By Sanjeev Sularia, Co-founder & CEO, Intelligence Node
Sanjeev Sularia, Co-founder & CEO, Intelligence Node
In today’s consumer-focused retail universe, obsessed as it is with super-personalization and relevance, every retailer needs to understand the shopper. The reason is clear; retailers and e-tailers have to create curated, synchronized, relevant, and simplified customer engagement at every touch point, in real time. The consequence to that business driver means proper analytics are becoming more and more imperative, as they may be our only way of meeting our goals of increased customer relevance, reduced customer churn, and higher basket sizes, as well as locally relevant offers.
The sector knows this, of course. Among those retailers with a mature technology strategy, the CDW Retail Market IT survey found that 33 percent of line of business managers and retail innovators say drawing intelligence from data is their organizational top priority right now. Business intelligence solutions have been used for decades – so what’s changed? The problem is that first-generation BI (Business Intelligence) is nowhere near the standard of modern big data analytics tools hitting the market today.
A Real-Time Trading Platform for All Your Products
That’s because of the rapid explosion of data that has taken place since the introduction into our lives of mobile Internet/smartphones. In response, brands have been seeking any way they can to turn unstructured and structured information into more actionable insights. Analytics serves as the best path forward. Big Data analysis is a key competitive advantage that can bolster razor-thin margins, streamline operations and increase sales, even in the toughest markets. Data analytics can tell you, for example, what the competition is doing, and enable a rapid turn round in pricing strategies in product lines. It can also pinpoint trends, enable ordering to keep in line with demand and target promotions and customer preferences.
It is worth noting that big data analytics and retail customer intelligence solutions have also been rapidly evolving for years; indeed, there are no signs that innovation will begin to drop off anytime soon. The cause is again clear to those working at the coal-face; retailers are demanding to be kept competitive with the best practices available, and so crave for the best tools to achieve goals in order to avoid falling behind the pack and putting themselves at risk of suffering poor retention and loyalty. A few great use cases exemplify what can be achieved via today’s cutting-edge analytics. Take U.S. firm Jet.com, whose business model is built around deeper discounts off more being added to a basket. Jet’s software program has been described by its CEO, Marc Lore, as ‘a real-time trading platform’, as it basically digs out ways of making your purchasing ever more efficient; if you order cat food and a cat bowl, the software will find out if you can buy a cat bed at almost no additional shipping cost, enticing the customer into making another purchase. It isn’t just discounters that are investing in big data analytics to better understand and draw in customers. Another U.S. firm, Whole Foods Market, for instance, has integrated its systems tightly so data is available across all platforms, which means that as well as pricing details, customers can be offered additional data to its customers’ value, such as animal welfare ratings or where food was sourced. This firm also recently linked up with Instacart to test delivery and pick up in select U.S. cities, a move that means shoppers ordering via a mobile app or website can get deliveries within the hour – all based on data, and an initiative that will generate even further data for analysis to improve the service. Finally, Indonesian retailer MAP, says a centralized view of competitors is enabling it to make better day-to-day pricing decisions and help plan overall strategy.
Plan Your Overall Strategy
Capturing consistent, accurate and in-depth data for analysis is not easy - but the players that can best use the data in their systems to retain loyal customers and win over new ones will be the ones that thrive in our increasingly competitive global electronic marketplace.
There are new technology innovations that can help you do that. These include a number of advanced features, of which perhaps the most important is multilingual pricing and analytics to help retailers gain real-time, accurate pricing and merchandizing intelligence, no matter the geography. That’s going to be more and more important as country boundaries disappear. Via Natural Language Processing (NLP) layer, contextual meaning can be accurately preserved: for example, a word can mean both ‘jacket’ and ‘blazer’ in Greek, so without contextual understanding, it can easily be mislabeled on an e-Commerce website. As Indian firms expand their sales footprint, being able to get localization right is going to matter more and more.
Do You Want To Win, Or Fall Further & Further Behind?
To sum up, business leaders should recognize that modern analytics solutions are far more powerful than the iterations of the past, and can be used to improve a wide range of operational processes when properly implemented and managed. Capturing consistent, accurate and in-depth data for analysis is not easy, but the Indian firms that best use the data they get every day to delight their loyal customers and win over new ones will be the ones to come out on top.