Data Analytics – A Merchandiser’s Secret Weapon, Not Its Secret Enemy
In the retail industry, data is no longer a buzzword, it’s a commonplace term, an expected consequence from interacting with the customer and the key to advancing the business by tracking, analyzing and delivering forward-thinking insights on the customer’s next step.
If the retail industry is at the tipping point of this shift in data intelligence, then merchandisers are the balancing weight. However, in order for merchandisers to take advantage of this data-driven environment, they must look to harness the power of advanced analytics by asking the right questions and pinpointing the right data to push their organization forward.
Taking that into consideration, what are the right questions (or pain points) and areas of concern retailers should be focusing on? How can advanced data analytics step in to help merchandisers achieve profitable results?
This past summer, we sat down with industry thought leaders to discuss their biggest focus areas for the future. Top themes that emerged included:
- Aesthetics delivered by intelligence: Until these last few years, merchandisers have been driven by gut instinct based on what is beautiful and appealing. As data technology continues to permeate the industry, there is a need to deliver beautiful, yet intelligence-driven merchandise.
- Keeping up with the “likes” of the Joneses: Currently, retailers are dealing with how to keep up with the pace of consumers’ preferences. Take for example Amazon’s fast delivery options via Amazon Prime, allowing many consumers to receive their orders as soon as the same day. Consequently, there is a growing concern surrounding the loss of consumers when retailers are not able to deliver at the same lightning speed and if they strive to —How can you truly tell if that is in fact improving your business? In this scenario, retailers want to utilize data intelligence to effectively offer customers what the data-backed information says they desire. Being able to assess changes in consumers’ preferences in a timely fashion allows merchandisers to maintain the human component of their roles. They are able to offer a customer experience that goes beyond the product – honing in on the brand’s overall concept and message.
- Empowering merchants through data analytics: Retailers are not only focusing on putting the power of data analytics in merchants’ hands, but also helping them understand the best steps to take with this data. One example is ensuring that merchandisers are assessing the appropriate metrics. This translates into a connected environment where merchants are empowered to really utilize data intelligence gathered from customers and their interaction with brands across each channel and selling point. Most importantly, it creates an advanced process with the end goal of maintaining a retailer’s bottom line and enhancing the customer experience.
Retail is now capable of accessing the most advanced tier of analytics: prescriptive analytics. Meaning, you no longer merely know what’s happening and why, but the insights as to how to capitalize on those opportunities. As a result, merchandisers are now empowered to use data analytics to eliminate silos, solve problems in real-time and push their organization to the next level. Needless to say, even though prescriptive analytics can pinpoint themes and areas of concern, it does not replace the human role, but acts as a merchandiser’s secret weapon.
The key here is for merchandisers to achieve a balance on perfecting the science of data analytics –making data analytics serve as merchandiser’s virtual assistant, while maintaining the art associated with their role. Such a combination allows merchandisers to move at a consumer’s pace. They become armed with the connected cross-channel data to actually utilize the analytics to position themselves as innovators and leaders, as they implement the right strategies to achieve success.
For the latest metrics by which retail success will be measured, check out our guidebook leading into 2017 to ensure the best year of your career: The 2016 Merchant Manual.