Inventory Planner by Sage

1. What’s your name and title, what do you do day-to-day in 20 words or fewer?

Ollie Slade, Partner Manager. Building trust within our community and trying to be the best conduit between our brilliant partners and the rest of our organisation.

2. At Inventory Planner you help meet demand and sales goals. Can you give us a success story for a D2C brand you’ve worked with. Eg what was the problem? what did you do? what were the results?

I’ll get into stats in a sec, but it’s the emotional side that does it for me.
People who have been brave enough to start their own business and grow it to a decent size, only to have hundreds of hours a month taken away by three gargantuan spreadsheets they need to spend evenings and weekends on, terrified of making mistakes as making bad decisions can sink even a profitable business.

For a bunch of 1s and 0s, it’s pretty moving. But don’t just take my word for it; as Reiss Edgerton, founder of gym wear brands AYBL, puts it –

“With Inventory Planner, you can become an instant expert in replenishment – able to do the job as well, if not better, than someone with 15 years of experience and in a fraction of the time.

It takes care of so much, including automatic replenishment, that I can be quite hands-off with merchandising and purchasing. It easily saves us around 100 hours a month – or thousands of hours a year! I want to be free to focus on the bigger picture.”

3. You specialise in inventory forecasts – what piece of advice would you give to DTC brands who want to improve inventory accuracy?

Make sure marketing and merchandising are truly collaborating.
Instead of just meeting once a week and running big promotions on overstocked products or cutting back on promotions for items in short supply, take a proactive approach and work closely with the data.

This brings me to the next crucial point: having everything integrated, with a single source of truth.
It’s a well-established fact in our industry that the most successful brands are those who harness the power of data.
Invest in a specialised platform for this purpose—one that seamlessly integrates all your sales channels and back-office operations into one unified system.

4. What do you think the biggest challenges facing eCommerce/D2C businesses will be over the next 12-18 months?

When it comes to demand and supply, the term ‘fragile’ seems to be thrown around a lot, and it strikes a chord. Disruptions are becoming more commonplace and are likely to persist.
But speaking from my experience of just a few years in ecom, I can’t help but wonder: Have supply chains always been this disrupted? Apologies to my Economics teachers—I swear I was paying attention.

Furthermore, direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands must continuously adapt to where they sell their products.
It’s fascinating to observe that we live in a world of extremes, where brands are currently debating whether to open a TikTok shop or a physical store.

Personally, I find it more thrilling when a beloved brand opens a physical store, but perhaps their CFO prefers the idea of launching a new digital channel.

5. Complete this sentence – DTC brands that survive and thrive in 2023 will …

Optimise inventory, avoiding both overstocking, which drains cash flow, and understocking, which leads to customer dissatisfaction and missed sales.

6. Name three D2C brands that are killing it and whom you recommend others to emulate/learn from.

Big Green Egg
Roka London