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Business Intelligence / Data / Analytics

In order to be successful in today’s omnichannel retail marketplace, merchants must collect information from numerous internal and external sources, then analyze that data. New solutions can help to optimize incoming data in order to deliver the business intelligence and analytics needed to move retail businesses successfully into the future. This section offers feature articles, special reports, industry viewpoints and the latest news to help retailers make sense out of the growing influx of information.

“Store”-age Virtualization: How Retailers Can Gain An Edge With IT Operations

For many retail organizations, individual stores are spread far and wide, oftentimes with thousands of locations. In any given store location, there are many applications and Internet of Things (IoT) devices running simultaneously to maintain business operations, security and more. These applications and devices include point of sale (POS) systems, video surveillance recordings, back office applications, inventory management software, digital signage and food service automation — to name a few. In order to stay competitive in a landscape where every retailer is looking for an edge to attract and retain customers, a flexible technical architecture that can easily handle change is crucial for business continuity. The successful IT management of multiple stores in various locations is important for managing application uptime, data production and storage without the need for onsite IT support in each store location.

Exclusive Q&A: How Shoppers’ Awareness Of Their Own Data’s Value Is Redefining Personalization

Consumer data represents an emerging market that could be valued at $7 billion, according to Greg Portell, Lead Partner in the Global Consumer and Retail Practice of A.T. Kearney. With data protection laws becoming a point of discussion in some states, retailers need to plan for how they will handle the coming shift in data ownership and use. The future of data will be the focus of the Personalization: Elusive But Not Impossible session at Retail TouchPoints LIVE! @ RetailX, June 25-26 in Chicago. Portell will explain why technology and data alone aren’t enough to create true personalization — and how shoppers have become increasingly aware of the value of the data they produce.

EPrivacy — Are You Ready For The Next Chapter In Data Compliance?

In May 2018, for the first time retailers have had to think very carefully about the data they collect, for what purpose, and how they process it, after being hit with the most significant changes to data protection laws in the UK for 20 years. Three new regulations, including the infamous GDPR, were introduced simultaneously, which together with the Privacy and Electronic Communications Act of 2003 form the four sets of data protection regulations that retailers must comply with.

Leading Retailers Are Overcoming Analysis-Paralysis

There is a lot of talk about data-led, people-based marketing, but I’m often surprised to find that some retailers are not acting on the real opportunities to harness the power of their data to deliver growth and business impact. In talking with retailers across the marketing maturity spectrum, one shared characteristic stands out amongst those leading retailers that are reaping the rewards of people-based marketing: they don’t get stuck in analysis-paralysis. In fact, they limit their preparation analysis to the most critical elements, then put real ideas into the market to learn quickly. Perfection is the enemy of now, and it turns out now is the only time to make progress. For those retailers that want to use the remaining half of 2019 to make an impact in this hyperconnected, on-demand marketing environment, here are four people-based marketing tactics you can implement today.

Tackling Retailers’ Growing Returns Problem In The Wake Of Shipping Increases

Free, convenient returns have become more or less an expectation of the modern retail consumer. Unfortunately, free returns have fueled unprofitable consumer practices such as buying multiple items and sizes, but only keeping favorites or the items that fit. This can prove problematic for retailers, whose already-thin profits are being further squeezed by recent shipping rate hikes by parcel carriers. This situation may be a challenge, but not an impossible one. By reassessing return policies and/or making smart investments in technology, retailers can weather the increased shipping fees without sacrificing profits or the customer experience.

#RIC19: Lowe’s, BBQ Guys Reveal Best Practices For AI Implementations

While AI and machine learning are often hailed as solutions for any number of data problems, getting real-world results requires laying important groundwork before the first recommendation is even served. Executives from both Lowe's and BBQ Guys discussed the behind-the-scenes efforts that empower their data science programs during the AI Panel - How To Build A Pragmatic AI Roadmap That Drives Commerce Results breakout session at the 2019 Retail Innovation Conference. “You hear about AI and machine learning and the hype around that. What people don’t tell you is that more of your time is spent on data preparation and deployment,” said Doug Jennings, VP of Data and Analytics at Lowe’s. “Executives like to believe that 99% of your time is spent on building the algorithms involved — but actually that’s the smallest part.” Over the past several years, Lowe’s has significantly expanded its data science team, from five people who primarily worked on search engine optimization to a department of more than 50 people working across the entire business. A good part of their responsibilities includes extensive data preparation, plus ongoing training and two-way communication. Fine-tuning the solution to optimize results has been, relatively speaking, the easy part. Preparing people…

Hybrid Cloud Is The Antidote For Stressed Retailers

The retail industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, yet delivering a superior consumer experience remains a key differentiator for modern retailers. Consumers expect a seamless experience when interacting with retail brands. The new digital era has made engagement continuous, literally at any hour of the day and at any place. A buyer may research a new product at home, put that product into their digital shopping cart while in the office, purchase it from a mobile device and collect it at the local retail store that same evening. Retailers compete for mindshare and wallet share across screens, locations and time. To thrive in this omnichannel world, retailers must harness the power of data to stay one step ahead of the competition and predict the desires of the consumer — often before the consumer even realizes it themselves. The days of brick-and-mortar being the sole touch point for buying decisions is long gone. Yet many retailers continue to rely on an IT model optimized for this period.

Study: Strategic Mindset, Embrace Of New Technology Separate Retail ‘Thrivers’ From ‘Survivors’

The difference between floundering retailers and those that are succeeding isn’t just a matter of sales — it’s also a matter of mindset. There is a clear strategic distinction between Thrivers, who are profitable and experiencing strong growth, and Survivors, who are stable but just breaking even. Retailers can learn what type of company they are — and how to move into the Thriver category — by studying how each group approaches problems, according to the 2019 BDO Retail Rationalized Survey.

Data Overload: Retailers Are Being Crippled By Huge Volumes Of Data

The conversation around data strategies erupted alongside the evolution of e-Commerce in the 1990s. Since then, businesses have continually tried to address data strategy gaps and challenges — with widely varying levels of success. As early as 2011, it was estimated that a retailer with a strong data-centric e-Commerce strategy could increase its operating margin by more than 60%. By 2015, data was well-established as a critical factor in e-Commerce success. Still, that year, only half of retailers were leveraging a data-centric e-Commerce approach. One-third felt they reaped no benefits from doing so. This tells us is, not that data-centricity doesn’t work, but that many retailers were — and still are — getting it wrong.

Exclusive Q&A: Shinola President Reveals How Customer Insights Shape Evolving Loyalty Strategy

Shinola has consistently stood out from the crowd, both with an unlikely combination of product categories (high-quality watches, bicycles and leather goods) and a commitment to manufacturing those products itself. But its diverse product line and do-it-yourself supply chain are ultimately supporting players. What has made Shinola thrive has been its ability to deliver a sense of authenticity and storytelling that deepens the customer relationship, with shopper insights driving the retailer’s loyalty strategies even further. During a Q&A conducted via Skype, Glenn Taylor of Retail TouchPoints sat down with Shannon Washburn, President of Shinola, to get a first look at her upcoming Retail Innovation Conference (RIC) session with Ernan Roman, President of ERDM Corp., which will highlight the retailer’s powerful though non-traditional loyalty strategies. Additionally, Washburn gives insights into: The work Shinola has done with third-party firms to generate customer insights, drive brand awareness and improve customer retention; The company’s entrance into the hotel business with the opening of the Shinola Hotel in January 2019; Shinola’s approach to personalization both online and in stores, particularly with the deployment of in-store artisans in six markets; and How her time as a merchandise buyer provided a solid foundation for her career.

Exclusive Q&A: How Kroger Boosts Sales By Connecting Brands To Customers

Kroger has been able to connect the brands it carries with its customers in a way few other retailers can match, through the Kroger Precision Marketing (KPM) program. The initiative was established by Kroger’s 84.51° analytics and technology division to provide brand partners with additional transparency and improved sales, while creating a new revenue source for Kroger itself. Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen called the retailer’s alternative revenue streams “a virtuous cycle” that “works both from a customer standpoint and from an economic standpoint” in an October 2018 statement delivered to investors. While the company declined to provide exact numbers, Kroger officials noted that revenue from sources such as media is growing faster than 20% annually, and will play a major role in boosting the company’s annual operating profit to $400 million by 2020. Kroger is well positioned to “moonlight” as a marketing adviser because of its powerful loyalty program, which reaches 60 million households and 96% of all Kroger transactions. During the eight weeks leading up to Oct. 30, 2018, 74% of active shoppers gave Kroger a valid email address, name and address, and 94% of those said they want to receive communications from Kroger. Kroger can directly leverage the…

Turning Retailers’ Cybersecurity Strategy Inside Out

Cybersecurity professionals across industries are responsible for three distinct areas: 1) data confidentiality (ensuring privacy); 2) data integrity (ensuring accuracy); and 3) network/service/application availability (ensuring uptime). Since the advent of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) a decade ago, the retail industry has maintained a singular focus on confidentiality — more specifically, protecting customers’ credit card data. Retailers have devoted significant time, resources and budget to protecting their point of sale terminals, preventing data breaches and demonstrating PCI compliance. And as a result of their prioritization of payment security, coupled with the emergence of security technologies such as EMV chips, the risk of credit card theft has declined significantly over the past few years.

Personalization Best Practices For Data-Centric Retailers

In a world where your customers and prospects are expecting personalized communication, more customer data means more complex marketing programs. Unfortunately, for large business-to-consumer (B2C) retail companies, the sheer size and complexity of a customer dataset can result in less personalization. But this doesn’t mean enterprise retailers can’t excel at personalization. Below are three best practices for effectively accessing and using customer data for increased personalization.

Top 2019 Trends: More AI, Inclusivity, Social Engagement And The Next Generation Of Flagship Stores

The coming year will be a time of reinvention for both retail as a whole and physical stores in particular, according to Coresight Research. The company’s analysts project that the industry will become faster, smarter and more streamlined, with improved supply chains and better integration between online and offline channels.

Understanding Generational Differences: Why More Data Should Mean More Value For Customers

You have likely heard a lot about Millennials — roughly 80 million Americans ages 23 to 41 — and perhaps a bit less about Generation Z — roughly 70 million Americans ages 7 to 22. Chances are, though, you have heard from Gen Z more than you realize. These younger generations are sharing vast amounts of information. Not surprisingly, they are actively engaged on social media sites and feeds. Up to 60% of Millennials on Twitter tweet every day, 96% of Gen Z teens are on YouTube, and almost 70% of Gen Z is on Instagram. As social media provides an opportunity for conversation, both generations share freely — photos, jokes, current events and their thoughts on a wide variety of topics, as they seek ways to connect and feel known, loved and respected. These younger generations say they feel more connected by virtue of participation and feel they are getting something in return.
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