Collaborative Planning Hubs for Retail

e.Intelligence, Fusion Labs partner on managed service to improve demand generation, forecast accuracy

Minneapolis, MN  August 26, 2002  Solution providers e.Intelligence and Fusion Laboratories are partnering to bring to market "collaborative planning hubs" that they say will enable retailers and manufacturers to improve revenue and margins by better planning and coordinating demand generating activities.

Retailers and manufacturers share responsibility for demand creation; however, each has different operational and financial goals driving their decision-making. To achieve these different goals, both parties need to share certain pieces of information while keeping other key pieces of information private. Collaborative planning hubs are intended to support secure information sharing while addressing the unique analytic requirements of each participant.

The two providers say that the hubs allow department stores, mass merchandisers and other retailers, as well as their vendors, to more effectively plan, manage and track demand by sharing key information and collaborating on ongoing planning and execution.

"Collaboration is not a simple exchange of forecasts or sales data," said Rick Tanler, founder and CEO of e.Intelligence. "True collaboration requires that both the retailer and the manufacturer have the ability to share key elements of their analysis, reach consensus and most importantly, work together to execute plans to achieve their goals."

The potential benefits of the hubs include improved inventory level management and reduced out-of-stocks, markdowns, returns and spoilage. The shared results would include improved margin, increased revenue, higher levels of profitability and improved customer service for both the retailer and the manufacturer.

In addition, because it is a managed service, the retailer and manufacturer do not have to apply internal resources to manage and maintain the solution, the providers say.

e.Intelligence and Fusion Labs will jointly develop and market the hubs, and Fusion Labs will manage the solution and provide process integration capabilities. The hubs will use e.Intelligence's software for demand planning and analysis.

Jack Haedicke, president of Arena Consulting and co-chair of VICS CPFR n-Tier Committee, suggested that industry collaboration has proven itself in terms of increased sales, reduced out of stocks and lowered inventories. "What has been missing is a simple to use collaborative system solution," Haedicke asserted, adding, "Combined, the resources of e.Intelligence and Fusion Labs make that solution a reality."

"Together, we are providing retailers and their vendors an effective and efficient collaborative demand planning solution that improves operational efficiencies and increases demand for products moving through the demand chain," said Brian Blackmarr, Fusion Labs' president and CEO.