Marine Corps Exchanges using analytics to improve merchandise planning

With operations at 17 Marine Corps installations located around the world, the Marine Corps Exchange is a full-service retail operation, providing Marines and their families with an inventory of goods comparable to large retail chains like Target and Wal-Mart.

However, unlike commercial chains, the MCX reinvests its profits into services provided by Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) that improve quality of life for current and retired Marines and their families. This includes sports activities, community parks and recreation centers, support programs, and entertainment activities.

The MCX will use SAS to perform cluster analyses, which will help the MCX gain better insight into the unique and changing needs of the local population, SAS officials said. Some areas contain more retirees; others have younger, single people; while others contain more families. SAS analyzes population data, as well as historic sales data to identify seasonal and other trends that cause fluctuations in supply and demand, SAS officials said.

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MCX will use SAS for merchandise planning to make sure the local populations can get the products they need, when they need them. MCX will be able to optimize everyday regular prices, promotional prices and markdown pricing to better manage overall category demand throughout the product life cycle, so that inventory is turned over in a way that maximizes profits.

Previously, the planning cycle has taken up to a year. MCX needed the ability to easily produce reports from plans and move beyond offline, manually intensive reporting, SAS officials said.

MCX will also have the ability to cluster stores and take planning from the department level down to the item level. MCX officials then can invest more in items whose demand is growing such as electronic games and reduce investment in items that are not coming off the shelves.

MCX will use SAS Demand Forecasting for Retail, SAS Business Intelligence and SAS Merchandise Financial Planning to perform the sophisticated analyses.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.


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