Spring has officially kicked off, and as I think about the retail planning cycle, I know the holidays are already on everyone’s minds. Eighty percent of retail sales happen between the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas. As a result, Q1 may be coming to a close, but Q4 planning can never start too early.

My first job out of college I found myself working in Minneapolis as a Business Analyst at Target HQ. One of the highlights of my time there was the year I spent on the Meat team and leading the turkey and ham strategy across 200 Super Target stores. Essentially, my job was to plan all year to make sure our guests had a beautiful meal set on the table for the holidays. No pressure, right?

This job required detailed strategy, meticulous planning, and flawless execution. I first had to coordinate across several departments at headquarters—marketing, advertising, deli, produce, etc.—to agree on what items to showcase for the Sunday circular ad. Then based on the previous year’s sales, our forecast, and inventory levels at the warehouse, I had to order and allocate my inventory shipments by location and week with my vendors. Finally, I had to communicate this strategy to all my field merchants for regional store support—they helped me consider local needs like, turducken in Louisiana—and send out a mass email communication to all stores. The planning took nearly seven months and impacted hundreds of people. It truly takes a village!

As Thanksgiving approached, I sat back at headquarters waiting for the numbers to roll in. I could tell from my reports that stores in the Florida area were out of medium sized turkeys and in need of additional inventory. However, the warehouse closest to them had run out of those sizes. In an effort to assess the entire situation, I had to coordinate with my southeast field merchant, make a few calls to stores in Florida, and speak to the warehouse to devise a plan. We decided to run a special delivery from a warehouse in the midwest that had additional inventory and send it down to Florida. It felt like a SWAT team jumped into motion to coordinate this contingency plan, but in the end, the job got done. More importantly, guests who came in to the store could could buy their holiday meal without any awareness of the back-end logistics.

I felt proud of what we had accomplished in a concerted effort. I even won an award for executing this strategy and hitting my sales targets. But in recapping this near debacle, I wish there could have been a more efficient and effective way to facilitate the entire process from the data collection and decision-making to the communication plan and the resulting actions.

Here’s where Square Root’s Store Relationship Management platform comes in. Our clients struggle with similar scenarios daily, whether launching a new initiative, reacting to a crisis, or responding to competitive threats. They need a platform to help drive corporate strategy down to store level execution; to empower district managers to build relationships and coach their store managers; and to enable widely dispersed stores to collaborate and share best practices.

CoEFFICIENT® was created to do just that—rally the entire company to deliver your brand promise to the end consumer—without the customer realizing what it takes. Get the right information to quickly make decisions, communicate across multiple channels, and take actions that improve your store experience. In a perfect world, every store would perform like your best store. With a platform like CoEFFICIENT, we aspire to make this a reality.

Are you struggling to execute your turkey strategy or similar large company initiatives? Find out how CoEFFICIENT can help your organization take a new approach to retail operations. Request a demo today.

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Image Source: Satya Murthy, Copyright 2010

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