Retail AI & Predictive Analytics Blur The Lines Between Bricks And Clicks
Contributed By: Yan Krupnik, Director Business Development, Retalon.
In order to keep up with changing customer shopping behaviors, consumer trends, technology and competition, merchants are looking past the “e-commerce vs. brick-and-mortar” debate. Instead, retailers are focused on unifying processes and technology to build a consistent experience for their customers across all channels of their business.
Retailers from both sides of the spectrum have evolved their sales/marketing channels to introduce more options for consumers. Just in the past few years we’ve seen pure-play retailers expand to brick-and-mortar, while brick-and-mortar retailers find success with new customers/markets online. Amazon acquired almost 500 locations of Wholefoods and opened physical book stores. Companies like Microsoft followed Apple’s approach and opened retail stores in 5 countries. Montreal-based pure online fashion retailer Frank & Oak opens brick-and-mortar stores, meanwhile Bebe closed all their physical locations to focus on the success they see online & on social media.
Retailers have a wide range of options when it comes to connecting their brand with shoppers, such as: Online stores, social media, mobile apps, physical stores, kiosks, and 3rd party marketplaces. Just as any successful retailer needs to identify the optimal assortment mix for their customers, in today’s market, merchants must find the optimal balance between sales/marketing channels that makes sense for their customers’ journey.
Maintaining Consistent Omni-Channel Customer Experience is Key!
Regardless of the type of retail business, customer demographic, and product type, most companies will have to interact with customers across many channels and platforms at the same time. The challenge is to maintain a consistent customer experience across all stages of the relationship. From brand discovery, to product reviews and price comparison, purchasing, and fulfillment. Merchants want to have the ability to offer omni-channel visibility such as seeing localized inventory across all platforms, and smart fulfillment options such as ship-from-store, and pick-up-in-store. However, this can come with a hefty cost if your forecast isn’t accurate and your inventory is not proactively at the right place.
AI & Predictive Analytics for Retailers
The good news is that there are some great tools available to help Retailers stay ahead of the competition, and boost sales while reducing their cost. Retail Predictive Analytics and AI solutions that are specifically designed for medium to large businesses are seeing a lot more interest and traction from growing retailers. These kinds of solutions solve many complex questions that are critical for merchants to do the work such as:
- What channels are performing? What items are performing?
- How to deal with new products, seasonal events, dynamic life cycles?
- How to stay competitive in pricing?
- What are optimal promo media types? Types of promos?
- How much inventory to bring, where and when?
No matter what combination of sales/marketing channels your retail business operates, in order to scale, increase sales, and lower costs companies will need to optimize key processes such as forecasting, assortment planning, inventory management, price management, markdowns and promotions.
Rather than integrating half a dozen different software and solutions, these solutions should be based on one unified platform, based of the same dataset, demand forecast, and database. By having these solutions working in unison, retailers see ground-breaking results such as a significant reduction of inventory costs (between 25 – 40%), a healthy boost in sales (10 – 25%), as well as a much more accurate demand forecast, and better visibility into your business, products and categories.
By having a better understanding of shopping patterns across your entire business and having the tools to anticipate demand, merchants are now empowered to offer a better, more personalized product mix while keeping costs down by only purchasing the inventory they will truly need and intelligently allocating for smart fulfilment. At the end of the day, out of stocks turn into lost sales and lost customers. Stay ahead of the consumer with retail predictive analytics.
Yan Krupnik is the Director of Business Development at Retalon, an award-winning provider of retail predictive analytics solutions for planning, inventory management, merchandising, pricing, and promotions. Retalon’s solutions are built on one unified platform to account for all factors influencing your business. Learn more at Retalon.