New Merchandising Process Provides a More Holistic View of the Enterprise at Eileen Fisher

Since its founding, Eileen Fisher has been a leader in human rights and sustainability, and its current Vision 2020 plan frames the pursuit of these goals as “not the effect of a particular initiative, but the cause of a business well run.” In other words, when you do things the right way, the result will be better for everyone.

To achieve its vision, the company realized one thing it needed to do was to improve both its merchandising processes and technology; it understood that making changes in these areas would impact the entire organization, from merchandising to design to sourcing and across sales channels. In deciding to change its workflows and implement a new merchandising planning system, the company brought in Columbus Consulting International to develop an integrated business process from design to distribution, which focused on introducing a merchandise financial planning function and creating a company-wide universal calendar to support the business cross-functionally.

Thus began an eight-week project. The consulting group interviewed 45 key associates across all of the organization’s functions to gain an understanding of the current processes. It then created a process workshop with 20 members of the company to design the future processes and work to create the high-level process and organizational requirements, as well as a detailed company-wide calendar dubbed the “virtual binder,” designed to serve as the roadmap for next steps and connect the entire organization along the way.

This has enabled Eileen Fisher to infuse the creative process with customer-centric data and channel business plans, and to develop an assortment plan that will integrate input from all cross-functional partners. The universal calendar also ensures that each step in the process informs the next step, providing transparency throughout the organization.

With a new merchandise plan in place, the company has better visibility and can better ensure that all components — including the creative design process, merchandising, marketing initiatives and sellin strategies — support Vision2020.

Jordan K. Speer is editor in chief of Apparel. She can be reached at [email protected].

Editor's Note: Eileen Fisher is a 2018 Apparel Innovator. Read about all of our Award winners here.

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