A Little Problem With Big Data

Courtesy RetailWire.comA STIMULATING DISCUSSION in RetailWire.com this morning led me to once again think deeply about how retailers are confronting so-called Big Data and applying it to their businesses.

The question posed was an intriguing one, given the continuing hype and mysticism ascribed to Big Data over the past several years.

What is your take on the advancements (or not) retailers are making in the use of data capture and analysis? Is it all leading to significantly improved customer experiences down the road, or something less?

The responses mostly seemed to accept two tacit assumptions: One, that all store data is Big Data. Two, that the primary goal of Big Data analytics is the creation of targeted promotional offers. I have a little problem with that.

When did retail POS data suddenly become Big Data? We’ve been collecting it (and mostly discarding it) for decades. Now that storage costs have finally declined, we can capture and hold it long enough to run a few queries and design a few models. Shopper in-store data really hasn’t changed much, but our ability to mine its potential has certainly advanced.

Certainly data flows from the POS and frequent shopper programs continue to expand. There are even some new sources, like in-store shopper tracking, entering the mix. Yes there’s lots of data. But is this really Big Data?

Read more

Know Assortment. Really.

ASSORTMENT IS A CRUCIAL AREA of retail practice about which much knowledge is assumed, but far less is generally understood. Leading practitioners are moving swiftly to adopt superior business processes that turn assortment into a competitive edge:

  • They incorporate cannibalization and transferable demand in their assortment decision process.
  • They gauge the needs and preferences of highest-value shoppers and apply those insights to create cluster- or store-specific recommendations.

If your organization does not yet address these methods, don’t be out-maneuvered by competition that does. Learn the five key enablers for assortment optimization success by signing up for this free Webinar:

 Assortment Webinar Banner

Webinar: Tuesday, Jan 8, 2013, 12:00 PM, EST

Featured speakers:

  • Jean-Emmanuel Biondi, Principal, Deloitte Consulting
  • Quentin Smelzer, Market Segment Manager, Assortment & Shopper Insights, IBM
  • Mark Heckman, Principal, Mark Heckman Consulting – Former VP of Marketing for Randalls and Marsh Supermarkets

Click the banner or this link to sign up at RetailWire.com: bit.ly/Xv5SBO

© Copyright 2012 James Tenser
(This article was commissioned by IBM, which is granted the right of republication. All other rights reserved.)

Price Transparency: An Opaque Matter?

ALMOST OVERLOOKED during the Autumn business conference-slash-election season was a nicely-done bit of research about the new price transparency.

Prepared by RetailWire.com and underwritten by IBM Smarter Commerce, the study “Pricing Transparency: Can Retailers Regain Control?” was released October 5. It was conducted in an effort to better understand the phenomenon known as “show-rooming,” where shoppers use apps on their mobile phones to check merchandise prices while shopping in-store.

The study authors define “pricing transparency” as “The ability to learn the relative price positions of a particular item across competitive retailers.”  The trend had some folks pretty nervous around mid-year, especially retailers who specialize in high-consideration purchases, like consumer electronics.

The findings indicated that Price Transparency falls mid-level on the continuum of general retailer concerns – below the economy, competition and consumer behavior. Considered among pricing practices, however,  respondents did worry about consumer price sensitivity in general (ranked as #1 concern by 35%) and transparency in particular (ranked #1 by 21%).

Increased price sensitivity seems to be an enduring consequence of the recent protracted economic downturn. Many shoppers have re-evaluated their purchasing behaviors. Smart phone apps both enable and reinforce these behavioral changes.

Retailers have some effective defenses available beyond absolute lowest prices. Most are related to enabling shopper success in other dimensions. Superior, relevant assortment, exclusive items, and excellent item availability all can have a positive influence here, the findings suggest.

The best practice formula remains somewhat murky in the brave new world of transparent prices, but this research begins to make matters clearer. An Executive Summary of the “Pricing Transparency: Can Retailers Regain Control?” study, can be downloaded at: http://www.retailwire.com/page/10133/.

© Copyright 2012 James Tenser
(This article was commissioned by IBM, which is granted the right of republication. All other rights reserved.)

Wrestling With Markdowns?
This Webinar Can Help

FOR SOFTLINES MERCHANTS, end-of-season markdowns are a necessary evil that clears the racks and frees cash, but too often margins are sacrificed in the process. A markdown analytics solution can bring vast improvements to these activities, resulting in markdowns that are fewer, better timed, and less deep.

Our friends at IBM DemandTec have teamed with Deloitte to offer a webinar geared especially for softlines retailers, which explores how integrating in-season (promotions) and end-of season (clearance) pricing decisions can reduce the amount of excess inventory that has to be heavily marked down at the end of each season.

Learn how these decisions can be optimized and implemented at the store and item level, ensuring greater shopper success and business performance. To register and attend this free webinar, click the banner below.

Markdowns in Softlines: Are you cutting your cloth too late?

Webinar Date: Nov. 7, 2012
Time: 8 am Pacific/11 am Eastern
Featured speaker: Chris Goodin, Principal Deloitte Consulting

© Copyright 2012 James Tenser
(This article was commissioned by IBM, which is granted the right of republication. All other rights reserved.)
%d bloggers like this: