It’s a tough time for retailers. The increases in the cost of living are beginning to take their toll. And faltering consumer confidence is forcing people to rethink household budgets and adjust their accounts.
Every once in a while, a story makes headlines to provide a breather from the seemingly endless wave of bad news. But overall, once-optimistic post-pandemic forecasts from retail analysts are being cut to reflect changing conditions.
However, retailers are a tough bunch. Adapting to the ebbs and flows of economic tides while meeting ever-changing customer demands while securing supply lines is in their DNA.
And while the economic news may not be rosy, retailers with long-term ambitions are simply not prepared to ride out the economic storm and hope for the best. I see many larger retailers investing in product development, suppliers, logistics, and more to make sure they have the products people want at a price they can afford.
The current economic uncertainty is the only certainty
Retailers have also turned to technology to help improve the retail experience, both in-store and behind the scenes of an online window. Whether it’s the introduction of virtual shopping assistants, click and collect, or same-day delivery, what ties them all together is data.
Speaking with senior executives at large retailers, we found that many have amassed big data in areas like customer behavior, spending patterns, supply chain, and inventory. The more data you have, the better you can respond to price fluctuations, supply chain constraints, and new entrants bringing the ability to shake up traditional industries overnight with their disruptive business models.
And yet, the problem is that many retailers simply can’t unlock the true value of all that data to help cut costs, ensure shelves are stocked, increase sales, and drive profitability. Simply accumulating vast amounts of information is of no use unless it can be easily accessed and quickly processed to deliver real business insights and dynamic customer experiences.
Data unlocks business insights
For example, Picnic is Europe’s fastest growing online supermarket, currently operating in the Netherlands, France and Germany, which relies heavily on data-driven decisions to offer the guaranteed lowest price to its customers.
Following a successful Series B funding round and tremendous growth of the company, he was looking for a better performing and more reliable data transmission platform, as well as improved transmission analytics capabilities.
By opting for an ecosystem of tools to get and receive data from data streams, Picnic has saved time and money by reducing operational overhead and enabling real-time processing. He found that he could easily scale event data, reduce infrastructure costs by 40%, and eliminate the data loss that is so critical to the core of his business. By future-proofing your architecture, you’re well on your way to unlocking the true value of your real-time data.
Boden, the British fashion retailer that sells primarily online, mail order and catalogue, has also made its data work harder after realizing that legacy IT systems from its original catalog-based business were struggling to keep up. keeping up with the company’s omnichannel, digital first. Getting closer.
Their self-built e-commerce platform, which had been used successfully for years, could no longer provide the real-time responsiveness the business needed. Instead, it opted for the introduction of a new set of core business systems to modernize essential processes such as order management, paving the way for the eventual shift from Boden’s catalog-based business model to online sales.
Crucially, instead of running batch reports overnight, real-time data processing gave the leadership team up-to-the-second visibility into what was happening online. And that’s important. A real-time view of inventory spanning stores and distribution centers means the management team can see the status of each order.
The constant stream of data means that consumers who visit their websites receive personalized clothing references and suggest alternative products if something is out of stock, matching precise delivery times.
The result is a vastly improved customer experience and business with a complete view of changing apparel demands while optimizing supply chain availability.
Retailers must not get lost in the data triangle
What unites both Picnic and Boden, and just about every other major retailer, are three key data points.
They want to know about your customersyour preferences and habits so that they can personalize your service.
With so much sales now online, retailers are increasingly focusing on the order management process, from the first click to the sale, delivery and even the return.
And, of course, they need a full view of your supply chain.
Although all three are essential to a successful retail operation, the supply chain woes of the past few years still haunt retailers. And it is the challenge of smoothing out disruptions to the free flow of global supply chains that is currently on the minds of CIOs.
A hangover from the global lockdown during the pandemic, supply chain bottlenecks (despite seeing some improvement in recent months) continue to plague the retail sector, causing headaches around availability and pricing. As work continues to address the three data points outlined, it is increasingly being done against a backdrop of economic uncertainty.
It’s definitely worth looking at how retailers adapt to business conditions over the next two years, and the role data plays in enabling them to operate more successfully. And as we approach what is often called the golden neighborhood of retailers, it is more important than ever for companies to use data to stand out from the crowd and accelerate their capabilities.