Simons keeps in style using Retalon AI

  • May 12, 2020
  • imc

Canadian fashion retailer Simons is optimising 250,000 styles and colours using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics from Toronto-based Retalon.

As Simons grew across Canada opening some stores larger than 10,200m2 across several provinces and expanded ecommerce into the US market, it needed a more accurate, efficient and scalable way to maintain optimal assortment levels. The retailer searched for a smart approach that would allow it to reduce inventory cost while maintaining customer service and that would keep up with growth.

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

Simons CEO Peter Simons is the fifth generation of the family to run the business founded in Quebec City in 1840.

“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,” he said. “In this era where the customers talk to you through those 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 those data more gradually and make better decisions.”

The fashion retailer turns over 250,000 styles and colours 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 was challenging considering factors such as seasonality, fulfilment methods, pricing and lead times.

The geographical expansion also required a more accurate, sustainable, scalable approach. Simons’ flagship locations span over 4500km. The company needed to optimise inventory and fulfilment with a low impact on cost, customer experience and the environment.

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

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

The retailer also uses Retalon’s forecast to account for warehouse labour demand to schedule labour during crucial seasonal peaks such as Black Friday 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, vice president for 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.”

Retalon is working with major retailers across North America, Europe and the Caribbean and has pioneered predictive analytics and AI technology since 2002. Retalon says it is the first retail AI platform to offer end-to-end options for forecasting, merchandise planning, inventory optimisation, price management, promotions and markdowns.

“Partnering with the Simons team goes far beyond collaboration between two organisations,” 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.”

La Maison Simons was founded by John Simons in 1840 as a dry goods store in Old Quebec that imported products from England and Scotland. By 1952, Simons modernised and became a specialty retailer, quickly establishing itself as Quebec’s fashion leader.