Retailers Get Smart with BI in 2019

Chain Store Age – Business intelligence has moved from the latest new thing in retail technology to an integral component of industry solutions that are used across the enterprise. But the mainstreaming of BI has not stopped retailers and vendors from continuing to apply BI capabilities in new and groundbreaking ways in every aspect of retail operations. Chain Store Age spoke with three industry experts to find out how the most innovative retailers will be leveraging BI to obtain competitive advantage in the areas of demand planning and fulfillment, workforce management and in-store customer service.

By utilizing cloud-based, real-time BI analytics, Ken Morris, principal, BRP, retail consulting firm, advises that brick-and-mortar retailers can deliver a truly seamless customer experience.

“At store level, via the cloud retailers can use BI to understand customer context,” said Morris. “You can know who’s in front of you, what’s in their closet, what they look at online, and what people who are similar to them buy. If they frequently buy on sale, you might offer a shirt and tie combination at a discount to go with the suit they bought last month.” Morris termed this type of real-time omnichannel customer experience “headless commerce.”

“You have the same information across different user interfaces,” said Morris. “The same store planogram data you’re feeding an associate in real time to determine if they should offer a personalized discount can be used to direct a customer to find products they saw online via beacon notifications to their smartphone.”

On the back end, Morris said retailers can deploy BI solutions to perform store-level micro merchandising, based on current conditions and local shopper demographics. “You can quickly vary store assortment by weather and what’s happening in that location,” said Morris. “You can allocate by ethnicity, accounting for different demographic preferences in size, brand and color.

Every store is different and can be dynamically reallocated.” By combining the ability to tailor a customer’s in-store experience by individual shopping behavior, as well as by broader demographic and event-based factors, retailers can provide a truly omnichannel experience in the store.

“Retailers can offer an Amazon experience at store level in real time,” concluded Morris.

Read Full Article: Retailers Get Smart with BI in 2019

The Amazing Disappearing Checkout

Digital Transactions – Amazon’s tech-laden Go stores are disrupting in-store checkout. But as other merchants look to follow suit, it’s becoming clear there are lots of ways to get the checkout to check out.

Consumers so loathe waiting in line at checkout that half of all shoppers avoid entering stores with long lines, according to data from, a Web portal for retailers. Additionally, one-third of shoppers who enter a store will leave without buying if they think checkout will take longer than seven minutes.

That’s a lot of lost traffic and sales. To reduce friction and speed up service at checkout, retailers are looking at ways to marry more aspects of the e-commerce shopping experience to the physical point of sale.

“While Amazon can afford to spend that kind of money per location, most retailers can’t,” says Ken Morris, principal for BRP, retail consulting firm. “Self-service technology can be an expensive proposition for retailers, just look at in-store kiosks. But if the phone can be the gateway to a frictionless checkout environment, it’s worth a look, provided it can deliver the adoption levels needed to make it work.”

Read Full Article: The Amazing Disappearing Checkout

Consumers want a shared cart across channels

In BRP’s Consumer Study, 56% of consumers indicated that they were more likely to shop at a retailer that allowed them to have a shared cart across channels instead of a retailer that does not offer this service. Yet only 7% of retailers currently offer this shared cart concept – that’s a huge gap that retailers are struggling to bridge.

According to BRP’s SPECIAL REPORT: Real-Time Retail, customers want access to a single cart to shop across channels and be able to reach their cart via phone, computer, or even in the store – they want to “start anywhere and finish anywhere.”

As consumer expectations continue to rise, we have seen the importance of real-time visibility and access to product and customer information across channels grow significantly. With real-time inventory visibility and access across the enterprise, retailers can reduce or eliminate safety stock, which is a significant cost savings. Knowing where your products are in real-time also increases sales and minimizes markdowns.

Today’s retail model has to venture beyond omni-channel by breaking down the walls between internal channel silos and leveraging a common commerce platform with a single order management system to deliver a holistic, real-time, personal, seamless experience.

As consumers expect a seamless experience in the store, on the Web and via their mobile device – ‘real-time retail’ becomes the new industry imperative. In my experience, many retailers can check inventory in real-time but the data they are accessing is actually from yesterday, as the data is not really updated in real-time. This is ‘faux real-time retail’ based on the traditional store and forward architecture of legacy POS and e-commerce systems. As retailers move to unified commerce, full access to enterprise-wide data in real-time becomes more common as it is a necessity to survive.

This is ‘faux real-time retail’ based on the traditional legacy POS and e-commerce architecture where copies of master files are maintained at the store and updated on the headquarters’ system each night via transaction logs (TLOG). The enterprise master data records are essentially a day behind actual data.

Your customers are telling you what they want, are you listening?

I encourage you to download the full report to better understand the necessity of real-time retail to ensure you are meeting your customers’ expectations.


Only 7% of retailers offer a shared cart across channels

Retail Dive – Fifty-six percent of consumers said they likely would shop at retailers that offer a shared shopping cart across channels, but only 7% retailers offer that capability, according to a study by BRP, retail consulting firm, entitled, “Special Report: Real-Time Retail.”

The study also found that 87% of consumers desire personalized and consistent shopping experiences across all shopping channels, while 53% of retailers rank personalization as a top priority.

BRP research revealed that customers want to be able to shop seamlessly across all channels, including their mobile devices, computers and in-store, without a disruption in access.

Read full article: Only 7% of retailers offer a shared cart across channels

Unification Nation – Unified commerce transforming the retail customer experience

Canadian Retailer – Picture this: A customer walks through a retailer’s front door. They’ve come for a click-and-collect item they purchased on their laptop 24 hours earlier. Before they leave the store, they spend a few minutes browsing (simultaneously comparing prices on the ever-ubiquitous Amazon), and as they pass relevant items, the store’s smartphone app displays in-store deals that correspond to both their location, and their buying habits. They pick up a few more products—some of which they purchase, some they leave behind. At the checkout, they seamlessly combine a physical purchase with a digital purchase. As they make their way to the parking lot, their social media feed shows an ad for one of the items they left behind, along with a coupon for 15 per cent off, which, when clicked, allows them to purchase the item in the store’s mobile app—alongside other related items—and have these delivered to their home.

Quotes from Brian Brunk (pages 10-13):

“Customer expectations in retail are increasing, regardless of a retailer’s size,” adds Brian Bunk, Principal at BRP, retail consulting firm, “and to compete, winning retailers are adopting a unified commerce strategy. The benefits are numerous: improved customer experience, increasing expectations, simplified and agile technology, cross-channel inventory visibility and availability, flexible ordering and delivery options, personalization… And most of these benefits are becoming table stakes in today’s competitive retail market.”

It’s a lot to manage at once, Bunk admits—but it’s a feat made possible through the use of an accessible, cloud-based commerce platform. “The idea of a common, cloud-based, real-time commerce platform for all customer engagement points is a key tenet of unified commerce,” he says. “A unified commerce platform combines POS, mobile, web, order management, call centre and clienteling into one common integrated platform, which enables a holistic and seamless customer experience no matter how, when or where they shop with a retailer.”

And, Bunk adds, having the right technology in place can transform the customer experience even behind the scenes, through providing up-to-the moment inventory management, targeted recommendations based on data, and allowing for more nimble supply chains. “Unified commerce not only offers a unified view of customer and inventory data, but also offers retailers the ability to provide ‘endless aisle’ capabilities and the ability to ‘save the sale’ by selling merchandise from – or to – any channels,” he says. “Cross-channel inventory availability can reduce inventory management costs and enhance customer service by giving customers further purchasing options.”

And, as both Bunk and Hetu point out, a cohesive unified commerce strategy isn’t just for the big retailers. Not only will the large-scale changes required be simpler for small and mid-size businesses, but those same businesses could also run the greatest risk of being left behind. With consumer expectations constantly evolving, and retailers competing for ever-more elaborate ways of enhancing the customer experience, Bunk argues that the time for unified commerce is now.

“The store of the future will require a personal, mobile, relevant, ubiquitous and secure environment to meet rising customer expectations,” he explains. “Retailers need to operate in real-time, with customer and product information accessible across the enterprise—this necessitates cloud-based applications and a reliable, responsive network. Defining what you want your customer experience to be is key. Having the journey defined allows a retailer to deliver components of the journey based on business value and impact. Developing these components using modern technology and with a holistic view will allow the successful retailer of tomorrow to adapt as consumer expectations continue to evolve.”

Read Full Article: Unification Nation – Unified commerce transforming the retail customer experience

Who Controls Diners’ Data? OpenTable Moves to Assert Control

The Wall Street Journal – Some restaurateurs say booking service is trying to squeeze rival SevenRooms; OpenTable says it is protecting user privacy.

The value of diner data is rising as restaurant groups look to target customers with individualized products and services. OpenTable is barring restaurants from sharing data with rival booking services without its permission, intensifying a fight for control of the information diners disclose when they make reservations online. The table-booking service will block restaurants from giving competitors access to diner data acquired through OpenTable unless they pay new fees, according to its updated client agreement and a copy of a new pricing plan viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Data about diners is becoming increasingly valuable, as restaurant groups look to mine information about customers and their preferences to target them with individualized products and services. Chains are using the information to tweak menus, flag diners’ allergies and track spending patterns. “To do that level of personalization, that level of engagement, you need to know more,” said Scott Langdoc, who leads the restaurant consulting practice at BRP Consulting.

Read full article (subscription required): Who Controls Diners’ Data? OpenTable Moves to Assert Control

OpenTable Tightens Control Over Diners’ Data

PYMNTS – In a move that strengthens the battle for control of information that diners provide online, OpenTable is preventing restaurants from providing competitors with access to data from its platform. With the updated agreement, restaurant operators cannot access and copy data without the consent of the platform, The Wall Street Journal reported.

While some restauranteurs believe OpenTable “is trying to freeze out SevenRooms,” according to the paper, OpenTable’s Steve Hafner claims the move is an effort to protect the privacy of diners as well as the platform’s control of the information. “That information is absolutely not the restaurants’,” Hafner said, according to WSJ.
OpenTable is currently the largest platform for booking tables at restaurants in the U.S.

Diner information has taken on more value, as restaurant groups look to serve customers with personalized products and services. Chains, for instance, are tapping into data to take note of allergies, monitor spending patterns and adjust menus. Scott Langdoc, who heads up BRP’s restaurant consulting practice, told the paper, “To do that level of personalization, that level of engagement, you need to know more.”

Read Full Article: OpenTable Tightens Control Over Diners’ Data

Charting a course to omnichannel fulfillment

Retail Dive – To meet the demands of shoppers who expect to be able to buy in the channel of their choice and receive the merchandise wherever they prefer, retailers are unwinding their channel-specific supply chains and heading toward omnichannel fulfillment. Roughly half (48%) of retailers have implemented a single commerce platform, according to BRP (retail consulting firm) 2019 POS/Customer Engagement Survey, and an additional 46% plan to have one in place within three years.

However, retailers that claim omnichannel capabilities can be at very different places along a continuum. BRP’s 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey2 found that only 5% of retailers have achieved “shop anywhere/ship anywhere” unified commerce, while 53% reported some amount of omnichannel integration and more than one-quarter (28%) were still in the “multichannel” phase.

“Many retailers have taken the ‘just get something done’ approach over the last few years to attempt to deliver a cross-channel customer experience,” according to Ken Morris, principal, BRP. “The unfortunate result of this quick-fix approach is a ‘faux’ omnichannel model that doesn’t execute as promised and risks disappointing customers.”

Read Full Article: Charting a course to omnichannel fulfillment

Consumers Want A Single Shopping Cart For All Channels: Study

Media Post – Here’s a finding that could complicate the job of sending cart abandonment emails: Consumers now want access to a single cart across channels. That means they want to “start anywhere and finish anywhere,” from websites to stores, according to Real-Time Retail, a report by BRP, retail consulting firm.

Of the consumers polled, 56% are more likely to shop at a retailer that offers an omnichannel cart experience. But only 7% of retailers provide this. The question is pertinent because 82% of consumers have reviewed products online and purchased in a store. By contrast, 56% have shopped in-store and purchased online or via mobile.

But consumers may be challenged in doing so. Only 34% of retailers have implemented enterprise pricing/promotion features, and feel they are working well. Another 27% say they have them but see the need for improvement. And a mere 25% are upbeat about their cross-channel transaction history capabilities.

Read Full Article: Consumers Want A Single Shopping Cart For All Channels: Study

Customers Want Personalized Experience, One Cart Across Channels

Convenience Store Decisions – Customers want retailers to provide a personalized experience and a shared cart across all channels. Customers want access to a single cart to shop across channels and be able to reach their cart via phone, computer — and in-store. They want to be able to “start anywhere and finish anywhere.”

In a consumer study, BRP, a retail management consulting firm, found that 56% of consumer said they’re likely to choose a retailer who can offer a shared cart across channels. Only 7% of retailers have this function.

BRP also found that 87% of customers want a personalized and consistent experience across all shopping channels. But only 53% of retailers indicate that personalization of the customer experience is a top priority.

“Consumers expect a seamless experience in the store, on the Web and via their mobile device – which makes ‘real-time retail’ the new industry imperative,” said BRP Principal Ken Morris. “In our experience, many retailers can check inventory in real-time, but the data they are accessing is actually from yesterday, as the data is not really updated in real-time – it is faux real-time retail based on the store and forward architecture of legacy POS and e-commerce systems.”

Read Full Article: Customers Want Personalized Experience, One Cart Across Channels