omni-channel & international planning

Contrary to the predictions of the omni-channel scaremongers the importance of the physical store has become even more prevalent in today’s retail markets, but in line with many retail professionals’ predictions the multi-channel world has demanded a decisive change of focus, scale and retail role within the wider business.

Physical stores have become more physical than ever, their importance to build theatre and brand experience, to generate emotional attachment and brand loyalty with customers crossing all channel boundaries for the benefit of the retailer as a whole.



But whilst the physical store has evolved to be decisively different from the online equivalent, against the equally erroneous prediction of the morphing of the two interfaces, the delivery of a consistent end-to-end experience has demanded ever more integration and collaboration between an ever wider range of functions, teams and individuals.

If you work for a retailer, you must be a retailer, whether a buyer, a designer, in finance or IT, store assistant or managing director, and you must all act with the same retail head.


It is not only omni-channel that requires more precise planning and integration. In a world of stagnating, ever more competitive home markets retailers are also being forced to move internationally in the search for like-minded customers and additional sales.

The challenges that this essential dual attack bring are many, however often the harder more painful development is not in the adoption of new skills and functions but in the development of existing departments and cultures to this new world.

Retail still ultimately is about product, places and people.


In terms of product the retailer needs to square the circle of a smaller assortment width, less and more focused options, with the need to spread, group and grade this assortment in many more appropriate and profitable ways. How should the store assortment change and react to the omni-channel assortment?  What would a customer expect to buy in physical stores whilst accept to buy only on-line? What ranges are essential for authority and brand inspiration in the theatre of the store?


The answers come as always from internal examination and external benchmarking. What any store assortment should be, should always be initially defined by what has gone and sold before, how quickly it sold, how efficiently it was refreshed and replenished.

Retail in a physical store is 4-dimensional and assortment grading, allocation and replenishment is equally dynamic. In planning the clustering of stores and ranges display density and also rate of sale become the key parameters for solving the planning puzzles.

Across all channels the mission to fuel sales where they happen and to starve them where they do not is the larger but no less familiar conundrum of old and the key to reduced markdowns, increased margin, maximum rate of sale and ultimately gross profit.

Whilst the challenges of physical and online internationalism also contribute to the complexities of the assortment planning process, more physical stores with a wider geographical range also raise questions of control and management. As with all empires a weak structure close to home will only be magnified when it is exported further afield, and so just as with omni-channel development the challenges are often again not linked specifically to new technologies and functions but to the development, updating and strengthening of existing processes whose inadequacies have often been shrouded by the soft focus of convenience and hands-on management.

Whether a portfolio is immediate, local, regional, national or truly international the prevailing question is around Compliance or Education. How much should a brand demand that every store, every sales assistant be bound by strict rules, or whether they should allow freedom within a framework of brand values and commercial sensitivities? The decision is critical but the tools, processes, culture that needs to be in place to support or enforce the decision are no less important in ensuring that the dictate from on high becomes nothing more than hollow word.

In an omni-channel, international nutshell, retail has always been complex and always required the integration of many retail functions. New market developments for sure now demand the introduction of new technologies and skill-sets but the ultimate success or failure will revert back to the integration of the two essential bedrocks of retail buying & selling.

More than ever, retailers must buy the correct assortment, and through more advanced grouping, grading and visual display must be better at selling than ever before through new channels and in new markets. Compliance and education – from the boardroom to the stockroom!




Our expert workshops:

Omni-channel, international & store merchandising planning workshops:

VM-Unleashed’s 1-day workshop discusses all areas in the delivery of attractive & profitable stores through best practice merchandise and store planning and management in an omni-channel & international context through the integration between essential retail functions.

It is personalised to the audience, to the sector and to the job function and objectives of the retailer team present, however most benefit is achieved from an attendance from across retail departments and essentially buying & merchandising, visual merchandising, marketing, space planning, commercial, sales and store operations teams.

The workshop process can also include a day of client store visits and discussions leading to a review in the workshop of the client’s stores, as well as reviews and reference to competitors and current international best practice stores. The workshop itself is a combination of visual stimulation and process insights.

Every workshop is written and delivered to be as relevant and productive for each client as possible including both individual and team exercises and discussions.

The typical agenda is as below, waiting your personal additions and requirements:

    • Assortment structure planning
    • Assortment segmentation and grading
    • Store, channel and market clustering
    • Store capacities and display densities
    • KPI measurement rate of sale and weeks cover
    • Product stories and allocation
    • Flexibility within the assortment framework
    • Managing selling across store portfolios
    • Compliance or Education
    • Tools and processes for compliance
    • Training & Communication for education
    • The modern VMToolkit
    • “Front of visual” and “Front of mind” tools
    • Technologies for store monitoring
    • Remote training technologies
    • VM Guardians, rules regimes and responsibilities

Different modules can be combined to create personalised workshops.

For more information:

+44 (0)7967 609849


Our specialist services:

omni-channel assortment grading & allocation

“How should my assortment be edited and allocated to deliver a more commercial omni-channel proposition and a commercial physical store capacity, by how many options should it be reduced, which products should be edited, and which remaining products should form the new physical store assortment structure?


A combination of qualitative and quantitative benchmarking of both the in-store and online assortments of commercial best practice competitors, and the internal KPI assessment by best seller, worst seller and 80:20 breakdowns of the client’s in-store and online assortments.

    • External benchmarking – “looking outside”
    • Quantitative benchmarking of best practice competitor physical store assortment and online assortment by total size and by department, category, brands and other segment…
    • Internal benchmarking – “looking inside”
    • Quantitative assessment within typical client stores of total assortment capacities and breakdown by department, category, brand and other relevant segments
    • Quantitative Assortment benchmarking of the client online store assortment
    • Cross-analysis of major segments % space against % sales/profit
    • Analysis of the variation between clients online and store assortments
    • Comparison of assortment differences of online and stores between client and best practice competitors


    • Identify the principles of edited store assortments of best practice competitors for application to client assortment structures – as a total and by department, category, brands and other relevant segments
    • To identify by segment and range the relative sales contribution online and in physical stores, and to equate this to the physical assortment present in store
    • To conclude the size and breakdown by department, category, brand…the optimum client omnichannel assortment for stores


    • Online & store assortment structure measurement and analysis of best practice competitors
    • Online & store assortment structure measurement, analysis and comparison for client stores
    • Client KPI sales analysis for online & in-stores by total, department, category and sku
    • Recommendation of quantitative and qualitative assortment editing and grading for stores

For more information click the link

omni-channel assortment grading & allocation

+44 (0)7967 609849


Our specialist services:

International store assortment grading benchmarking

“What should I consider and implement differently when I open stores in other countries – assortment editing & grouping, space location & density, pricing & promotions, display, store layout, customer service…?”


Assessment of current store delivery parameters in the retailer’s native country, benchmarked against same parameters of best practice competitors in the target country.

    • Assessment of current sales performance KPIs across store areas, depts. and categories
    • Prioritisation of store delivery elements that contribute to maximum sales & ROI
    • Identification of essential delivery elements for brand proposition
    • Benchmarking of destination country best practice competitors
    • Analysis of other native retailers now operating in destination countries


    • Identify differences in product “taste” and reflect that in the edited assortment
    • Identify seasonal differences and modify assortment waves and clusters through time
    • Identify the balance in different product grouping, coordination and categories
    • Identify the correct display techniques related to local buying behaviour
    • Identify local trends in store layouts and adjacencies
    • Identify local opportunities and dangers in levels of store implementation and maintenance
    • Identify needs and opportunities for VM tools, guidance and training
    • Identify local store operations needs
    • Identify local expectations of self-service and customer service


    • Analyse client store sales performance and key deliverables in existing market
    • Identify important store delivery mechanisms related to sales and brand image
    • Identify opportunities for delivery in existing market into new market
    • Benchmark best practice competitor store delivery trends
    • Benchmark native retailers in new markets
    • Identify essential trends to be adopted into stores in the new market
    • Identify new delivery mechanisms with maximum ROI
    • Identify essential “pitfalls” to avoid
    • Identify support required in new country via social media, web and loyalty programmes
    • Devise action plan for store delivery in new country

For more information click the link

International store assortment grading benchmarking

+44 (0)7967 609849




Whether you are an established player, or a new kid on the retail block, we can probably help improve your efficiency, your expertise, your store delivery and of course your sales performance and profitability.

I look forward to hearing your questions, whether large or small.

Always expert and easily accessible.

Thank you.

+44 (0)7967 609849


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