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Retail and Consumer Goods Analytics Study 2018: May the Best Insights Win

RIS News – Challenged at one end by digital behemoths and at the other by nimble, born-in-the-cloud startups, retailers and consumer goods companies are under tremendous pressure to deliver exceptional, personalized customer experiences that drive revenue and repeat business. The emergence of an analytics arms race has forced companies to find ways to expend their limited resources on technologies and applications they believe will deliver the most bang for the buck.

As retail and CG executives seek to build their analytics infrastructure, governance and talent pools, they must also rethink internal processes and shift their cultures toward an analytics mindset. And even as they gain capabilities, new market demands emerge that continually raise the bar ever higher.

But the analytics marketplace is also evolving rapidly, offering new capabilities such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, supported by cloud architecture, that carry the potential to turbocharge analytics programs. These not only discern data patterns more quickly, but sometimes even generate their own algorithms to further fine-tune output.

Comments from Ken Morris, Principal, BRP:

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“While advanced analytics are valuable for almost all areas of retail, they are most critical for replenishment and customer personalization,” says Ken Morris, principal at BRP Consulting. “Advanced analytics are necessary to predict inventory levels across channels that are complicated by omnichannel fulfillment.”

Although analytics is important to every aspect of retailing, “You can’t over-emphasize the customer aspect of analytics, as it is imperative,” says Morris. “Understanding what loyal customers like and what makes former loyal customers leave will tell you where you need to focus.”

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“Retailers are recognizing the value of centralizing applications in the cloud: speed of deployment, faster software updates, lower software, hardware and maintenance costs, and a realtime, single version of the truth,” says Morris. “Real-time visibility and access to product and customer information is critical to effectively executing cross-channel fulfillment services. Without real-time data, information provided internally and externally is out-of-date and, therefore, risks being inaccurate and out of context.”

Read Full Article: Retail and Consumer Goods Analytics Study 2018: May the Best Insights Win

Same-Day Delivery Drives Brand Loyalty and Purchase Intent

TotalRetail – While the holidays come just once a year, a brand’s reputation can easily be damaged and customers quickly lost when expectations aren’t met during the pivotal shopping season. This past holiday season, we saw retailers make changes to their delivery options to provide shoppers with conveniences they increasingly see as essential, like same-day delivery. At the same time, in what’s become an annual ritual, the major shipping providers announced an array of rate increases and late holiday deliveries.

Managing shipping costs is a challenge for retailers, which are already facing tight margins and immense competition. While last-mile delivery, or the final transit of a product to its destination, can be the most expensive and poses numerous challenges for retailers, it’s nonetheless a key differentiator and an offering retailers can no longer ignore.

According to Dropoff’s 2nd Annual Holiday Survey, 60 percent of U.S. holiday shoppers indicated they were more likely to purchase holiday gifts from retailers that offered same-day delivery. It also showed a significant number of consumers — 67 percent — planned to do last-minute shopping, and expected retailers to accommodate their needs. Ninety percent of last-minute shoppers said they were more likely to purchase from retailers offering same-day delivery.

Interestingly enough, Boston Retail Partners’ 2017 Digital Commerce Survey showed that same-day delivery was offered by 51 percent of retailers in 2017. While that number seems significant, more than half of those described their service as “implemented and needs improvement.” It’s clear retailers are headed in the right direction, but there are a few areas to focus on to ensure you’re on the right path to delivering the most cost-effective, efficient and reliable same-day delivery for your customers.

Read Full Article: Same-Day Delivery Drives Brand Loyalty and Purchase Intent

Four reasons why artificial intelligence belongs in your customer service strategy

Outsourcing-Today – At its core, artificial intelligence (AI) is about simplifying, streamlining and organizing information. Machines take on duties that have traditionally fallen to humans, freeing them up for more important and nuanced tasks.

When you break it down like this, it’s no wonder AI is becoming such a big part of customer service. With tools like chatbots and intelligent analytics platforms applied to the customer experience, contact center agents now have more time to deliver the personalized attention customers crave.

But that’s only one of the benefits of integrating AI into your customer service strategy. Leveraging this evolving technology can also have a positive effect on your business operations, brand and bottom line.

According to a recent study conducted by retail management consulting firm Boston Retail Partners, 45 percent of retailers intend to use artificial intelligence to enhance their customer experience within the next three years. In the travel and hospitality industry, 58 percent of businesses are already automating areas that include customer service and AI is becoming increasingly prevalent among financial services companies.

Read Full Article: Four reasons why artificial intelligence belongs in your customer service strategy

Study: Outdated Planning Solutions Hamper Customer-Centricity

Retail TouchPoints – Retailers know that success in today’s environment requires them to align their systems and organizations around fulfilling customer-led demand. But outdated planning systems and the legacy of channel-specific inventories still present major stumbling blocks many retailers. Still, brands including Uniqlo, Zara andBonobos have solved some of these challenges, in part by more closely aligning customer data with planning systems.

In its 2017 Merchandise Planning Benchmark Survey, Boston Retail Partners (BRP) set out to gauge the current state of retail planning processes and systems, including merchandise planning, assortment planning and localization, store planning, allocation, omnichannel demand planning and space planning. “To innovate the customer experience, [retailers] must transform their disparate systems, processes and organization into one cohesive environment with the ability to offer customers a seamless shopping environment across any channel and the capability to deliver merchandise immediately — wherever it is needed,” according to the report.

The survey underscores the fact that there are still opportunities for better integration across channels — and the people, processes and technology to support them. “Customers use technology daily to enable and control their shopping journey,” said Gene Bornac, Senior Vice President of BRP in a statement. “Now it is up to retailers to play catch up with their organization, processes and technology to deliver the right products for the right price in the right place.”

Read Full Article: Study: Outdated Planning Solutions Hamper Customer-Centricity

Omnichannel Disconnect: Survey Shows Having a Strategy Doesn’t Always Result in Successful Execution

HFN – Retailers are acknowledging there’s a major gap between their expectations regarding an omnichannel plan and their ability to execute it.

As a new report from Boston Retail Partners (BRP) pointed out, retailers are increasingly focused on transforming their entire merchandising process and “customer-centricity” is a top strategic initiative for 47 percent of the retailers it surveyed.

Consumers “pre-shop” for merchandise online before they ever enter a store, want one-day or even same-day delivery and expect “more” from their shopping experience—more personalization, a larger assortment, a more fulfilling experience and non-stop entertainment, BRP’s 2017 Merchandise Planning Survey noted.

“Customers use technology daily to enable and control their shopping journey,” said Gene Bornac, senior vice president at BRP. “Now it is up to retailers to play catch up with their organization, processes and technology to deliver the right products for the right price in the right place.”

The BRP survey explores the current state of retail planning in an effort to identify and understand retailers’ priorities. The survey found 58 percent of retailers currently have an integrated planning organization across channels and 64 percent of them have integrated their business planning processes across channels.

In addition, 33 percent of retailers have implemented new omnichannel demand planning systems within the past two years. Forty two percent incorporate real-time customer feedback into their in-season planning.

Read full article: Omnichannel Disconnect: Survey Shows Having a Strategy Doesn’t Always Result in Successful Execution

Kroger Doubles Down

Frozen and Refrigerated Buyer – America’s No. 1 grocer ups the ante with new ‘Restock’ initiative. Will its bet pay off? After watching quarterly comps fall for the first time since 2003 earlier this year, the leaders of the nation’s No. 1 supermarket chain, Cincinnati-based Kroger, knew they needed a new approach. But what they came up with sounds to some industry observers a lot like the old one, sparking com- plaints that the retailer is simply doubling down on existing bets. Nothing revolutionary there. Nothing new. Just a lot more of what the chain already does. In fact, a recent RetailWire discussion on the question of whether or not Kroger is in denial about the magnitude of its challenges — particularly the Amazon/e- commerce threat — yielded comments like “same old, same old,” “increased table stakes,” “the vision is missing” and “what retailer isn’t doing something like this?”

To be fair, though, even detractors have to admit that, as the largest collector of food purchase data in the United States, Kroger does what it does better than just about everyone else. “Doubling down on some- thing you already are the best at is actually a smart strategy,” says Ken Morris, principal at Boston-based Boston Retail Partners. “Kroger has been the leader in leveraging customer data and analytics to optimize assortments, space, pricing and promotions.” But that doesn’t mean it can’t be better, he continues, citing opportunities to use data in real-time rather than after customers leave the store — a shift that could give the chain a significant competitive advantage over other mainstream brick- and-mortar supermarkets.

While not everyone agrees that’s enough to guarantee success in an e-commerce world, most believe there will always be a place for physical stores — though perhaps not as many. If Kroger is able to build on its strengths, says Morris, it’s likely to not only survive the retail transformation but thrive.

Read full article: Kroger Doubles Down (page 30)

Holiday shoppers favor multichannel retailers

The Green Sheet – Early reports suggest merchants with both an online and brick-and-mortar presence attract more customers during the holiday shopping season. Analysts have seen a pre-shopping trend among consumers who research products online, then touch and buy in stores. Analysis published Dec. 4, 2017, by retail consultancy BRP, supports these observations. Gene Bornac, Senior Vice President at BRP, said technology has given customers more control of the shopping experience. “Now it is up to retailers to play catch up with their organization, processes and technology to deliver the right products for the right price in the right place,” he said.

Additional shopping data from BRP’s 2017 Merchandise Planning Benchmark Survey, found retailers updating their business models to accommodate tech-savvy shoppers. Following are some examples:

  • Integrated planning: 64 percent of retail respondents use integrated, cross-channel business planning mechanisms.
  • Advanced technology: 33 percent of retailers use omnichannel demand planning systems.
  • Real-time analytics: 42 percent of retailers use real-time customer feedback systems to react quickly to customer demands.

Read Full Article: Holiday shoppers favor multichannel retailers

BRP REPORT: Customer-led Demand is Driving Retailers to Transform their Business to be more Customer-centric

ERP Retail News – According to a new report from BRP, retailers must accommodate customers who “pre-shop” for merchandise online before they ever enter a store, want one-day or even same-day delivery, and expect “more” from their shopping experience – more personalization, a larger assortment, a more fulfilling experience and non-stop entertainment. Customer-led demand is driving retailers to transform their business to be more customer-centric.

“Customers use technology daily to enable and control their shopping journey,” said Gene Bornac, senior vice president at BRP. “Now it is up to retailers to play catch up with their organization, processes and technology to deliver the right products for the right price in the right place.”

For retailers, it is imperative to take a customer-centric viewpoint. To innovate the customer experience, they must transform their disparate systems, processes and organization into one cohesive environment with the ability to offer customers a seamless shopping environment across any channel and the capability to deliver merchandise immediately – wherever it is needed. It is time to prepare for the future of retail – it is here – whether we are ready or not.

Within this challenging environment, BRP conducted its 2017 Merchandise Planning Benchmark Survey to explore the current state of retail planning and to identify and understand retailers’ priorities as they strive to meet the needs and demands of today’s consumers.

Read Full Article: BRP REPORT: Customer-led Demand is Driving Retailers to Transform their Business to be more Customer-centric

Retailers intend to completely transform merchandising strategies: BRP

Luxury Daily – Due to a completely different customer journey of today, retailers are looking to transform their merchandising process, according to Boston Retail Partners.

The 2017 Merchandise Planning Survey shows that 47 percent of retailers are looking to customer-centricity as a top priority for their upcoming strategies. Customers are now beginning to “pre-shop” for products online before coming to a bricks-and-mortar location and are now looking for quick delivery.

“The key takeaway from this survey was that there is still a lot of work to be done to unify the organizations’ people, processes and technology to eliminate data and process silos,” said Gene Bornac, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “To innovate the customer experience, retailers must transform their disparate systems, processes and organization into one cohesive environment with the ability to offer customers a seamless shopping environment across any channel and the capability to deliver merchandise immediately – wherever it is needed.

“Another key takeaway is retailers huge desire to improve analytics, with 36 percent of retailers indicating ‘improve analytics’ was their top planning priority,” he said. “Analytics serve as an important tool in assisting retailers to find and interpret meaningful patterns in customer and inventory data to support decision-making.

“Insight into customer demand, price sensitivity, reaction to promotions, demographics and more are key to drive merchandise plans and actions that maximize profitability,” he said. “This is especially critical in an omni-channel environment, as understanding the preferences of disparate customer groups across different channels becomes more complicated.”

Read Full Article: Retailers intend to completely transform merchandising strategies: BRP

Report: More retailers move toward a customer-centric model

Food Dive – As demand for online shopping and a compelling in-store experience grows, retailers are making their business models more customer-centric. A new report by Boston Retail Partners (BRP) says to make this happen, grocers will need to integrate planning processes across channels, adopt new omni-channel demand planning systems and incorporate real-time customer feedback into their seasonal planning.

BRP’s 2017 Merchandise Planning Survey finds that almost half (47%) of retailers say that customer centricity is a key strategic initiative within their organizations. While nearly two-thirds (64%) of retailers have integrated their business planning processes across channels, just a third (33%) have implemented new omnichannel demand planning systems within the past two years. Only 42% of retailers incorporate real-time customer feedback into their in-season planning, according to the survey results.

“Customers use technology daily to enable and control their shopping journey,” Gene Bornac, senior vice president at BRP said in the report. “Now it is up to retailers to play catch up with their organization, processes and technology to deliver the right products for the right price in the right place.”

Read Full Article: Report: More retailers move toward a customer-centric model