Integrated Digital Technologies for Retail

Integrated Digital Technologies for Retail

By: Reid Greenberg, SVP, Kantar Retail

Integrated Digital TechnologyReid Greenberg, SVP, Kantar Retail

1) eCommerce Companies have to integrate data across the retail enterprise to have a 360-degree view of the customer, but it’s not an easy thing to do. What are your thoughts on getting this act right?

Data integration is typically one of the greatest challenges retailers, CPGs and eCommerce companies tackle. And the 360-degree view is the aspirational goal to achieve yet most companies struggle to reach. The 360-degree view of the consumer requires a strategy informed by big data analytics that enables the integration of structured data or data that can reside in the rows and columns of a data warehouse, with unstructured data from ‘open’ sources such as social media combined with the complete elimination of data-silos. Ecommerce and CPG companies that are able to integrate these sources of data, centralize and leverage them to make data-informed decisions will have a unique advantage over competitors. Getting this built and mapped right is the difficult goal. Thankfully, with cloud-based marketing platforms that CRM companies have built the task is becoming marginally easier. The best way to ensure success is to have several key components in place prior to even talking to potential vendors such as, what business issue are you trying to solve, do you have the right internal resources to manage the system (such as business analyst and data scientists), the right crawl-walk-run approach, executive level sponsorship, and budget and a right partner that aligns with your company’s goals and mission.

2) Changing consumer expectations are intersecting with a confluence of cloud computing, analytics, social, business, and mobile to fundamentally reshape commerce—with huge implications for retailers. What have you done to successfully run a business in the midst of rising tech expectations?

Geometry Global, a WPP company and partner of Kantar Retail, in their Connected Shopper Study, reveals that while only 7 percent of Internet users make online purchases regularly, some 65 percent, nonetheless, use digital channels to research and browse prior to making a purchase. This confirms our own Kantar Retail studies in ShopperScape™ that in-store purchases are absolutely influenced through online activities. As a result, brands and retailers must think beyond just the online purchase and consider the role that digital channels play in their categories before, during, and after purchase. This leads back to what I call “Everywhere Commerce”. The fact that commerce can and is influenced by everything everywhere no matter what channel the actual purchase takes place. The important point to make is that retailers and CPG brands need to have a complete view of their shoppers so that there are moments of intersection along the purchase decision journey. The right content in the right time at the right place. Marketers should not be worrying about the 4Ps anymore; those are table stakes. Hopefully, you’ve figured this out long ago. Now it’s about meeting consumer expectations when they are looking, exploring, researching, and converting—and layering it with moments of personalization.

3) How technology is revolutionizing some of the following segments essential for a Retailers' success.

a) Reporting and Analytics (social, mobile, reporting)

I’ll mention CRM and the marketing cloud again as an example of how technology is enabling greater success and integration in reporting and analytics. Silo elimination and the complete look and understanding of the shopper no matter how they buy and interact with your brand, store or site is a key competency to invest in. Understanding these types of insights can help deliver custom promotions and offers to your shopper both in store and online. It’s also important to not get blinded by the data and make decisions in a vacuum. Be sure to understand the true and real ways that shoppers shop your stores and catagories through the use of consumer insights as well.

b) E-Commerce (B2C, B2B, Mobile Commerce)

The technology stack that powers the transactional process can and should be one of the company’s greatest and thoughtful investments. Levering cloud-first technology will equate to substantial benefits for eCommerce and retailers including reduction in hosting and equipment costs, increases in capacity, streamlined operations, enhanced collaboration, and increased productivity and output. As businesses compete in a world that is experiencing margin erosion and limited consumer attention, a cloud-first approach can help in creating an agile environment that can learn and grown.

c) Core Operations (Store operations, merchandising, Infrastructure)

IoT is destined to have the single, greatest impact to supply chain and store operations. In fact, IBM predicts that by the end of 2018, connected processes will drive 15 percent productivity improvements for manufacturing supply chains. By connecting the store shelf to the back room, ‘smart shelves’ will recognize when inventory is low and could potentially reorder directly from the manufacturer. Another example is food safety, which is a major concern for retailers and consumers. In some cases, IoT technology enabled by radio frequency identification (RFID) has helped to make fish safer for consumption by tracking every end point in the supply chain. Stores will begin to display real time promotions based on individual consumers is already happening (requires opt-in technology, of course). Understanding purchase trends in behaviors in key markets will help retailers build more targeted locations with the right product mix and less waste.

4) How are Big Data and Analytics Transforming In-Store Experience for Retailers

At Kantar Retail, we are confident in our forecasts on how big eCommerce will become. In fact, we anticipate total eCommerce sales to leap from 11 percent in 2017 to more than 18 percent by 2021. Even with these staggering figures and our bullish eCommerce outlook, this still leaves anywhere from 70-80 percent of sales taking place through brick and mortar locations. This is a fact that retailers and CPG manufacturers cannot ignore. Those retailers that can provide a true ‘Everywhere Commerce’ experience to the shopper will win. This means using beacon technology to know what shopper is walking through the door and what her buying preferences are. What days she shops, if she has a gluten-free household, has children or what her favorite brands are. From this type of information stored in the CRM/system, merchandising, personalization, convenience, and engagement can be delivered at new levels with greater outcomes. With technology capabilities from cloud-based CRM companies and with the right talent to deploy them, retailers can now have highly efficient, intuitive ways to extend digital experiences to brick and mortar. For example, strategically placed third-party displays can change dynamically based on the shopper to display interactivity that makes shopping more personalized, immersive, and even entertaining. With integrated digital technologies, shopping experiences are not only much more enjoyable for shoppers, they can produce higher basket sizes, generate consumer loyalty and deeper, cross-category purchases. Having deep shopper insights is key. Marketers from both the retailer and CPGs can now connect brick and mortar and digital interactions to create unique, highly personalized in store experiences.

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