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Helping maximise sales & profit through inventory | Smart In Planning

Meet Susan Martin, CEO & Founder of Smart in Planning. Find out more about this Merchandise Planning Company and their exclusive offering for AFC Members.

by The AFC

21 July 2021

Tell us about you & Smart in Planning

SMART IN PLANNING is a Merchandise Planning Company that provides services, solutions and support in this highly specialised, business critical field. Our objective is simple ... maximise sales and profit through optimising inventory. Therein lies the competitive edge.

We are practitioners, not theorists. My team has honed their skills across senior roles spanning fast fashion, hard goods, seasonal, branded, online, FMCG and discount variety sectors.

Throughout my career, people have always been my hot button – my teams and peers throughout my employment career, and my team and clients now. I guess this is where my passion for service finds its place. I’ve never viewed service as only outward-facing (meaning to the customer or the client), but have always placed high importance, focus, energy, and respect on internal relationships.

SMART IN PLANNING is the culmination of every skill and experience in my merchandise planning career to date, translated into a service offering. It is a true union of my passions.

Tell us a little about your industry background and what brought you to working in your industry?

I’ve been in retail, specifically merchandise planning, for 25 years. I was drawn to the energy of the retail world. It represented a corporate environment that wasn’t stuffy and office-bound, but that was tangible, accessible, and relatable. It felt familiar, and I could see and understand all the parts – it was an environment that made sense to me.

On completing my university degree in Business, I secured a job with The Foschini Group (TFG) in South Africa, earning a place in a pilot Fast Track Trainee Merchandiser Program, which set the foundations for what would follow.

In 2001, I moved to Sydney, and my first role here was with Seduce. Coming from a business as large and structured as TFG, it was a huge adjustment – Seduce had nothing. I had to think through the underlying principles and drivers of “best practice” that I had almost taken for granted in the TFG environment, and figure out how to recreate that here.

I was later approached to join The Warehouse Group (TWG / TWA) at the very early stages of introducing Planning into the business, and I played an integral part in that, and the overall business evolution, eventually being appointed as General Manager of Inventory and Planning.

In 2011, I was approached by the Cotton On Group to head up merchandise planning for the entire group, globally. The Cotton On experience was dynamic and fast-paced. A day at COG is like a week anywhere else. It’s hyper-growth, with up to 200 store openings in a year, with an insatiable appetite for innovation, variety, and opportunity, embedded in a culture of finding ways forward rather than focusing on obstacles.

Leaving Cotton On, I went on to start SMART IN PLANNING, and that’s what I’ve been doing now for the last 6+ years! In that time I’ve been lucky enough to work with over 100 businesses and brands, with a combined annual turnover well in excess of $10bn!

How does Smart in Planning work with the Australian fashion & textile industry?

Every business is different! We get to know you, and customise our solutions to suit your needs.
Our services are very varied, reflecting the diverse experience of our team. They include, but are not limited to:

Smart Start:

We can create and embed a Merchandise Planning Framework in your business, so you can reap the rewards of #planningasitshouldbe


We have the technical expertise and capacity to make positive transformation less demanding for your business, through stabilising and strengthening people, process and systems, including system implementation support.


We have the experience and passion to amplify the impact of Planning in your business through online courses, our free resource centre The Planning POD, workshops, mentoring and coaching. See Merchandise Planning through our unique lens and learn the thinking behind the concepts.


Outsource your Planning to the experts and enjoy the benefits of senior Merchandise Planning expertise without committing to a permanent in-house Merchandise Planning structure; or rely on us to help you bridge a short term gap in your team.

Smart Art:

We help formulate strategy, and drive tangible results through our Merchandise Planning expertise, elevating the Planning perspective in organisations, embedding lasting and profitable change, through board advisory style engagements.

Whatever stage your business is at, we can partner with you to help navigate through your Merchandise Planning journey.

What are some key projects you are working on that you would like to highlight to the AFC community?

Merchandise Planning is a niche skill set, and training options are even more scarce than skilled Planners, and so it was always high on my priority list to deliver a training course specifically for Merchandise Planning. And I’m so thrilled that last year my career long dream came true!

SMART SCHOOL is the latest addition to our services offering. Underpinned by the extensive experience across the team, we offer online training courses bringing together the art and the science of Merchandise Planning. In line with my style of Planning, the learning content is designed to be more thought provoking than instructional, encouraging the learner to think differently about concepts they may already be familiar with.

Within SMART SCHOOL, we have two key offerings:

1. The Planning POD: Our free resource centre

Our mission at SMART IN PLANNING is to #changethefaceofplanning and we're committed to doing that through providing as much value add to the industry as we can. The Planning POD is a place where we share our tools and resources, principles, concepts and inspiration for the benefit of everyone in the Merchandise Planning and Retail community - all 100% free.

You can think of it a little bit like our 'veggie patch'. You can join now here.

The Planning Pod by Smart in Planning

2. Online course: Merchandise Planning | Foundations

Foundations is our signature entry level course, coupling together the context and principles of the Merchandise Planning landscape, with the technical retail maths calculations, to give a truly holistic introduction to Merchandise Planning. Learn more here.

Merchandise Planning by Smart in Planning

What is next? Any exciting developments, collaborations or events in the pipeline?

We have lots of exciting things in the works! More training courses, new blogs, exciting client projects, and a very special collaboration with AFC on their amazing EDIT collection.

In addition to that we are always looking for new ways we can serve our community and have plans to launch our podcast before the year is out.

What are you offering to AFC Members and how will this help their business?

We are pleased to offer AFC members a 30% discount off the regular price of our signature course: Merchandise Planning | Foundations.

Ideal for Junior Planners and Allocators in the early stages of their career, or seasoned Planners looking for a new perspective, Foundations is your one stop shop for everything you need to know when getting started in Merchandise Planning!

Also perfect for Buyers, Analysts and other Planning related functions, wanting a deeper understanding of how Planning works, as well as founders and business owners, looking to implement Planning and understand the positive impacts it can have on their business.

Foundations will help accelerate your Planning journey!

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