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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.

How Retailers Can Become Resilient To Costly Outages

Earlier this year, Target had a major database outage as a result of an error made during regular retail information system (RIS) maintenance. During the outage, Target was unable to process consumer credit card transactions for over an hour, resulting in a frustrating experience for shoppers. In 2019, when high availability is the norm, why do retailers still experience outages? And what can retailers like Target do to avoid costly downtime in advance of the holiday season?

Does Rash Of Retail CEO Departures Signal New Requirements For Leaders?

The sudden departure announcements (two on the same day, Oct. 22) of three high-profile retail CEOs — Nike’s Mark Parker, Under Armour’s Kevin Plank and Gap’s Art Peck — highlight a surge in C-level turnover across multiple industries. Companies saw 151 chief executives leave their posts across all industries in October, a 14% increase over September and a 15% increase over October 2018, according to executive search firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Retail in particular saw a greater than 50% increase this year: 47 CEOs departed between January and October, up from 30 during the same period in 2018. October alone saw seven departures, spiking from four in September. While there aren’t significant commonalities connecting the recent resignations, this number of shakeups implies that the companies are forcefully and publicly charting new courses. “The CEO is this very visible, public-facing person,” said Deb Gabor, CEO and Founder of Sol Marketing in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Strongly encouraging them to leave on their own or dismissing them from their role is a statement the organization is making to its customers, its investors and its competitors — its entire ecosystem. It says, ‘We're not going to put up with this anymore,…

Holiday 2019 Predictions: Retailers Have High Expectations Despite Shortened Selling Season

Losing six days between Thanksgiving and Christmas isn’t putting a damper on holiday spending plans: the average shopper is planning to spend $1,047.83 this holiday season, up 4% from 2018, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Sales during November and December are expected to rise between 2.8% and 4.2% over last year, reaching between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion. “With Black Friday weekend and approaching deadlines, holiday shopping gets more intense as we get further into the season, but the number of days between Thanksgiving and Christmas simply isn’t as important as it used to be,” said Katherine Cullen, Senior Director of Industry and Consumer Insights at NRF in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Consumers have been starting their shopping earlier for years now, and retailers have responded by offering deals and promotions sooner. Our research shows that more than a third of shoppers start by Halloween, so the timeframe of the holiday season keeps expanding.” Digital revenue in particular is expected to be even more robust. E-Commerce will see 13% year-over-year growth, fueling total sales of $13 billion between Nov. 1 and December 31, according to Salesforce, while Coresight Research projects that slightly more than 23% of all…

5 Things Retailers Can Do To Avoid Chargebacks

For decades, EDI has been the standard of how businesses exchange information, documents, and data — to this day it still remains a backbone for global business, but some would argue that it’s outdated, not easy to understand, and requires technical expertise (and they wouldn’t be entirely wrong). The biggest challenge is that most companies assume an "if it ain't broke, don’t fix it” approach, where they react to an issue when it happens but don’t think about how they can avoid it in the future — simply put, they’re not being proactive. This approach can be a costly one for today’s businesses and is especially true for retail, an industry that is making strides with new technologies. Yet something as mundane as EDI isn’t thought of as a technology that could significantly, positively impact their business — they’re looking at new, shiny technologies like IoT, AR and AI.

Mastering Omnichannel Buying Journeys With Predictive Analytics

To compete with Amazon, Walmart has invested heavily in automation. Just recently, the company recruited a fleet of autonomous floor scrubbers and more than doubled the number of conveyor belts in its shipping processes. But automating operations is unlikely to give Walmart stores a significant leg up on Amazon. Although increasing efficiency and reducing costs have a place in retail, those strategies do little to encourage customer engagement and loyalty.

“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.
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