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Sales and Operation Planning with Bathrooms.com

Written by Ian Monk, CEO, Bathrooms.com The online retail industry like many others requires a huge amount of planning in order to achieve maximum resu...

Freddie Pierce
|Nov 8|magazine24 min read

Written by Ian Monk, CEO, Bathrooms.com

The online retail industry like many others requires a huge amount of planning in order to achieve maximum results, especially if the products are fast moving.

Bathrooms.com works with a multitude of suppliers from designers, craftsmen and manufacturers in the UK and China to deliver one streamlined service. With so many elements to the business it is essential that we implement a system that remains focused and aligned, which is filtered down from director level and throughout the business. From product development and design, to manufacturing and distribution, it is essential that as a business we are efficiently and sustainably managing our supply chains.

I am going to share the experience and strategy of Sales and Operations planning (S&OP) that Bathrooms.com employs, as well as discussing best practises on applying this to your own business structure.

Focused strategy

We implement the strategy of S&OP for a few key reasons. Its core value is achieving synchronisation throughout all the business functions and to continually achieve focus.

The bathrooms market is a unique one and so we have needed an approach that can progress the business across all channels in a timely manner that makes sure we are offering great customer service and remaining competitive. S&OP allows us to use our financial forecasts to plan our future plans in terms of sales experience, design and distribution.

Consumers looking to buy bathroom furniture, from a single sink to a whole bathroom overhaul, demand a smooth and functional sales service. Our customers favour us as we can provide them with stylish and contemporary design at affordable prices. Our mantra is at the core of what we do and has to be baked into all aspects of our sales and operations.

Seasonal selling

There are three seasonality spikes that we have to prepare for at Bathrooms.com, the largest of the three is January, there is another peak towards April and finally another at around October.

The bathrooms industry is a fairly long product life cycle with customers purchasing new bathroom furniture every five to eight years, but for smaller items like taps the lifecycle is closer to every two to four years. With this in mind we need make sure our time line from initial interest to final purchase is smooth and provides all the information our customers need. 

There are two prominent types of buying lifecycles in our business; the first is the distressed purchase, which normally happens within one-two days.  The customer is primarily looking to replace a single item that’s failed.

For consumers who are looking to refurbish a bathroom suite, the buying cycle window expands drastically to facilitate the consumer’s research phase.  On average, the window is between two-three weeks from the first visit to purchase.

S&OP top tips and advice

·         S&OP can only work if it is a phased approach, so it has to be integrated with any new technology or process in order to be implemented smoothly. What is unique about S&OP is that it is an established way of running a business as a whole and not a series of methods to organise a business.

As well as considering how you can use S&OP for internal growth and sustainability, be sure to have devised a set of approaches for external factors too. External impacts can often be the most detrimental to a business’s sales and operations planning, such as, for example, negative press coverage or a failed link in your supplier chain. Actions taken by your suppliers, partners and even competitors can have a huge influence on your business and so it is important be proactive rather than reactive in these instances. As an online retailer we know that anything from changes in Google’s algorithms, to a change in our competitors advertising spend can impact our business and so we make sure we are always working to enhance our online presence whatever situation arises.

·         All businesses like to use numbers and figures to support their business plans and focus, but these need to be translated into useful information in order to be of use. Data is an integral part of any organisation but this needs to be formed into actionable tasks and objectives. We find that working in the online space means a lot of measurement overlaps and it can be difficult to see which specific areas we need to focus on. By keeping in mind the problem you are trying to solve, you can look in depth at the areas required, therefore saving time and money. Tailor the data that you need to gather, so that you are not needlessly mining numbers that are not integral, as this only slows down more important responsibilities.

·         Provide effective leadership for the process. S&OP crosses organisational boundaries - that is its strength but also its vulnerability. Many businesses find that their attempts to implement S&OP can be closed off by internal departments and teams. At Bathrooms.com we find that making sure teams work together and have a clear understanding and respect for what each other contributes is what keeps us running successfully. 

The online retail industry like many others requires a huge amount of planning in order to achieve maximum results, especially if the products are fast moving.

Bathrooms.com works with a multitude of suppliers from designers, craftsmen and manufacturers in the UK and China to deliver one streamlined service. With so many elements to the business it is essential that we implement a system that remains focused and aligned, which is filtered down from director level and throughout the business. From product development and design, to manufacturing and distribution, it is essential that as a business we are efficiently and sustainably managing our supply chains.

I am going to share the experience and strategy of Sales and Operations planning (S&OP) that Bathrooms.com employs, as well as discussing best practises on applying this to your own business structure.

Focused strategy

We implement the strategy of S&OP for a few key reasons. Its core value is achieving synchronisation throughout all the business functions and to continually achieve focus.

The bathrooms market is a unique one and so we have needed an approach that can progress the business across all channels in a timely manner that makes sure we are offering great customer service and remaining competitive. S&OP allows us to use our financial forecasts to plan our future plans in terms of sales experience, design and distribution.

Consumers looking to buy bathroom furniture, from a single sink to a whole bathroom overhaul, demand a smooth and functional sales service. Our customers favour us as we can provide them with stylish and contemporary design at affordable prices. Our mantra is at the core of what we do and has to be baked into all aspects of our sales and operations.

Seasonal selling

There are three seasonality spikes that we have to prepare for at Bathrooms.com, the largest of the three is January, there is another peak towards April and finally another at around October.

The bathrooms industry is a fairly long product life cycle with customers purchasing new bathroom furniture every five to eight years, but for smaller items like taps the lifecycle is closer to every two to four years. With this in mind we need make sure our time line from initial interest to final purchase is smooth and provides all the information our customers need. 

There are two prominent types of buying lifecycles in our business; the first is the distressed purchase, which normally happens within one-two days.  The customer is primarily looking to replace a single item that’s failed.

For consumers who are looking to refurbish a bathroom suite, the buying cycle window expands drastically to facilitate the consumer’s research phase.  On average, the window is between two-three weeks from the first visit to purchase.

S&OP top tips and advice

·         S&OP can only work if it is a phased approach, so it has to be integrated with any new technology or process in order to be implemented smoothly. What is unique about S&OP is that it is an established way of running a business as a whole and not a series of methods to organise a business.

As well as considering how you can use S&OP for internal growth and sustainability, be sure to have devised a set of approaches for external factors too. External impacts can often be the most detrimental to a business’s sales and operations planning, such as, for example, negative press coverage or a failed link in your supplier chain. Actions taken by your suppliers, partners and even competitors can have a huge influence on your business and so it is important be proactive rather than reactive in these instances. As an online retailer we know that anything from changes in Google’s algorithms, to a change in our competitors advertising spend can impact our business and so we make sure we are always working to enhance our online presence whatever situation arises.

·         All businesses like to use numbers and figures to support their business plans and focus, but these need to be translated into useful information in order to be of use. Data is an integral part of any organisation but this needs to be formed into actionable tasks and objectives. We find that working in the online space means a lot of measurement overlaps and it can be difficult to see which specific areas we need to focus on. By keeping in mind the problem you are trying to solve, you can look in depth at the areas required, therefore saving time and money. Tailor the data that you need to gather, so that you are not needlessly mining numbers that are not integral, as this only slows down more important responsibilities.

·         Provide effective leadership for the process. S&OP crosses organisational boundaries - that is its strength but also its vulnerability. Many businesses find that their attempts to implement S&OP can be closed off by internal departments and teams. At Bathrooms.com we find that making sure teams work together and have a clear understanding and respect for what each other contributes is what keeps us running successfully.