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Did retailers' holiday S&OP investments pay off?

by Bridget McCrea
Contributing Writer,

In November, reported on the critical selling period that retailers were about to dive into and the role that S&OP (sales and operations planning) would play in helping those companies allocate and distribute inventory across multiple selling channels.

Mike Griswold, vice president of research for Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, Inc., gave his predictions on the looming holiday season and felt that overall, retailers were more prepared for the onslaught than they were the previous year. Those using ERPs like Microsoft Dynamics, he said, would likely be able to execute on both the demand and operations sides of the distribution equation and "figure out where inventory needs to be in order to meet demand."

With the 2013-14 holiday selling season - and its last-minute shipping snafus and retail-level security breaches - slowly fading in the rearview mirror, Griswold says his research revealed an uptick in holiday retail sales of roughly 2.5 percent (before inflation). "That's pretty good," he says, noting that for most corporations, the holidays went "pretty well" from both the revenue and the execution perspective.

"We didn't hear about any major pitfalls around e-commerce orders falling through the cracks like we had a few years ago with companies like Best Buy," says Griswold, adding that Target at one point created an "order online and pick up in the store" approach that was overshadowed by the news of the retailer's security breach. "There was so much other press about Target that the company's ecommerce strategy was lost."

In terms of S&OP, Griswold says the retail sector is "getting better at it," but he also notes that the process itself ...

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About Bridget McCrea

Bridget McCrea covers business and technology topics for various publications. She can be reached at

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