Retailers can leverage their BI platform to build custom information-driven applications as well as embed advanced BI and analytics in their existing CRM and marketing automation solutions.
The NRF show is underway right now in New York City. Coming right after the holiday season, we know the sales performance results for 2014. In the US, 2014 holiday sales grew by a modest 4 percent compared to 2013. Shoppers continue to be very price sensitive and pragmatic in their purchases. To achieve growth retailers had to offer deep discounts and door-buster specials. Given that the 2015 economic forecast is lukewarm, retailers can continue to expect thrifty consumers.
So what can they do to save costs and drive sales?
Let’s be clear: both cost savings and revenue growth will come from better technology utilization as all other costs have already been cut. In other words, retailers can only grow by doing more with less. As retailers try to save costs they will move to digitize more of their operations and processes. As they try to be more relevant to consumers in order to capture more sales, they will move to consumer lifecycle management systems (CLMS) see Forrester Report.
Both of these trends will involve several steps:
Utilize data integration technology across all channels to provide a 360-degree view of all the interaction points with the consumer. This view must be available in real time. Hence, IT has to move beyond the traditional batch integration to real-time integration methods and technologies.
Implement data quality and MDM across all consumer channels to provide golden records for seamless consumer experience and consumer analytics. And also apply MDM to all purchasing and merchandizing to shave additional costs and weed out inefficiencies. A well done MDM implementation can also result in systems reduction. It is crucial to choose an MDM platform with embedded best practices in order to shrink the implementation cycle from several years to a few months.
Optimize customer engagement management across all touch points and most importantly link the in-store and online experience so as not to cannibalize store traffic. But furthermore, retailers have to link the consumer in-store experience to their social networks – a challenge that I will discuss in another blog.
Implement a real-time enterprise analytics framework for analysts, managers, and operational employees to discover insights, and operationalize these insights into actionable tactics. That implies that we have to change how BI and analytics are implemented. The platform has to provide the tools that allow analysts to tap into data and discover insights quickly. Then those insights have to be converted into InfoApps that can be distributed via an “appstore-like” portal to front line employees, who can tap into them to make instantaneous, fact-based decisions. And finally, management needs real-time performance dashboards to monitor and ensure that the desired behavioral change and performance outcomes are occurring on the front lines.
And let’s face it, given economic realities most companies will try to do most of this with existing technologies, minimizing their investments in new software to only those technologies that can produce significant ROI, shrink the deployment cycle, and scale to meet new customer-facing application demand. The good news for retailers is that for most of the tasks outlined above they do not need to supplement existing technologies with custom code development in order to avoid investments in new software. They can leverage the BI platform to build custom information-driven applications as well as embed advanced BI and analytics in their existing CRM and marketing automation solutions. This approach will require companies to push their BI and analytics teams beyond their comfort zone of packaged tools and applications, and into the realm of customization. But by doing this the retailers will create valuable competitive know-how that uniquely suits their strategy.
Information Bloggers is a conversation between people at the nexus of business analytics, mobile apps, cloud computing, social media, and big data. Together we are developing information management strategies that change behavior and transform business. Many of us work for Information Builders and, as such, are passionate about customer satisfaction and dedicated to excellence. Our views are our own. Welcome to the discussion!