Johannesburg, 08 Feb 2024
For years, the industry has advocated for the benefits offered by business intelligence (BI), but many retailers are still struggling to get the most out of their data. As retail continues to evolve in a rapidly digitising world, companies are looking for different ways to use that data to attract and retain customers.
Considering that 50% of consumer spend is happening online these days, and that consumers are more informed and empowered than ever, with high expectations for personalised experiences, retailers are under pressure to keep up and stay ahead. This means that they have to manage their inventories smartly and tailor offerings that resonate with diverse market segments.
Many have not taken their BI initiatives any further than using customer data to understand behaviours, preferences and buying patterns, but some retailers are using technology to drive growth and enhance operational efficiencies. Data is providing the lever through which their digital transformation initiatives are helping them to gain valuable insights, optimise operations and enhance customer experiences.
Creating a data ecosystem
Seventy-five percent of the data stored by companies is not used, providing a huge opportunity for retailers to not only improve and personalise the service they offer customers, but to expand and enhance their operations. From in-depth insights into customer behaviours to enabling innovations like contactless and omnichannel interactions, data can provide a variety of “golden nuggets” that will allow the business to stay ahead of customer demands – and competitors.
The retail landscape is constantly evolving and highly competitive. It's no longer just brick-and-mortar versus online stores; it's a complex web of omnichannel experiences where the digital and physical intertwine. Data is the key to bringing all of those experiences, channels and touch points together to create an ecosystem geared towards serving customers more effectively than ever before.
Retailers already have access to data points like buying frequency and historical data on trends. If they use all of the moments of truth they are capturing, they can go beyond steering customers in the direction they want, using each interaction as an opportunity to change customer behaviour. Using AI, they can make product recommendations that go further than merely providing historical correlations, creating the truly personalised types of interactions today’s customers are demanding.
Similarly, data can help revolutionise inventory management, optimising order fulfilment. With an in-depth understanding of what is needed, where it is needed and when, retailers can better manage lead times and ensure that they are carrying the right volumes of stock at all times. This can enable them to start offering contactless interactions because their systems can support self-service checkout and easy pickup or collection of stock.
Building for the future
The key to enabling these benefits lies in a modern data platform. As retailers start to invest in their data operations, they will collect information at more data points, which means they will have to manage more data, which can lead to big data problems. Storing data efficiently is vital, as is ensuring that the systems in the back-end are able to scale effectively.
A modern data platform provides a single entry point where retailers can explore various permutations of their products and services. Providing access to all their data through a single lens, retailers can use the data platform to enable self-service, improve their supply chain, inventory management and merchandising, as well as security and governance.
When retailers let go of old ways of thinking, they will be able to remove the barriers currently preventing them from getting the most out of their data. It’s time for retailers to start thinking big if they want to provide seamless experiences that will set them apart from competitors. Many are already aware that making a seamless experience happen is a data-heavy exercise, but if they start building for competitive advantage now, leveraging the latest technology and the right partners, they can start growing their business through exceptional customer service.