Retail TouchPoints - Your Source For The Latest Retail News And Trends Sat, 28 Nov 2015 16:53:03 -0500 RTP en-gb Will Small Business Saturday 2015 Surpass Last Year's Bonanza? Will Small Business Saturday 2015 Surpass Last Year's Bonanza?

With all the hype for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals already kicking off the holiday season, it’s easy for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) to get lost in the shuffle of the promotional chaos. However, the recent advent of Small Business Saturday has given these retailers a promotional platform of their own.

Consumers spent a reported $14.3 billion purchasing gifts at independent retail stores on Small Business Saturday in 2014, according to American Express. The credit card provider initially launched the concept of Small Business Saturday in 2010 to encourage consumers to spend money at their local businesses, instead of doing their typical shopping at major retailers.

{loadposition GIAA}As part of this year’s Small Business Saturday promotions, American Express has even created an interactive map including partnering SMBs to give shoppers the chance to find the locations of participating businesses online, and created the hashtags #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat to create buzz surrounding the day on social media. Retailers can use both the interactive map and the hashtags as a quick way to take advantage of the Small Business Saturday in 2015.

With the enormous sales generated by Small Business Saturday in 2014, optimism this year is high for small businesses: 56% of SMB owners say they are confident the national economy will improve over the next 12 months, according to the 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report. Perhaps more importantly, the report revealed that an even larger percentage of SMB owners, 62%, are confident their local economy will improve over the next 12 months.

This confidence is further reflected in the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey from NFIB and American Express, which reports that 55% of U.S. consumers are now aware of Small Business Saturday. The survey indicated that 45% of consumers who expect to shop on the day plan to spend more on Small Business Saturday this year than they spent last year.

Local Partnerships And Social Media Marketing Spell Saturday Success

When it comes to building out successful campaigns to reel in shoppers throughout Small Business Saturday and into the rest of the holiday season, retailers can partner with other local businesses, or even their township or Chamber of Commerce, to see if they are holding promotions of their own.

"There are thousands of events that local business networks have already set up for the day that are happening across the country," said Miguel Ayala, a spokesperson for the Small Business Administration (SBA).

The SBA recommends businesses sponsor events relevant to their consumers as a means to drive traffic and sales.

“If you are planning on sponsoring an event, whether it’s your local Little League tournament or your town’s annual community health drive, you need to have clear goals and you’ll want to partner with events that reflect positively on your brand,” according to a blog post from the SBA. “If people are having a good time, then it’s likely that experience will rub off on your business through association. Consider events with a good track record that will attract the kind of customers you’re targeting.”

Beyond creating special events, retailers are encouraged to use social media platforms to spread the word of their offerings and products. Making these messages creative can add a unique element from the store that reels in customers seeking out images and content related to their shopping experience. Retailers also have the opportunity to implement discounts that consumers can only receive through their Facebook and Twitter campaigns.

“Encourage and incentivize customers to check in and interact with your business during the day,” said Nicole Kroese, VP of Marketing and Partnerships at Likeable Local in an interview with CNBC. “Any way you can make it interactive with the customer.”

The focus on social media as a marketing tool is certainly growing among SMBs, who are taking note of the effectiveness these platforms have in attracting consumers and spreading word of mouth. A Bigcommerce survey indicates that more than 70% of retailers actually plan to focus on promoting their business through the existing communities they’ve built on social media channels, and nearly 45% plan to spend on social media advertisements.

Considering that more than half of retailers surveyed say their holiday spend accounts for no more than 20% of their annual marketing budgets, preferring instead to rely on organic traffic, SMBs would be wise to concentrate on low-cost social media options to optimize success on Small Business Saturday.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Store Operations Fri, 27 Nov 2015 11:27:39 -0500
Hardware Chain Streamlines Task Management To Eliminate Tedious Processes

RocklerWoodworkingStoreThe 31-store Rockler Woodworking and Hardware chain faced similar communication, task execution tracking and reporting challenges as many larger retailers. Rockler's headquarters used multiple emails, often with multi-page pdf documents attached, to communicate with stores about everything from promotions and product launches to seasonal campaigns.

This blizzard of messages caused a number of issues, including:

{loadposition GIAA}• Store managers spent too much time sifting through emails trying to determine what corporate wanted done;

• Corporate and regional management lacked visibility into which store teams had read and completed assigned tasks, and when; and

• Rockler lacked a two-way feedback mechanism to identify opportunities for operational improvement.

"Using email to communicate to our stores was very tedious," said Lori Larsen, Director of Retail Operations for Rockler. "A one-week packet of information was a 20-page pdf at times. Each packet would have action item after action item buried on page 5, 6, 7, 8 and so on. Our teams had to hunt and peck for information, which is nothing but wasted time."

Rockler turned to a task management solution designed specifically for mid-sized companies, ReflexisPlus. Task management, retail store audit and mobility solutions from Reflexis have embedded best practices, such as templates for launching tasks and projects, and support hierarchical structure common to grocery, convenience, big box and specialty retailers.

The cloud-based solution was implemented very quickly in early 2015, taking three weeks from project kickoff through rollout to all stores. Key benefits from the deployment include:

            • Streamlined Communication: Stores no longer have to search through multiple emails to find one item, and the solution's search function is helpful for both corporate and stores;

            • Improved Planning And Execution: "The solution gives us total control over how communications go out and are assigned," said Larsen. "Being able to select where the communication is going and being more concise really helped us out. The number of emails sent for clarification sake has diminished.";

            • Task Completion Visibility: Rockler gains accountability from the solution's showing when people are executing specific tasks;

            • Continuous Improvement: "We can tell when we didn't give stores enough time to complete a task," said Larsen. "We learn from that and adjust. Stores execute better to achieve their sales and customer experience goals."; and

            • Improved Reporting For Regional Managers: "Regional manager can now tell how fast and engaged stores are in task execution," said Larsen. "It also gives regional managers visibility into opportunities to help with performance."

Click here to listen to a web seminar about Rockler's experience with the Reflexis solution.

]]> (Adam Blair) Retail Success Stories Thu, 26 Nov 2015 08:01:47 -0500
'Tis The Season To Tailor Marketing Campaigns To Mobile-Empowered Shoppers 'Tis The Season To Tailor Marketing Campaigns To Mobile-Empowered Shoppers

Ramsey Masri OtherLevelsHoliday shoppers are frequently creatures of habit, but as retailers and marketers know, shoppers' habits are changing.

This holiday season, retail marketers are faced with the challenging task of building bridges between customers' traditional holiday expectations (sales, discounts, holiday promotions) and the new realities of the mobile marketplace (smartphone browsing, easy-to-use shopping apps, mobile rewards programs, online offers, tantalizing text messages and more).

{loadposition GIAA}Indeed, for marketers who get it right, 2015 is the season for personalized, digital marketing that will boost sales, deliver satisfying shopping experiences and deepen customer loyalty once the holiday glitter is gone.

Retailers know that more than half of their online traffic now originates from mobile devices, not desktop or laptop computers. Deloittenotes that more than 36% of in-store purchases are influenced by mobile/digital technologies, with $965 billion in holiday-related retail sales projected between November 2015 and January 2016.

For marketers to connect successfully with 2015's holiday shoppers, they must:

  • Adopt new digital marketing practices that enable retailers and brands to connect with the mobile-empowered masses in very personal ways — as personal and ever-present as the smartphones that 2015 shoppers never go anywhere without;
  • Reach customers across a variety of channels — online, mobile web, app, desktop, email and in-store; and
  • Abandon outdated marketing practices that no longer resonate with a mobile-powered customer base (if you're pitching hard-copy 2016 calendars to Millennials, for example, stop doing so immediately; everything they need is on their smartphones).

Holiday Marketing: Making It Mobile And Personalized

Marketers assuredly have questions about this new mobile environment. How can they create holiday campaigns that are personal without coming across as intrusive, or blanketed to all shoppers? How can they send mobile messages and offers that hit the holiday note with just the right tone? How can marketers use the mobile environment to boost sales, build loyalty and deepen existing relationships with customers?

Some of the answers are found in an OtherLevels 2015 Retail Mobile Messaging Study that tracked a retail client's mobile marketing campaigns, content and messages over an eight-week period to assess lift, engagement, activity and sales. And the findings provide some key insights for mobile marketers who want to be successful on the sales, loyalty and customer satisfaction fronts this holiday season.

A few tips for retail mobile marketers include:

Embrace The Holidays

Even though they can be busy, hectic and trying at times, the holidays resonate with shoppers because of the personal feelings that are part and parcel of the season. Ideally, holidays are about family and friends, personalized gift-giving, shared meals, heartfelt greetings and goodwill. And marketers should take a hint by making their mobile messages just as personal and relevant as the holidays themselves.

In our study, we found that holiday-related content, for example, boosted engagement with customers. In one test, sending mobile messages that enabled shoppers to pre-order holiday items by tapping a smartphone banner created an 11% increase in lift. Shoppers also responded more actively to reminders to purchase favorite holiday foods or holiday-specific ingredients for traditional holiday recipes. Holiday-contextual content can help retailers and brands feel like familiar, helpful shopping companions, and marketers should keep that in mind as they determine what types of mobile offers and promotions to launch during the busy holiday season.

Respect The Holidays

The frequency with which marketers send messages can also influence customers' depth of engagement and purchases, and the general rule from our study is that message frequency can influence engagement and lift by 20% or more. But the holidays are also busy times, and if every retailer is bombarding a customer's smartphone with text messages, reminders and promotions, shoppers might just turn off or tune out altogether.

Best advice: adopt a frequency schedule that makes sense during the busy holidays by respecting customers' time and interest. Use data and analytics from the app environment to send messages when shoppers are likely to be searching, shopping or browsing, not during off-hours or at inconvenient times. Use app data to understand which customers are engaging and reacting to messages, and then target and re-target messages to build on and deepen their activity levels and interest.

Use Loyalty Status As A Holiday Marketing Opportunity

A retailer's or brand's loyalty program members have already made a personal commitment by signing up, so build on that commitment to not only boost sales and engagement levels but also to deepen their loyalty. In our 2015 study, for example, the client's loyalty program experienced a 6.2% lift from members-only promotions.

Shoppers liked being singled out for specials and promotions that were based solely on their existing loyalty to the brand, and loyalty programs already house plenty of data on which to shape, inform, target and re-target content, promotions and offers. Take advantage of information about members' preferences, purchase histories and loyalty status to send messages that are personal, holiday-specific and satisfying

Like any solid marketing program, a mobile campaign must begin and maintain a conversation between the retailer and the customer. And in the mobile environment, the content and messages delivered to a customer's very-personal, always-at-the-side smartphone should do more than deliver a little holiday cheer.

Messages should connect by delivering content that's relevant to the season, timely and respectful during a busy time of year. Messages should be satisfyingly simple for customers who want shopping to be fruitful, fun and heartfelt. And they should be timed to be helpful, not heavy-handed.

Marketers who understand their customers' changing holiday habits are poised to deliver results during the busy holiday season, and they're building a bridge to customer loyalty that will last all year long.


Ramsey Masri is the CEO of OtherLevels, an enterprise digital messaging platform with offices in London, San Francisco, Brisbane and Melbourne. OtherLevels is at the forefront of the enterprise marketing transformation being driven by the massive shift to mobile.

]]> (Ramsey Masri, OtherLevels) Executive ViewPoints Thu, 26 Nov 2015 07:38:29 -0500
Results Are In! Find Out Which Omnichannel Tactics Work Best Results Are In! Find Out Which Omnichannel Tactics Work Best

1omnichannelEffective omnichannel strategies are helping retailers improve loyalty, increase brand interactions and boost basket size, according to the 114 business leaders surveyed for the 4th annual Retail TouchPoints Omnichannel Survey.

Although the term "omnichannel" is now part of our everyday retail dictionary, many business executives are still trying to figure out the most effective strategies. While the brick-and-mortar store continues to be the most prevalent selling channel, online sites are now in relatively equal standing.

Key findings include:

  • 61.4% of retailers provide mobile devices to in-store employees;

  • 67.5% of retailers are using analytics to fortify their omnichannel efforts; and

  • 42.1% of retailers currently are shipping products from stores to shoppers' homes or other stores.

To read the complete report, including real-world case studies, fill out the form below:

]]> (Debbie Hauss) Special Reports Tue, 24 Nov 2015 12:59:08 -0500
Aptos Unveils New Senior Management Team Aptos Unveils New Senior Management Team

aptosAptos, formerly known as Epicor Retail Solutions, has revamped its senior management team, appointing seven new executives:

  • David Baum, Legal Leader;

  • Mark Bentler, Finance Leader;

  • Nicole Crowe, Marketing Leader;

  • Bill Joyce, Customer Success Leader;

  • Ian Rawlins, Strategy Leader;

  • Steve Stanislaus, People Leader; and

  • Mike Verdeyen, Technology Leader.

{loadposition GIAA}“Our new executive management team brings a wealth of talent and expertise to Aptos to ensure we continue to bring to market the right technology solutions and support, and most importantly, the ability to engage customers differently in the retail sector,” said Noel Goggin, CEO and Culture Leader of Aptos. “All of these executives join me in their desire to forge a new, community-minded business model, what we call ‘the Aptos Way,’ that elevates the traditional vendor-retailer relationship to a collaborative partnership framed by authenticity, transparency and a pioneering attitude to always deliver mutual success.”

Baum has served as a legal counsel for Aptos, previously holding the title of general counsel at NSB Retail Systems prior to its acquisition by Epicor Software in 2008.

Bentler served as VP of Finance, for Epicor Software and NSB Retail Systems, respectively.

Crowe has more than 20 years' experience in marketing strategy and business development, previously serving as VP of Product Marketing for JDA Software. She also has held senior roles with RedPrairie, Manhattan Associates and S1/ACI Worldwide.

Joyce previously held a similar role with Epicor Software, and has held leadership positions with JDA Software and Manhattan Associates.

Rawlins is responsible for market and product strategy, as well as product management, alliances and acquisitions. He has more than 25 years' experience in the retail technology industry, including as co-founder of Triversity Inc., prior to its acquisition by SAP.

Stanislaus has more than 30 years' experience in global leadership positions across all HR disciplines, with companies including Aptean and RedPrairie.

Verdeyen, had been the CTO at International Business Systems since 2012. Prior to that, he served 14 years in a variety of technology leadership roles for RedPrairie, now JDA Software.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Movers & Shakers Tue, 24 Nov 2015 12:51:44 -0500
Borderfree And Alipay Team To Bring American Brands To Chinese Consumers Borderfree And Alipay Team To Bring American Brands To Chinese Consumers

Logistics solution provider Borderfree, a division of Pitney Bowes, has expanded its partnership with payment service provider Ant Financial to bring American fashion, sports apparel and lifestyle accessories brands to online shoppers in China in advance of the holiday season.

Borderfree’s program with Ant Financial’s Alipay provides the payment, logistics services and marketing support to help global brands and retailers connect with Chinese consumers. The partnership, which launched in 2014, will now enable Alipay’s registered users to purchase products online directly from retailers such as Aéropostale, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, using localized payments.

{loadposition GIAA}“We are very focused on increasing our brand awareness in China as well as growing our international e-Commerce business,” said Alex Bolen, CEO of Oscar de la Renta, LLC. “The importance of an easy user experience, enabling customers to check out using their preferred method, Alipay ePass, is key in driving conversion. Through Borderfree, we are now able to offer this service to our clients in China, allowing them to purchase with confidence.”

With the partnership, Chinese consumers can shop for the merchandise at the same retail prices offered to U.S. consumers while receiving Alipay shipping, customs clearance and door-to-door delivery anywhere in China. These consumers can track packages directly from their Alipay account.

The partnership takes advantage of a growing market for online shopping and a desire to shop for U.S. goods. EMarketer forecasts that China will account for more than 40% of the world's retail e-Commerce sales this year. Additionally, the 2015 Pitney Bowes Global Online Shopping Study identifies the U.S. as the top e-shopping destination for global consumers to buy products from outside their own country, including shoppers in China.

“The e-Commerce sector in China continues to be a major driver of economic growth, as Internet penetration and smartphone ownership continue to increase,” said Lila Snyder, President of Global E-Commerce at Pitney Bowes. “By gaining deeper insight on what local shoppers in China want to buy and how they like to shop, U.S. retailers can make international purchases not just possible but probable for overall global e-Commerce success.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Tue, 24 Nov 2015 12:31:38 -0500
Shopping Joins Football-Watching As Prime 'Sofa Sunday' Activity Shopping Joins Football-Watching As Prime 'Sofa Sunday' Activity

It's the Sunday evening of the long Thanksgiving weekend. You've finally made a significant dent in the leftovers and your most annoying relatives are on their way to the airport. So what do you do?

For many people the answer is, apparently, shop online using your handheld device. Aggregated advertiser data from MediaMath shows a definite spike in mobile traffic on "Sofa Sunday," with the most purchases made from 7 pm to 11 pm. In an interview with Retail TouchPoints, Edwin Lee, VP of Retail at MediaMath, explained the trends that are fueling the Sofa Sunday phenomenon, and revealed how retailers can best take advantage of consumer activity during this critical portion of the holiday weekend.

{loadposition GIAA}Retail TouchPoints (RTP): How big a spike in mobile shopping are we talking about on Sofa Sunday?

Lee: It’s not clear exactly how big the spike will be, but it will spike. If you think about it, mobile shopping fits into the weekend when people are on the go. Whereas Cyber Monday is when people are back at work sitting in front of their desktop, Sofa Sunday is being out and about and still buying holiday gifts.

RTP: Is it primarily browsing and research, or completed transactions?

Lee: The major retail trend this year is that mobile conversions are finally catching up with the mobile traffic numbers. Historically, people would research on mobile and convert on desktop. On Sofa Sunday, people will be in-store and online at the same time, researching deals and, if they are finding the best one, converting, whether in-store or on their phone.

RTP: The "Couch Commerce" concept has been around for a few years. What recent trends, either technological or behavioral, are fueling this current spike?

Lee: The ultimate driver of converting on mobile devices is the comfort consumers have in doing so. This comfort is made up of better, not-just-mobile-optimized-sites, but mobile-web-specific designed sites and mobile apps. The fact that consumers are continuing to spend more and more time on their mobile device leads to higher trust and comfort in transacting over the mobile device. So it’s technological, but the technology is changing consumer behavior.

RTP: Are you seeing this behavior across various age and demographic groups?

Lee: Mobile adoption is highest among the millennial generation, but Gen X and Gen Y are right behind them. For instance, research on shopping habits released by Adroit Digital in August shows that 55% of those aged 18 to 34, and 52% of those aged 35 and older, are now more likely to click on a mobile ad over a desktop one. This shows that the generations are more alike in their shopping habits than previously noted.

RTP: Are there particular product types or retail verticals that you expect will see the most traffic and sales on Sofa Sunday?

Lee: We predict that the bigger ticket items will be higher on Sofa Sunday than others — TVs and electronics specifically.

RTP: In your opinion, will Sofa Sunday ever eclipse Cyber Monday?

Lee: No…consumers still can do a lot more and faster on their desktop over corporate-fast Internet connections. Cyber Monday will still be the biggest.

RTP: What should retailers do to take the most advantage of the Sofa Sunday phenomenon?

Lee: Be sure to have a mobile-web designed site that reflects the same deals or exclusive deals for that channel. Also, be sure that your marketing and media are aligned to make consumers aware of deals. Take advantage of true cross-device targeting and attribution. You don’t want to lose that customer to another retailer!

]]> (Adam Blair) Trend Watch Tue, 24 Nov 2015 11:52:51 -0500
Bristol Farms Taps ReposiTrak To Manage Food Safety Compliance Bristol Farms Taps ReposiTrak To Manage Food Safety Compliance

bristolfarmsNatural and organic grocery chain Bristol Farms has selected ReposiTrak, a provider of compliance management solutions for food, pharma and dietary safety, to manage regulatory and business documentation compliance within the supply chain.

The retailer will use the Compliance Management solution, which receives, stores and shares documentation, and also manages compliance through dashboards and alerts for missing or expired documents.

Additionally, Bristol Farms will use the Track & Trace system to identify product ingredients and their supply chain path in the event of a product recall. The platform is designed to reduce supply chain risk, by identifying backward chaining sources and forward chaining recipients of products, in near real time.

“Our top priority is to provide safe food for our customers at Bristol Farms,” said Kevin Davis, Chairman, President and CEO of Bristol Farms and incoming Chairman of the Food Marketing Institute. “As our industry continues to focus on bringing consumers more and better locally sourced products, we needed an automated system to help us manage the complexity associated with the Food Safety Modernization Act. ReposiTrak gives us that ability.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Tue, 24 Nov 2015 10:57:54 -0500
Brick-And-Mortar Retailers Should Add Unique Experiences To Shopping Trips Brick-And-Mortar Retailers Should Add Unique Experiences To Shopping Trips

Glenn head shotWhile “omnichannel” has continued be a major buzzword permeating retailers' strategies as they strive to reach the consumer through every channel, there appears to be a new focus for forward-thinking merchants: the experience.

This “experiential” form of commerce focuses less on the actual products sold; instead it is designed to bring consumers into the retail store while also letting them know that they’re not just entering a "store". While these new store environments are positioned to help retailers stand out from their competition, they also differentiate the store from the online site.

{loadposition GIAA}Experiential retailing isn’t exactly a new concept — promotions and marketing campaigns have been paired with the path-to-purchase for decades now — but retailers are now reinventing concepts and pairing the store with dining, events and activities.

As an example of experiential retailing, look no further than Urban Outfitters, which recently acquired the Vetri pizza chain to introduce in select stores. While the thought of an apparel retailer purchasing a restaurant seems bizarre at first glance, adding an eatery within a store environment does create something not often seen anywhere else — which is precisely the point.

Instead of having to go to the mall to go shopping in one place and then eat dinner in another, consumers could theoretically do both in one trip when they select an Urban Outfitters location.

Another apparel retailer, lululemon, known for its athletic wear, is opening a flagship store in New York dedicated to creating a customer-centric experience that goes beyond the store. In fact, the retailer is dedicating 3,000 square feet of the 11,500-square-foot location as a community “retreat space” for shoppers known as “Hub Seventeen.” The space will enable the retailer to host regular fitness and yoga workshops, as well as a monthly dinner series and a pop-up art gallery.

Similar to lululemon, Japanese home goods and apparel retailer Muji opened a flagship location in New York containing an embroidery station and an “Aroma Labo,” where consumers can choose, mix and purchase aroma diffusers. The customization aspect of this experience — especially for a brand that only has 11 locations in the U.S. — could certainly create a more memorable shopping visit for consumers who in all likelihood have no familiarity with the retailer.1muji

While these retailer examples are only in a handful of select stores, they are all in major urban areas that attract large audiences, with many first-time tourist shoppers walking through their doors. With that in mind, there’s never a better time for retailers to make a great first impression on potential new consumers.

It is time for brick-and-mortar retailers to brainstorm ideas about how to make the store more about visiting and buying, and less about just buying and leaving. Considering that the store is still where the overwhelming majority (90%) of retail purchases take place, retailers have plenty of opportunities to capture the consumer's imagination. Now, they should go beyond the product and make the store interactive, engaging and most important, fun!


]]> (Glenn Taylor) Editor's Perspective Tue, 24 Nov 2015 10:05:56 -0500
Elevating Business Intelligence For Smarter Spending Elevating Business Intelligence For Smarter Spending

Armin Roeseler DirectBuyIn its original state, Business Intelligence (BI) existed as a “reporting function” that delivered summaries of historical operational data to decision makers. The summaries provided were beneficial at one time, as they paved the way for future corporate spending decisions.

In today’s ever-evolving digital economy in which retailers operate, the past and its associated data no longer provide an adequate guide to predict the future. This primitive BI approach can be compared to driving a car by looking in the rear-view mirror; the driver attempts to anticipate the terrain in front of the car based on what has been experienced and observed in the past. Instead, retailers must identify predictive analytics within their BI infrastructure that help answer the “what if” questions relating to the future.

Benefits Of BI Implementation

{loadposition GIAA}Although the task of implementing new and effective BI solutions might seem ominous, the benefits have proven to be incalculable as they present opportunities to find considerable savings in a fast, intuitive and graphical way. Beyond product buying and purchasing, retailers can leverage BI solutions for numerous functions, such as providing better customer service initiatives, reducing ineffective marketing costs, improving the supply chain and more.

BI analytics have also consistently been shown to boost sales and create more personalized relationships with customers, among other benefits. In fact, 54% of retailers say using data tools seriously boosted 2014 revenues by helping them make smarter product buying decisions, according to Lightspeed’s 2015 Tech Trends Survey. The ROI companies are receiving from BI implementation is also substantial. New data from Nucleus Research found every dollar spent on BI solutions receives a return of $10.66.

Building A Sustainable BI Framework

Assembling a viable BI framework that aligns directly with company goals and objectives is more vital than ever before, as BI solutions continue to be a major priority for enterprises across the country. A Gartner survey showed Business Intelligence and analytics remain the No. 1 investment priority of more than 2,800 chief information officers for the fourth consecutive year. If executed correctly, a BI setup can help identify inefficiencies, measure performance and uncover opportunities.

However, despite the nearly $114 billion spent toward advanced BI technology, adoption is still abysmal. According to Forrester, more than 60% of business and technology decision-makers reported time concerns with creating and updating dashboards. And with retailers under more pressure to increase sales and reduce costs, the implementation of new predictive analytics is becoming more common in their efforts to vigorously regulate a pattern and predict future outcomes.

Predictive analytics can be described as a practice of extracting information from historical data to determine a pattern and to predict the future. It utilizes a variety of statistics, modeling, data mining and machine learning techniques to study recent and historical data. Regardless of its incapability to predict what exactly will happen in the future, it can forecast what might occur. Often, predictions about the future are accompanied with a confidence interval, e.g. “Sales will increase between 3% to 5% in the next year, with a certainty of 98%.”

In addition, predictive analysis provides a clear meaning to the data and creates opportunities for business to be profitable. For example, Tesco employed a BI platform that incorporated weather information into its store operations to better predict effects of weather on sales. This allowed them to adjust the supply chain accordingly.

Allocating Budgets Based On BI Analytics

Given the way customers are rapidly evolving, an elevated BI function is essential to budget allocation decisions. This data is precious, as retailers can determine what shopping portals are driving the highest amount of revenue, how customers prefer to be serviced, what products are contributing largely to purchasing volume and more.

Marketing departments with data-driven infrastructures have benefited greatly, as BI functions can provide necessary insights on where marketing dollars receive the highest return on investment. Not only can a marketing team use these metrics to pinpoint the most revenue-driven campaigns, promotions and website activity, but they can also identify and exterminate those initiatives producing unproductive numbers.

The same goes for sales. BI software can be used for analyzing the steps and time length or duration inside a broad number of customer opportunities within the sales pipeline. If advanced software isn’t being elevated, managers are left in the dark on which sales techniques are producing the highest monetary value. Instead, brands can utilize this data to retarget energy and dollars that are yielding the best results.

BI software also has the ability to bring together countless departments within a company collaboratively. For those companies that are not data-focused, questions on where the business’ problems truly lie can stir needless internal tension. Retailers need to dissect the data to see where the trouble really lies. Then, departments must work together to resolve issues and advance business procedures.

Next Steps For Businesses

Looking into the future, the advancement of BI solutions will only continue to evolve. The allure of BI is that it has the potential to turn around a retailer’s bottom line and inspire new opportunities for business. As 2015 comes to a close, it’s time for retailers to focus on how to better elevate BI in their corporate environments, as its benefits are never-ending.


Armin Roeseler is the CIO of DirectBuy, Inc. where for over two years he has been transforming the IT organization and technology infrastructure of the company. Roeseler has also held executive technology positions with international financial services firms and research institutions, including Bank One Corp. (now JP Morgan Chase), ABN AMRO/LaSalle Bank (now Bank of America and Royal Bank of Scotland), and subsidiaries of Lehman Brothers, Barclays Capital, and Bank of New York.

]]> (Armin Roeseler, DirectBuy) Executive ViewPoints Tue, 24 Nov 2015 09:47:54 -0500