Retail Planning: How to Prioritize?
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Categories: Thought Leadership

Retail Planning: How to Prioritize?

Retail is a hypercompetitive business. As decision makers you have to make choices daily. On some of the big strategic retail planning initiatives, you have to make tough choices that will impact your business, revenues, market share, and sometimes career. As an executive you can’t take these lightly. To balance it out, you also need to avoid analysis paralysis, that often grips large enterprises. We all need quick ways to assess, compare and prioritize projects that impact the business. Frankly it’s about working on the important projects rather than working on figuring out which projects are important.

It's about working on the important projects rather than working on figuring out which projects are important

Quick as ICE

You mean ‘cold as ice’? Nope.

In the book “Growth Hacking: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success,” Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown spell out a very fast, and simple method of prioritizing projects. Yes, the book was intended for marketers, but it is just as applicable to many aspects of retail planning.

ICE is an acronym for Impact, Confidence and Ease. Listing your series of retail projects down one column, then quickly providing a score out of 10 for each project, against the ICE criteria, lets you break down the project to the key elements that are important.


CIO Guide To Order Management Systems


Impact, Confidence, Ease

For Impact – consider the effect this project will have on your overall business. In our example chart, the retailer in question has set a strategic plan to develop their omni-channel strategy, and drive more sales through it. In that regard, deploying an advanced OMS (order management system) gets full marks (10 out of 10). On the other hand, achieving a 5% reduction in returned item discounts is scored at 6 out of 10. Still important, but not as critical as the first project in terms of the overall effect on the business performance improvement.

ICE Prioritization example chart

Regarding Confidence – simply assess how confident you are that this particular project will be a success. In our example, deploying an advanced OMS scores a 9, knowing that there will be well managed staff working on it, as well as a highly skilled and specialized vendor. On the other hand reducing the time between an online order and pickup availability, may be more logistically challenging, making this score lower at 7.

On Ease – estimate whether this is a very difficult and challenging project, or one that is straight forward and relatively easy for your teams to accomplish. Naturally, ease alone is not a good reason to either start or choose not to complete a project. However, it is a good criteria to consider, as achieving project successes built team confidence, company momentum, and are always good for the retail career, too.

To keep it simple, take an average across the three criteria score. Then prioritize your projects by the highest score, downward.

After one success, the team is ready for the next project...which builds on the success of the earlier one

Now What?

Naturally, as one project is completed, new dynamics will evolve. After getting the OMS deployed, getting the order consolidations project underway will become considerably easier. After one success, the team is ready for the next project… which builds on the success of the earlier one.

No, this quick method of prioritizing is not exclusively retail planning oriented. However, it is a handy process to quickly choose the projects that are most critical to your retail business. Hope it helps you.

Would love to hear your thoughts, about this method or others that might help other retailers. Drop me a line at:


Charles Dimov - Director Marketing OrderDynamicsCharles Dimov is Director of Marketing at OrderDynamics. Charles has 21+ years experience in Marketing, Sales and Management across various IT and Technology businesses. Previous roles include Chief of Staff, Director Product Marketing, and Director Sales. Charles has held roles in brand name firms like IBM, Ericsson, HP, ADP, and OrderDynamics.




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