumaran

Director of Anaplan CoE

In this discussion on navigating retail's new horizons and revolutionizing success, Bob Debicki, Senior Director of Global CPG & Retail Industries at Anaplan, and Sona Sukumaran, Director of Anaplan CoE at Carter's, shared their invaluable experiences and strategies for transforming retail planning. The conversation delved into the critical role of Centers of Excellence (COE) in driving connected planning, the evolution of use cases, and the importance of business partnerships in achieving success.

Bob Debicki emphasized the significance of COEs in enabling business subject matter experts to take control of their models while adhering to best practices. He highlighted the need for internal recruitment and training to ensure that model builders understand the intricacies of the business.

Sona Sukumaran shared Carter's journey with Anaplan, showcasing the expansion of models from financial planning to procurement and wholesale strategies. She emphasized the importance of leveraging both in-house expertise and external consultants to tailor solutions to specific business needs. She explained, "On the retail side, we use Impact Analytics for retail forecasting and on wholesale side, we use machine learning outside of Impact Analytics. We use different technologies to get an ML forecast, ingesting data into procurement plan we created on Anaplan for a comprehensive demand plan." On the retail side, the advantage lies in the ability of Impact Analytics to react quickly to current promotions, while on the wholesale side, machine learning models leverage historical booking data and wholesaler trends to forecast demand. These different approaches to demand planning cater to the specific needs of each segment. Despite the differences, these forecasts can be seamlessly integrated into Ana plan to generate a comprehensive global procurement schedule. This integration likely streamlines the planning process, ensuring efficient management of inventory and resources across both retail and wholesale channels.

The discussion also touched upon the evolution from single focused use cases to a connected planning vision. Sona emphasized the value of having one source of truth for plans, aligning data systems and analytics. She stated, "The key is having one source of truth for our plans, especially for quarters." She further elaborated on the integration and visibility benefits of scaling out multiple use cases, emphasizing the power of connected planning in driving business alignment and efficiency.

As the conversation delved into lessons learned, Sona emphasized the importance of building a strong team from within the organization. She highlighted the role of subject matter experts in driving model evolution and iterative improvements. Sona shared, "Recruiting from within and training them on how to build the model ensures rapid iteration and successful adoption." Bob echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the value of internal expertize in understanding business nuances and driving change management effectively.

Addressing audience queries, Sona provided insights on garnering executive support for process improvements. She stressed the significance of open discussions to identify pain points and operational gaps. Sona advised, "Encouraging stakeholders to share their challenges and processes helps pinpoint areas for enhancement, even if initial reluctance exists." Bob added, "C-suite executives often respond positively to competitive insights, leveraging industry trends to drive organizational transformation."

In conclusion, the discussion highlighted the transformative power of Anaplan in revolutionizing retail planning. Through strategic COEs, integrated technologies, and strong partnerships, retail organizations can navigate new horizons and achieve unparalleled success in the dynamic retail landscape. Bob and Sona's insights serve as a guiding light for retailers looking to embrace connected planning and drive innovation in their operations.

APRIL 2024