CEBU, PHILIPPINES—Prince Retail Group recently announced its collaboration with market-leading supply chain and retail planning firm RELEX Solutions to automate demand forecasting for its 70+ supermarket stores nationwide. The technological investment by the homegrown retail chain strengthens its position to strategically expand its reach in remote areas across the Philippines.
Prince Retail and RELEX established the partnership in 2020, when COVID-19 peaked, and access to essentials was crucial. However, access to retail channels in rural communities in the Philippines has always been challenging due to regional infrastructure hurdles. Prince Retail’s mission is to close this accessibility gap. The pandemic’s emphasis on the problem only pushed the retailer’s commitment to finding the means to reach and serve more marginalized people.
At the time, Prince Retail was also burdened with persistent supply chain challenges, which, if not resolved, posed a severe threat to the business’s financial viability. Demand forecasting was an entirely manual process, leaving teams with significant risks for error when internal variables and local developments such as lockdowns, shortages of raw materials, or adverse weather conditions occurred. Maintaining a steady and accurate inventory flow and optimizing operational costs in preparation for expansion was taxing, as almost every Prince Retail store was about 100 kilometers from the nearest port.
Implementing the RELEX unified retail planning solution enabled Prince Retail to maximize their resources and streamline operational costs and processes while improving service levels for even the most far-flung stores. The retailer’s forecasting and allocation teams can easily input and view inventory information on a single platform, including intricacies and constraints unique to a specific vendor or store. The result significantly reduces discrepancies brought by disparate, manual forecasting methods.
The platform, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), automates the complex and time-consuming decisions of calculating forecasts based on user data and harnesses machine learning to optimize predictions.
“Automating our demand forecasting helped us increase our availability by at least 10%, enabling us to flourish and deliver a better customer experience despite the uncertainties brought by the pandemic,” shared Rina Janine Go, Chief Merchandising, Marketing, and Distribution Officer at Prince Retail Group of Companies. “The use of AI greatly supported us to improve our decision-making with data-driven insights that ultimately catalyzed our growth and enabled us to serve our customers better than ever before. It helped us seamlessly expand, even with an online channel and other initiatives to reach more customers who were struggling with where to buy their essential necessities.”
In 2021, the corporate group’s subsidiary Prince Hypermart partnered with the B2B application, “My Suki”, to launch an e-commerce app to cater to the growing number of digital customers, particularly the large base of resellers who source their goods from Prince. The unified tool for demand forecasting allowed the retailer to seamlessly integrate inventory for both online and offline channels in real time.
Prince Retail, which prides itself on being one of the organizations that quickly pivoted to digital when the pandemic happened, advocates digital transformation for other homegrown businesses due to its positive impact on stakeholders. “Agile digital transformation helped us to streamline our forecasting, better serve our existing customers, and even reach more of the market through our online shopping app—all contributing to the increased confidence and trust in our retail stores.”.
“I believe it’s also equally important to recognize that investing in technological tools that enable us to move away from manual operations increases the digital skills of Filipino workers, which are essential to being future-ready,” Go added.
Stefano Scandelli, Senior Vice President EMEA and APAC at RELEX Solutions, said, “The collaboration with Prince Retail is a great opportunity to show how Filipino companies can take advantage of automation and AI to realize further growth. We are committed to helping more local retailers digitally transform their supply chains to remain relevant in today’s digital economy.”