• Joanne Neidorf

The Impact of Successful Training

The mission of Merchant Insight is to improve the confidence and performance of retail Merchants and Planners. So we are thrilled with the recent feedback from a European department store where we delivered a Planning Master Class that we achieved that goal for both participants and management.

The format for the Planning Master Class combined online materials, pre-class assignments and in-person sessions, all designed to:

  • Demonstrate the relationship between inventory, sales and margin in a merchandise financial plan

  • Challenge participants on how they think about building a plan and what they should be considering

  • Improve their ability to re-forecast and manage the business in-season

  • Improve their ability to communicate both their insights and proposed actions to their buying partners and their managers

Based on the feedback from both the Planners and their Managers, the training has had a powerful and positive impact.

Did They Learn Something?

Every single participant reported that they learned things that would help them be more effective Planners.

Specific learnings cited:

"The MFP and OTB process is now more clear for me."

"For forecasting - the ground rules I have learned will help me alot."

"Made me realize [I need] to reserve more time for analyzing instead of the daily hassles."

"I'm far more aware of each different aspect [sales, margin, inventory] and how they move together and are dependent [on] each other."

"I feel more secure about the knowledge I have to be able to review the business."

And it's not just the Planners reporting they have learned something valuable. The Managers also report a demonstrable improvement in understanding, as captured in this comment:

"I saw a huge improvement in her ability to grab the concept of forecasting and looking at figures compared to the previous months' OTB meeting."

Are They Using New Approaches?

Since the Master Class, we also see evidence that the Planners approach their work with greater savvy.

As part of the class, participants were exposed to multiple approaches for building a plan and re-forecasting their sales, inventory and margin.

The Planners cited these discussions - and the chance to learn how others approach the same activities - as having a large influence on their own thinking going forward.

Furthermore, their Managers report that most of the Planners have added new forecasting approaches to their toolkit following the class.

Has Their Thinking Been Challenged and Deepened?

In their own words:

"It's good to see that we should not only focus on 'what' but more importantly, on 'why.'"

"Helps me be more 'fluent' during OTB meetings with both Planning and Buying Managers."

"Forces me to stop my work and actually think about what I am doing - and more importantly, why I am doing it."

"Challenges me to think of my plan - how much stock is connected to sales and margin."

And from their Manager:

"I've seen the Planners present with more confidence, make 'bolder' decisions and clearly articulate why they would or would not reach the target sales plan in coming months."

Are They Inspired to Continue Learning and Improving?

Finally, learning and development is a continual process, and training opportunities should energize, challenge and inspire learners to keep learning.

Planners noted that participating in this class challenged them to reconsider their usual ways of working and inspired them to stay sharp.

Our Planning Master Class leverages Merchant Insight's

A unique learning and development program that delivers relevant, action-oriented training to improve the day-to-day and strategic decision-making skills of retail Buyers and Planners.

If you'd like more information on Merchant Academy or our blended online/offline training options, please contact us at info@merchant-insight.com.

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