BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - June 9, 2009) - Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company (NYSE: HHS), surveyed 120 retail enterprises between April and May 2009 to reveal shelf-level inventory optimization strategies. An astounding 70% of retailers rate themselves average or below average on their current store shelf-level inventory management processes. The top pressure facing 60% of leading retailers is the need to address service level imbalances at the retail shelf or inability to address short-term product category demand.

Along with Best-in-Class, the "service-level" pressure is felt by 52% of Average and 41% of Laggard retailers. The second-highest inventory-related business pressure of Best-in-Class retailers is the need to respond to the market's expectation of reduced shelf-level prices even as customer demand varies extensively on a week-to-week basis.

As a response to the pressures stated above, retailers are responding by turning towards computer assisted ordering that takes shelf-level service levels, short-term demand trends, shelf reviews, and automated replenishment into consideration.

"Currently too much safety stock is a real problem in retail. Leading retailers realize that profitability is dependant on shelf-level inventory focus that includes effective balancing of open-to-buy requirements with service levels, setting rationalized and well thought out automated replenishment thresholds, daily shelf reviews and corrective action, and inventory visibility at a multi-enterprise level," states Sahir Anand, Chief Author and Retail Research Director.

Aberdeen results signify that Best-in-Class retailers are 2.9-times more likely than Laggard retailers to improve end-to-end inventory order management through computer assisted ordering (CAO) functions in a closed-loop manner where suppliers are intimately involved as well. One of the critical demand-related complexities that cause inaccurate shelf-level inventory planning is the inability to sense and respond to inventory demand trends. More than half (55%) of retailers surveyed are able to capture a demand trend in five weeks, while 44% of retailers respond to a demand trend at a painstakingly slow rate of six weeks or more, causing all sorts of seasonal on-shelf demand accuracy related complexities for stores. "The lack of inventory accuracy at stores is not only a planning issue, it's also a performance and bottomline challenge that has a ripple effect on the entire chain," says Chris Cunnane, Co-Author and Retail Research Associate. Aberdeen's analysis of the Best-in-Class demonstrates that leading retailers follow more comprehensive and practical approaches that enable customer-centric inventory management in retail stores / channels through a combination of:

--  Perpetual inventory procedures downstream -- timely field-level
    inventory stock-out and over-stock updates. This enables retailers to
    manage inventory to the shelf requirements and ensure seamless customer
--  Improvement of multi-store location and multi-warehouse inventory
    planning to ensure localized inventory for stores.
--  Store and warehouse-level inventory tracking and audit procedure
    compliance for inventory accuracy.

All of the above requirements, and many more shelf-level inventory capabilities and systems, are ingredients of the Best-in-Class mantra for continued success.

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About Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company

Aberdeen provides fact-based research and market intelligence that delivers demonstrable results. Having queried more than 30,000 companies in the past two years, Aberdeen is positioned to educate users to action: driving market awareness, creating demand, enabling sales, and delivering meaningful return-on-investment analysis. As the trusted advisor to the global technology markets, corporations turn to Aberdeen™ for insights that drive decisions.

As a Harte-Hanks Company, Aberdeen plays a key role of putting content in context for the global direct and targeted marketing company. Aberdeen's analytical and independent view of the "customer optimization" process of Harte-Hanks (Information - Opportunity - Insight - Engagement - Interaction) extends the client value and accentuates the strategic role Harte-Hanks brings to the market. For additional information, visit Aberdeen or call (617) 723-7890, or to learn more about Harte-Hanks, call (800) 456-9748.

© 2009 Aberdeen Group, Inc., a Harte-Hanks Company
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Contact Information: Media Contact: Sahir Anand Research Director Aberdeen Harte-Hanks Chris Cunnane Research Associate Aberdeen Harte-Hanks