CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
October 24, 2018
Forward Thinking

Retailing is rocket science

Forward Thinking
New book says that complex analytics are transforming supply chain performance in the retail industry.

Rocket-science retailing? That's what retailers need to practice these days in order to reduce costs and drive revenue, according to the authors of the book The New Science of Retailing: How Analytics Are Transforming the Supply Chain and Improving Performance.

Rocket-science retailing involves mining retailers' "treasure trove" of customer transaction data and then using analytics to make smarter business decisions, according to authors Marshall Fisher of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and Ananth Raman of the Harvard Business School. By using analytical data, retailers can better decide how much inventory to carry for each product in their stores. They can also use that data to craft a more profitable way to deal with markdowns and create a flexible supply chain that responds quickly to demand signals. In addition, the authors argue that this data analysis can be used to improve retail forecasts and develop new practices for dealing with retail management challenges.

The book spotlights a number of international companies that are using retail analytics to create more flexible supply chains, including Spanish clothing retailer Zara, Japanese retailer World, and Japanese manufacturer National Bicycle.

The authors themselves have a history of working on analytic projects, having co-founded 4R Systems Inc., a software and consulting firm that provides analytics services.

Published by Harvard Business Press, The New Science of Retailing: How Analytics Are Transforming the Supply Chain and Improving Performance sells for US $29.95.

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