Simons Optimizes Inventory With AI & Predictive Analytics

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
Jamie goodman

Canadian fashion retailer Simons continues to demonstrate innovation in retail merchandising by partnering with retail artificial intellegence (AI) and predictive analytics firm, Retalon.

As Simons grew across Canada opening as large as 110,000-plus-square-foot stores across several provinces and expanded e-commerce into the U.S. market, they needed a more accurate, efficient, and scalable way to maintain optimal assortment levels. They searched for a smart approach that would allow them to minimize inventory cost while maintaining customer service excellence and that would keep up with their growth.

The company turned to Retalon to accurately forecast demand, generate shipments, allocate products, calculate replenishment, and optimize promotions using predictive analytics and AI.

"Today, in the 21st century, we are moving to a much more granular approach to looking at data, and that's where Retalon comes in for me," said CEO Peter Simons, the 5th generation of the family to run the business founded in 1840. "In this era where the customers talk to you through that data, to be able to really hear not only when they're shouting things but also just whispering very quietly, Retalon helps us move through that data more gradually and make better decisions."

The fashion retailer turns over 250,000 style/colors a year and offers a wide range of sizes with much of its assortment having shorter lifecycles. Forecasting demand down to a single product for every store and DC was challenging considering factors like seasonality, fulfillment methods, pricing, lead times, and much more.

The geographical expansion also required a more accurate, sustainable, scalable approach. Simons needed to optimize inventory and fulfillment with a minimal impact on cost, customer experience, and the environment.

Prior to the new solution, it was the buyers that managed inventory, promotions, and transfers at stores. The new approach enabled Simons to automate and reduce time buyers spent on this process.

Simons implemented analytics for improved insight on projected demand and inventory optimization recommendations that get the right product to the right store proactively. Retalon also optimizes thousands of promotions a year for Simons, accurately predicting uplifts and optimizing inventory proactively.

The retailer also uses forecast to account for warehouse labor demand to better schedule labor during crucial seasonal peaks like Black Friday in order to execute hundreds of thousands of picks efficiently.

"We were looking for a company that would not just give us a black box that we would get an answer out of and always question it," said Gary Craig, VP, Informational Technology at Simons, "What we found is that we're able to work directly with the Retalon team, we get right to point, and solve problems quickly."

"Partnering with the Simons team goes far beyond collaboration between two organizations," said Retalon CEO, Mark Krupnik, "We are proud of the solution we have built for retailers, and it is an amazing feeling when you work with people who understand it, take full advantage of what our analytics can offer, and have vision for the next big thing retailers need, that helps us to align our development goals."

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