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  • Writer's pictureAnat Yaniv

Best Practices for Aligning Inventory Management & Marketing

Updated: Jul 12

For my first Black Friday with Tag post, I’m featuring my dear colleague Mary Wiegand, Founder & CEO of Boon LLC and long time trusted inventory demand and planning partner of Tag. 


For retail brands, seamless coordination between marketing and inventory management teams is crucial for every campaign but especially during Black Friday, often one of the biggest campaigns of the year with high expectations and significant business impacts. 


To shed light on best practices and strategies for fostering this collaboration, Mary was kind enough to share her insights on how marketing and inventory teams can best work together. 

What are some tips/best practices marketing teams should keep in mind when working with inventory planning teams? 


Regular Communication and Collaboration: Establish frequent and open communication channels with the inventory planning team. Regularly share campaign plans, promotional calendars, and anticipated demand forecasts. This collaboration helps align marketing initiatives with available inventory.


Understand Inventory Constraints: Gain a clear understanding of inventory constraints and limitations. This knowledge helps in planning realistic timelines for any marketing campaigns and helps ensure product is available for customer purchase at the time the campaigns are live. 


Provide Accurate Forecasts: Marketing teams should provide accurate impacts to forecasts based on market research, historical data, and campaign insights. This helps inventory planners anticipate demand spikes and adjust stock levels accordingly.


Flexibility and Adaptability: Be flexible in adjusting marketing strategies based on inventory availability. Have contingency plans in place to manage unexpected changes in inventory levels or demand patterns.


Collaborative Problem Solving: When challenges arise, collaborate with the inventory planning team to find solutions. This could involve adjusting campaign timelines, reallocating inventory, or modifying promotional strategies. And remember the challenges can stem from any number of business factors, it is not a blame game!

Any examples/lessons learned from inventory and marketing teams working well together/not well together that you think can help illustrate this point? 


Working Well Together


Collaborative Planning:

The inventory team of a top swim brand regularly communicates with marketing to understand upcoming promotions or campaigns. By working closely, the inventory team is able to anticipate demand spikes and ensure sufficient stock levels, avoiding stock outs or overstock situations, even down to the style level. 


Agile Response to Trends:

The marketing team of an outdoor apparel brand promptly informs the inventory team of a sudden trend in plaid items given a viral post with one of their key plaid tops.  Then the inventory planners are able to adjust reorder strategies swiftly, ensuring that there is enough plaid to continue to satisfy customers and capitalizing on demand peaks.


Not Working Well Together


Miscommunication on Promotions:

Marketing team of a baby brand launches a surprise promotion without informing the inventory team. Unfortunately the item that is featured in the campaign is out of stock and thus customers cannot convert. This results in the promotion not achieving any of the necessary KPIs and even worse,  damaging customer satisfaction. 


Inadequate Demand Forecasting:

The Inventory planners of a beauty brand fail to provide accurate stock availability information to the marketing team. Without this information, the marketing campaigns may promise product availability that cannot be met, leading to customer disappointment and loss of trust.

What are the most important things for marketing teams to know about inventory planning? 


It is critical to know the key piece of information that your inventory planning team can provide to you (Inventory levels) and how that will impact your functional area (Impact to Promotions & Campaigns) 


Inventory Levels: Remember, the inventory has to be available to ship in order to get customers to convert! Stay aware of the current inventory levels and seasonal demand patterns across the assortment! 


Impact of Promotions and Campaigns: Recognize how marketing initiatives can impact inventory levels. Certain promotions will  require additional stock allocation or advanced purchasing to support the campaign. 


By fostering a collaborative relationship with inventory planning teams, marketing teams can enhance campaign effectiveness, improve customer satisfaction, and drive overall business success. Understanding each other's roles and challenges is key to achieving mutual goals.

How can marketing teams best involve inventory teams in their promotion planning? 


Create a relationship of confidence and trust with your inventory partner. If you can create the relationship of strong collaboration the KPIs for both functional areas will improve. Remember you ultimately are both working toward the same goal!


I hope you find Mary’s advice on how to best work with inventory teams helpful as you start your Black Friday campaign planning! 


To follow along with all of my Black Friday campaign tips, be sure to follow #Tipsbytag on LinkedIn and bookmark this page which will be regularly updated with all Black Friday campaign planning content! 


_______________________

👋 I’m Anat Yaniv, founder of TAG Marketing

👥A collective of B2C experts, handling 360° marketing efforts 

🪴For growing Ecommerce brands who are not ready to hire a full in-house team



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Lauren Hopps
Lauren Hopps
6월 07일

What an insightful post from TAG and Boon LLC. Thanks for putting this together! A showcase of how Marketing and Inventory teams can collaborate!

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