Retailers looking to more efficiently use product attributes when planning what to sell have a new tool in the upgraded JDA Enterprise Planning Suite.
Version 7.5 of the software, announced April 2, incorporates applications for planning, assortment and analysis. According to Jim Brown, vice president of planning and allocation solutions for JDA Software Group, the suite provides retailers the capability to dynamically plan and analyze by attribute.
"You can group products together by whatever attributes you need for planning," Brown said. "It's where art and science come together. At a certain level of planning, science seems to take over, but merchandising is about art and creativity. Planning by attribute allows merchandisers to focus on the pieces of product and location hierarchy that make sense."
Brown said that because merchandisers can dynamically plan by attribute as part of the solution's built-in workflow, they don't have to pre-think their planning activities.
"They can immediately react to what's going on in the marketplace," he said. "It gives creative flexibility back to them to make product purchase decisions without thinking about workflows."
Christine Girodroux, senior product director of the Enterprise Planning Suite for JDA, said traditional planning hierarchies may be obsolete.
"Enterprise Planning allows retailers to look at attributes in the way customers are shopping-based on price points, brands and the characteristics of stores," Girodroux said.
Brown said the updated suite also frees retailers from the restrictions of spreadsheet-based planning environments.
"It supplants and replaces spreadsheet environments," he said. "You can get to low-level detail and take the internal focus away from budgeting and shift it to thinking about how your customers shop and buy your products."
Through integration with JDA point solutions, Brown said Enterprise Planning can perform channel clustering, which enables retailers to determine common selling patterns and tailor store assortments to customer needs.
In addition, he said Enterprise Planning offers enhanced scalability with synchronized planning, analysis, assortment and allocation systems that are integrated with execution systems.
"You can seamlessly connect planning to execution with the same look and feel, same workflow, and minimal training," Brown said.
Mike Griswold, an analyst with AMR Research, said the latest version of JDA Enterprise Planning does a good job of linking planning and execution.
"Retailers and IT providers are starting to bring planning and execution together," Griswold said. "Food retailers can plan their assortments and have that information to flow into their planograms. Retailers with less granular planning needs can create categorical department layouts."
He also said that utilizing forecasting capability obtained from its 2006 purchase of supply chain technology vendor Manugistics, JDA is able to provide Enterprise Planning users with a single view of demand that they can apply throughout the application.
JDA Enterprise Planning 7.5 consists of the JDA Enterprise Planning, Assortment Planning, Performance Analysis, and Enterprise Knowledge Base modules. It runs on the JDA Arthur 7.5 planning engine.
Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out eWEEK.com's Retail Site.