Finish Line upgrades and automates end-to-end merchandising processes

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Finish Line
The Finish Line is optimizing merchandising processes across the enterprise (Photo credit: The Finish Line).

A leading specialty sportswear retailer is deploying new technology to optimize merchandising strategies.

The Finish Line Inc. is rolling out Aptos solutions to manage inventory with enhanced precision and automation. As a result, the retailer intends to enable faster response as market conditions and consumer demand patterns shift.

The Aptos suite of integrated applications includes solutions for analyzing, ordering, pricing, distribution, and management of merchandise for maximum ROI. By using consistent data to guide merchandising processes, Aptos solutions automatically synchronize and integrate functions including purchasing, pricing, receiving, allocation and replenishment; while a centralized transactional database and support tools will enable The Finish Line to make decisions based on accurate, current and shared information.

“The ability to react quickly to customers’ needs is extremely important to us, and with Aptos technology, we will be able to optimally position inventory to maximize sales, reduce stock-outs and delight shoppers,” said Todd Steiner, chief information and technology officer at The Finish Line. “We are looking forward to the benefits this solution will bring to our business, customers and employees.”

“There is tremendous pressure on retailers to make the most of every merchandising decision,” said Aptos CEO Pete Sinisgalli. “Retailers that can purchase the right amount of stock and distribute it optimally are best positioned for long-term profitability and customer loyalty. We are proud to serve as a technology partner to a market leader like Finish Line that is listening and responding to its customers at every touchpoint to meet their evolving expectations.” 

The Finish Line focuses on smart merchandising
The Finish Line is deploying Aptos merchandising technology following a partnership with Northwestern University’s Retail Analytics Council AI Lab to test the effectiveness of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to optimize markdowns to improve margins by predicting customer demand.

Collaborating with Northwestern University Retail Analytics Council AI Lab, The Finish Line tested various algorithms to cluster, classify and predict demand, and then compared the markdown cadence it had historically used for selecting products to a different markdown cadence based on predicted demand, price elasticity and sell-through rates determined with AI analysis. The company found that the model anticipated a potential 8% improvement in gross margin over the historical cadence. 

In addition, The Finish Line partnered with intelligent personalization platform Reflektion to leverage its real-time Intelligent Personalization Platform to support the layout of product assortments and category pages based on predictive models.

Looking ahead, The Finish Line is focusing on optimizing areas including demand forecast and price optimization. Currently, the company is also applying AI to determine the best location to fulfill an order, which is not always determined solely by geography.

Based in Indianapolis, The Finish Line operates approximately 890 Finish Line and JD Sports branded locations in U.S. malls, Finish Line shops inside Macy’s department stores, and two e-commerce sites.