Author Archive

Manthan Editorial Desk

The Editorial Board comprises technologists, data experts, thought leaders and marketing gurus. We are dedicated in helping business leaders unlock the true potential of analytics.

This year at the NRF Retail Big Show 2019, Manthan will be showcasing Algorithmic Customer Experience

This year at the NRF Retail Big Show 2020, Manthan will be showcasing Algorithmic Customer Experience.
Delivering enriched customer experiences for every digital interaction is a top priority for retailers in 2020. Manthan provides all the building blocks powered by AI that can collectively help you delight customers and send your sales soaring.
And if that’s reason enough, take a look at the following infographic to see who else is likely to be at the NRF Big Show.

What do Retailers expect from NRF 2020?

It’s that time of year again!

Retailers around the world are preparing for the NRF Retail Big Show 2020, and once again Manthan speaks to several retail influencers to find out what they are excited about seeing.

This year, Manthan will be talking about Algorithmic Customer Experience at Booth #5747 .

But you’ll love to know that our friends and retail experts are looking forward to everything from sustainability to the snacks being served in the press room!

MANTHAN ASKED: “What big retail idea do you hope to see at NRF RETAIL’S BIG SHOW 2020?”
 

“Here we are at 2020, that enchanted perfect vision year that many prognosticated would deliver the future of retail. At the NRF Big Show, expect to see a focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and enablement of exceptional shopping experiences.

I want to see more retailer brands at the core of innovation demonstrations. Greater focus on technology-enabled consumers/store associates as brand ambassadors. Continued innovation around my current three focus areas: AI applied to video, GPS inside stores, and facial recognition.

At the crossroads of new technology platforms and next-generation consumers, continuously expanding ‘retail renaissance’ shopping opportunities will emerge.”

Tony D’Onofrio

CEO of TD Insights LLC @tonycdonofrio

“Digital transformation and the store of the future are impossible without advanced data networks. Fortunately, broadband is evolving and the rollout of game-changing 5G will support next-generation retail services and in-store innovations.

Look for 5G, SD-WAN, 4G LTE and Gigabyte Class LTE networks to be prominently featured at NRF20.”

Joe Skorupa

Editorial Director, RIS News @joeskorupa

“I’m looking forward to a fully functioning Jacob Havits Convention Center but as that won’t be the case, I’ll settle for a healthy dose of retail excitement, topped off with a rather fine accompaniment of retail relevance, pizzazz, and downright awesome retail inspiration.”

Andrew Busby

Retail Analyst & Keynote Speaker @andrewbusby

“I believe at NRF 2020, attendees will see a stronger focus on how sustainable actions are influencing every touchpoint of retail operations. From logistics to inventory management to packaging to customer marketing and more, I believe social good and sustainability, in general, will be a core conversation at NRF 2020.

Additionally, I think that retailers can expect to see more ways in which technology can bring clarity to their operational efforts, connectivity to their customer goals and conversion to their sales.”

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle

Retail Minded, Founder& Publisher Independent Retailer Conference, Co-Founder @RetailMinded

“Have retailers finally returned to the need to train their employees to create a branded shopping experience or are they still chasing ways to give more discounts and coupons?”

Bob Phibbs

www.RetailDoc.com @theretaildoctor

“For 2020, I am looking forward to seeing where personalization can go. We are still just scratching the surface with knowing consumers on an individual level, especially as they interact and shop across channels.

I expect to see more robust opportunities not only for data capture but for analysis and more advance outputs.”

Melissa Gonzalez

Award-winning Retail Strategist @MelsStyles

“The gap between traditional retail stores & consumer behavior has never been so enormous. Consumers are shifting behavior to invest time & money in more meaningful experiences, so I expect NRF20 to showcase technologies, design and other tools that enable retailers to respond to consumers’ shift from procurement to engagement.”

Diane J. Brisebois

President & CEO, Retail Council of Canada @LoveRetail

“Two years ago voice was the big thing and last year it was visual analytics taking the limelight so I wonder which of these two will come to the fore in 2020 – or maybe it will be something else.

I hope we will see a little less of artificial intelligence as a lot of the 2019 solutions were rather artificial in an intelligence sense. And I also look forward to the diverse, and plain odd, range of US snack products available in the press room.”

Glynn Davis

Editor, Retail Insider @glynndavis

“Two things in service of each other: further evidence of the growth of shopping as experience, more reasons to visit; and I’d like to see more momentum behind the race to find much better analytics to identify what experience really means to customers, contextual to their shopping missions.”

Richard Hammond

Author of Friction/Reward @theseretaildays

From futuristic technology to the latest visionary business cases, NRF 2020 brings together a platform for the industry to showcase what could be. To get a sneak peek of how you could offer your customers an enhanced retail experience through algorithmic programming, visit www.manthan.com/nrf

We hope to see you there!

20 technologies impacting restaurants today

According to the Deloitte Restaurant of the Future Survey, restaurant technology is helping QSRs drive conversions and build customer loyalty.
 
Step into any fast food or quick service restaurant today, and you’ll find technology has impacted everything from ordering to marketing to operations. Aggressive expansion and competition is now pushing the use of technology in this industry even further.
 
This infographic takes a broad look at all the areas technology is having an impact on restaurants today.
Restaurant Marketing

5 Mobile Marketing Tactics Your Restaurant Must Deploy This Quarter

According to reports, orders placed via smartphones and mobile apps will become a $38 billion industry and makeup nearly 11% of all quick-service restaurant sales by 2020. In 2016, a Nielsen study showed us that millennials are the largest group of smartphone users, as well as the generation that dines out most frequently. In addition to this, the past few years have seen users of all ages become increasingly comfortable with app-based purchases. In fact, according to research from App Annie, global consumers ordered meals on mobile 130% more in 2018 than in 2016, and worldwide downloads of the top five delivery apps grew 115% during the same period. It’s no surprise then that many restaurant businesses are eager to explore the various ways they can leverage this booming trend to impact their business.   Let’s see some of the ways this can be done:

Activate users in real-time to drive sales

Advanced analytical solutions can help proactive marketing managers automate their marketing campaigns to nudge users who added items to their cart but didn’t transact. By utilizing abandonment marketing techniques in real-time, such as timely in-app support restaurateurs can help improve conversions on mobile apps. Taco Bell’s mobile ordering successes are partially attributed to in-app suggestions to guests to create their desired meals, a tactic which many believe is paramount to combatting mobile shopping cart abandonment.  

Customer microsegment-based promotions

Using the right analytics, marketing teams can micro-segment customers based on time of transactions and order preferences. This gives the campaign manager pinpoint control over promotional messages to any segment resulting in improved conversions. For example, health-conscious users can be targeted with low-calorie multi-grain pizzas during their app sessions.  

Location-based targeting to drive customers

App-driven location data can be used to trigger push notifications to customers based on their city locations along with information on their last purchased items or favorite combos. Innovative restaurants can leverage location-based targeting creatively to acquire new customers. One such campaign run by Burger King targeted customers within 600-feet of a McDonald’s to unlock a Whopper for 1 cent through its app in December 2018!  

Up-sell campaigns to maximize customer value

Cross-selling and upselling can help maximize mobile app purchases, by acting on customer purchase data and responding at the most opportune time. Advanced analytics coupled with marketing automation can provide marketing teams with the ability to deliver rich mobile notifications for upgrades, and add-ons based on customer preferences prior to check-out. Starbucks entices customers using the app to try out new offerings or upsize their order, with a scrollable news feed that highlights drinks and food with eye-catching images.  

Time and event-based personalization

By knowing the customers’ preferred time of dining, offering push notifications with deep links can help drive purchases. Advanced analytics can help leverage this customer insight to understand peak times and customer drivers, into to drive sales with timely messages.  

The Mobile Restaurant Future

According to DMI research, the mobile activities most desired by diners include viewing menus, finding the closest locations and placing orders. Restaurants which have the right tools in place can, therefore, leverage the power of mobile technology to increase conversions, build loyalty and improve their market share.
Analytics changing restaurant business

10 Ways Analytics is Changing Restaurant Business

Restaurant owners are sitting on a ton of data – from employee information to mobile apps, supply chain logistics to touchscreen kiosks, e-commerce numbers to social media reviews. BCG reports that four out of five restaurant brands can access a wealth of data from multiple sources, however, only one in five is using that data comprehensively.

If you’re in the restaurant business, you’ve probably already heard a lot about how restaurant analytics can help bring in more customers. But are you aware of the operational, and predictive ways in which analytics can impact other areas of your business?

 
  1. Sales: With advanced restaurant business analytics software you can uncover key insights on the performance of stores and products, the productivity of resources, and sales category performance – all in real-time. If sales are down during the first part of a Saturday, knowing that dip can help you send out offers to improve the day’s performance immediately – as opposed to seeing the report on Monday afternoon when it’s too late.
  2. Operations: A direct impact on your business is the operational efficiency. Use data analytics for restaurant to see how you’re doing on key operational metrics such as delivery time, cook time, wait time, store efficiencies, labor, and more. Know the performance of franchise owners by region and/or store.
  3. Menu: You may already know which menu items are selling the best or doing the worst. But advanced restaurant software can also give you insights into deeper questions such as which products sell well together, what are the top customer choices by demography, how historical sales patterns will impact transaction value and much more.
  4. Location: Can data analytics for restaurant help you find the best place to open a new store? Yes, it can! Analyze the potential of a new store location, using location and guest demographics to postulate footfalls and potential sales. Compare and choose the best site for your restaurant with comprehensive data sets that translate into high demand.
  5. Mobile App: Improve engagement on your mobile app through in-depth analytical understanding. Know when, where, and how customers use your app in order to engage them with contextual messages in real-time. Encourage mobile app orders based on location, current order, cart components and the guests’ historical relationship with your brand.
  6. Customer Satisfaction: Advanced restaurant analytics software should be able to give a view of customer satisfaction by channel and store, allowing deep dive analysis of how Net Promoters Score (NPS) impacts store performance. Using analytics, you can, therefore, identify both broad (across-store) and narrow (within a store) reasons for dissatisfaction down to each guest level.
  7. E-Commerce: Analytics enables a finer understanding of online customer purchase behavior, a source of traffic, traffic conversion, preferred offers, typical order size and more. Using this information, you can then influence customers as they place orders by recommending relevant products they might like and minimizing abandonment with timely intervention.
  8. Marketing: Restaurant Software enables clarity into campaign performance and its impact on sales. By harnessing customer data from various source systems, you’ll be able to understand your campaign performance from the guests’ context, and deliver personalized 1-1 campaigns on channels they prefer: during the best daypart, on a day they are likely to respond; all using automated marketing.
  9. Personalizing: Your frequent guests and your at-risk customers are those with the biggest impact on your bottom line. Analytical behavioral clustering, propensity models and churn prediction algorithms can help you uncover customer opportunities and risks. You can dynamically segment customers on multiple dimensions such as day-part, order value, visit frequency, price sensitivity, taste, occasion preferences and more. By knowing the micro-segment each customer belongs to, you can tailor your messages with specific promotions, reduce churn and give loyal customers more reasons to return.
  10. Compliance: Maintaining brand, safety, and employee training standards across equity and franchise stores is critical. Advanced analytics can help ensure operations and food safety compliance, monitor status of employee training, identify talent and understand the impact of employee performance on store performance.
   

Go Beyond Reporting

The sophistication of analytics has now evolved beyond mere day-to day-reports. By bringing together disparate systems, and applying the right advanced analytics solution you’ll be able to uncover the hidden meaning behind all that data. A savvy restaurant entrepreneur can leverage these analytics to make better decisions regarding operations, campaigns, customers, and strategy, to outthink the competition.

NRF 2019: Which Retail Experts found what they were looking for?

The NRF Retail Big Show 2019 is over! But what did visitors think? We went back for a quick chat with our retail influencers to see if they found what they were looking for at NRF 2019.
Here’s what each of the retail experts had to say:

MANTHAN: You were looking forward to hearing new ways retailers are dealing with 70% cart abandonment online. Did you find what you were looking for?

Bob Phibbs

Bob Phibbs (@theretaildoctor)

www.RetailDoc.com

BOB: No, oddly enough I didn’t. What I did see is most of the vendors were either trying to peddle Amazon Go-style walk-in by registering, swiping or being scanned and leaving without cashiers. The encouraging thing was I discovered several exhibitors finding ways to bring real-time data from the C-level down to actionable insights on the salesfloor most notably with Mystore-E. I did a LinkedIn interview on my profile page of the founder as well.

MANTHAN: You were looking for a big idea in the form of the consumer genome. Did NRF 2019 have what you were looking for?

Joseph Skorupa

Joseph Skorupa(@joeskorupa)

Editorial Director, RIS News

JOE: I found a large number of vendors and some NRF sessions focusing on personalized marketing campaigns and many of these were aimed at in-store engagements, but without a deep consumer genome many of these efforts will produce disappointing results.

MANTHAN: You were looking for the ways in which pioneering companies are designing and measuring their physical spaces and retail customer experiences in new and dynamic ways. What did you find?

Doug Stephens

Doug Stephens (@RetailProphet)

retailprophet.com

DOUG: There was some discussion at NRF regarding the need for new physical retail metrics for success. However, I would have liked to have seen more meaningful discussion about the changing purpose of physical stores as a distribution channel for unique experiences and how to measure and attribute a media value to those experiences. This, in my opinion, is essential for retailers to understand and embrace.

MANTHAN: You were looking for the store of the future. Did you find what you were looking for?

Andrew Busby

Andrew Busby (@andrewbusby)

Retail Analyst & Keynote Speaker

ANDREW: With regards to the store of the future; whilst I didn’t see it as such, plenty was discussed regarding the characteristics it needs to display. What came across most strongly at NRF this year is that physical retail is rapidly evolving into more of a media-driven experiential concept. Retail is fast becoming far more than a sales first environment; it is rapidly morphing into an extension of our lives. Hyper-personalisation will become the norm by the end of 2019, fulfillment will be anywhere within the hour and we will enter the era of predictive retail where brands know all there is to know about us and act accordingly; responsibly, in context and always 100% relevant.

MANTHAN: You were expecting to see a lot of action within the payments category. How did it go at NRF2019?

Nicole Reyhle

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle (@RetailMinded)

Retail Minded, Founder& Publisher, Independent Retailer Conference, Co-Founder

NICOLE: Payments are changing the entire ecosystem of how customers shop. For many customers, how they can pay becomes the driver of where they will shop. A great example of this is with AfterPay, which an interest-free installment payment option that has customers around the globe excited to make purchases with payments of four installments without the burdens that credit cards may carry. Retailers such as Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and more have welcomed this into their payment strategies and as a result, welcomed more profit. While there were a lot of innovative and exciting categories to explore at NRF, payments definitely caught my attention because I truly believe it is re-shaping how customers will make their future purchasing decisions. When you factor in the actual transaction process of payments, it’s becoming increasingly clear that frictionless and secure is the way of the future in payments, as well… finally.

MANTHAN: You were looking for companies that are using technology to offer increased personalized branding and immersive retail customer experiences. Did you find what you were looking for?

tony donofrio

Tony D’Onofrio (@tonycdonofrio)

CEO of TD Insights LLC

TONY: First impression was that this NRF did not move the innovation needle forward. But was pleasantly surprised to identify 15 trends, some or all I will write about in an upcoming blog. Heard one outstanding summary on the state of the industry and in my view only two vendor exhibits effectively delivered a differentiated message. Yes, progress in building personalized customer experiences analytics but on multiple levels, consumers are still outpacing both retailers and technologists in shaping their own branding preference journey.

MANTHAN: You were looking for solutions that helped retailers with sustainability. Did you find anything interesting?

Caroline Baldwin

Caroline Baldwin (@cl_baldwin)

Editor – Essential Retail

CAROLINE: Sadly not. I was very disappointed to see a distinct lack of retail solutions to aid retailers in becoming more sustainable at NRF 2018 – and I didn’t even hear the topic being discussed once in the many conference sessions I attended. Even on Essential Retail’s NYC Store Tour we didn’t see any retailers pushing sustainability as a message to shoppers. Meanwhile, on my short walk to work in London this morning I saw Paperchase shouting about its new sustainable stationary range in its shop window and of course M&S launched the trial of its plastic-free fruit and veg aisles this week. Clearly UK retailers are responding to customer’s concerns about sustainability.

MANTHAN: You were looking for innovative e-commerce and brick-and-mortar solutions in marketing and personalization. Did you find what you were looking for?

Diane Brisebois

Diane J. Brisebois (@LoveRetail)

President& CEO, Retail Council of Canada

DIANE: I did see many solutions and was impressed with the amount of attention paid to the integration of technologies and retail channels to increase efficiencies and minimize the friction that currently exists when customers shop in retailers’ different selling channels.

MANTHAN: You were looking for ideas to empower retail store associates. Did you find any?

Debbie Hauss

Debbie Hauss (@dhauss)

Editor-in-Chief, Retail TouchPoints

DEBBIE: I was delighted to see that retailers and solution providers are realizing the importance of empowering store associates to be better brand advocates. In fact, Retail TouchPoints recognized Brooks Brothers with a Customer Engagement Award, in a video presentation during NRF19, for its work with Mad Mobile to implement a new Concierge App. Now store associates can easily access individual customers’ profiles and preferences in order to help them select the right products.

MANTHAN:You were looking for more applications of augmented reality outside of beauty. What did you find?

Melissa gonzalez

Melissa Gonzalez (@MelsStyles)

Award winning retail strategist

MELISSA: For Augmented Reality I did see a more expansive application.  On the B2B side for store planogram, allowing companies to more fluidly plan alternative floor layouts and on the CPG side such as offerings from AR company Zappar who are doing inventive experiential marketing activations with brands under the Unilever and Kimberly Clark umbrellas.

MANTHAN: You were looking for technology companies that could leverage customer and transaction data for meaningful marketing. How did it go?

cathy_hotka

Cathy Hotka (@cathyhotka)

Cathy Hotka& Associates, LLC

CATHY: I heard very clearly from retailers at the show that, without a data strategy, they won’t have an effective modern retailing strategy. Many don’t think they’re there yet, but the synergy between the vendor community and the needs of retailers has never been stronger.

MANTHAN: You expected to see major solutions around customer engagement and retail customer experience. Did you find what you were looking for?

greg buzek

Greg Buzek (@gregbuzek)

President – IHL Group, Advisory Board – Retail Orphan Initiative

GREG: I did see a lot of ideas around frictionless shopping and concepts around marrying the offline and online experience but in most cases, these were pilot projects or at skunkworks. There was a lot more around AI/ML that was behind the scenes being discussed. I think one solution that I saw was from Doddle, which was a return kiosk for online purchases. These could be as prevalent as Coinstar type kiosks at local grocery stores, but solves real issues of online returns for both merchants and consumers. It’s a win/win/win. The online retailer has more locations for returns, the consumer has an easy way to return without having to repackage everything, and the merchant that houses the kiosk gets more traffic to their stores. That solves real customer issues.

One thing that was obvious is that many of the practical, ready to go solutions, had a UK development component to it. The UK is way ahead of the US in Click and Collect, and there were several solutions with that flavor.

What I didn’t see is the focus on the practical problem of inventory accuracy. All too often retailers invest in the new shiny technologies before tackling the core issues that drive consumers crazy. Amazon Prime has changed shopping. With 55% of all households having Amazon Prime and 70% of households with incomes over $100,000, the first question consumers ask is “Do I need it now or can I wait two days?” If they need it now, they go to stores… why? Because they need it now. And all too often consumers are finding lots of kiosks and ipads and beacons, but the stores are out of stock of what the customer wants to buy. Offering to ship it free doesn’t help the customer who needs it now. So this akin to having the really fast wide receiver in football to go deep, but not having a good offensive line to protect the quarterback long enough to throw the ball. Retailers must fix their inventory accuracy issues. Without that, none of the other things matter.

INTERVIEW: Grocery Retailers Poised to Reap Benefits of AI

We’re here at NRF 2019! And Manthan has taken the time to catch up with other NRF and retail experts. We spoke with Randy Crimmins, EVP/Chief Strategy Officer at Relationship (formerly GoThink!) to understand his expectations in omnichannel marketing, retail technology innovations and the AI-driven future of retail grocery store chains.

MANTHAN: What innovation are you most looking forward to seeing at NRF 2019?

RANDY: For me, it’s all about the connected shopper. I’m interested to see what tangible progress companies are making in terms of creating a truly connected, personalized retail customer experience without and within the store.

What advancements are being made to help retailers 1) truly understand their customers holistically and 2) leverage that understanding to relevantly and personally engage with each of them throughout the shopper journey, online and instore?

MANTHAN: What does the ‘store of the future’ or ‘the intelligent store’ mean to you?

RANDY: I go back to the connected shopper. The intelligent store furthers the connected experience bridging the shopper journey and digital engagement from outside to inside the store.

For example, I receive a welcome message via push notification when I walk in the store that alerts me to personalized marketing deals available for that visit. These offers are automatically added to my digital shopping list and highlighted on my digital aisle map in my mobile app so I can easily locate them. When I check out, my account is recognized as being a top customer, which automatically notifies the front end or store manager on her app, who casually stops by to personally thank me for shopping and make sure I found everything I was looking for that day.

The connected shopper experience leverages integrated retailer systems, customer data, the utility of the mobile app, location services and omni-channel engagement—essentially leveraging high-tech for high touch inside the store. That’s the future and it’s here now.

MANTHAN: What would you say are the top three things grocery retailers need to focus on in 2019, to compete profitably?

RANDY: 1. Infrastructure 2. Infrastructure 3. Infrastructure. Focus on creating the right infrastructure, integration, and processes needed to create highly personalized, relevant connections with your customers online and in-store. Too many retailers are reaching first for the bright shiny objects, without fully understanding the infrastructure needed, or the vision and planning required to deliver the kind of connected customer experience that shoppers are going to demand. Retailers end up with disparate systems and cobbled together processes that don’t integrate, communicate or scale.

Walk around NRF… incredible applications, technology, and solutions everywhere screaming their features. As a retailer, you have to step back, define your vision, create a plan and focus on creating the right data, digital infrastructure and enabling technologies necessary to serve you and your customer’s long term. Digital investment is not a marketing line item—it is as important of an investment as those routinely made for software and hardware in other areas of your business. Change the mindset.

Retailers are challenged to create connected customer experiences that leverage all channels.”

MANTHAN: What are the top omnichannel marketing challenges that retail grocery store chains are still trying to overcome?

RANDY: Retailers are challenged to create connected customer experiences that leverage all channels, and more importantly each shopper’s “channel of choice.” Retailers are also challenged by data integrity and a singular understanding of a customer — “one version of the truth”. Customer account data and integrity is a fundamental and critical component to successful omnichannel engagement.

On the back-side retailers struggle with understanding performance attribution. What/why/how do customers respond to offers, engage with the retailer online and in-store—what device, which campaign, promotion and offer, and taking it further, what was the associated ROI, or incremental gain at a customer level. These are mission critical aspects of being an effective omnichannel marketer, yet the majority of retailers don’t have a clear or complete picture of their efforts or results.

MANTHAN: What recent technological innovation have you seen significantly impact retail marketing?

RANDY: Big Data and machine learning have disruptive potential in retail marketing. Take for example the process that every grocer does of creating the weekly flyer. The majority of supermarket chains today probably still build their ad based on spreadsheets and historical patterns, just like they have for the past 30 years. It is an incredibly labor-intensive process, probably occupying 30-40% of the merchandising and advertising teams’ time each week. Big Data and AI could transform this process to streamline the workflow, as well as recommend the items that should go into the flyer based on localized customer data, historical purchase behavior, seasonality, trending, inventory levels, even weather-related data. There’s no reason why using AI a retailer could not automatically build the weekly flyer without any manual intervention.

You can also take this “intelligent” flyer concept further online, by taking all the advertised items for that week and presenting them to each shopper in a personally curated form. A truly personalized marketing solutions for every customer, every week.

We are doing this today and seeing significant gains in terms of engagement, incremental activity, and ROI. You roll it all up and the total efficiency and effectiveness gain potential are huge, and that’s just one marketing vehicle.

“If any industry is poised to reap the benefits of AI for marketing, it has got to be grocery.”

MANTHAN: AI promises to make data-driven processes more intelligent. Which retail segment do you foresee experiencing the biggest impact?

RANDY: AI and Big Data are beginning to transform retail marketing. Of all the retail verticals, grocery has typically been a laggard from a data sophistication and technology standpoint. The irony is that supermarkets typically have the most data and transactional volume, pioneered the capture of individual data via loyalty programs, and yet they lag other industries in their ability to leverage all this customer information for the betterment of their business.

If any industry is poised to reap the benefits of AI for marketing, it has got to be grocery. There is so much upside. The one example above with the weekly flyer could be connected to the inventory system for automatic ordering/replenishment.

In fact, we are seeing AI being used by forward thinking companies like Manthan to manage inventory, minimize shrink, optimize assortment and promotional performance. Disruption is coming to grocery and it will be led by big data and AI.

MANTHAN: Thank you, Randy!

Interview with Kirk Borne | Big Data Hype? The Worst is Behind Us

Big Data Analytics & Data Scientist. Global Speaker. Astrophysicist. Space Scientist. And in addition to all those hats, Dr. Kirk Borne is the Principal Data Scientist and Executive Advisor at Booz Allen Hamilton, and a globally acknowledged influencer since 2013. This week Manthan talked to Kirk to delve into his thoughts on big data analytics solutions for data driven discovery and decision support, and innovating using data science.

MANTHAN: Your personal journey in the field of big data analytics is an exciting one to read . What is the biggest surprise you’ve experienced in this rapidly growing, data driven world? 

KIRK: The biggest surprise that I have experienced is how incredibly rapidly the world has woken up to and adopted the power of data and the power of algorithms. I worked in this field for many years and it was hard to get anyone to take it seriously 10-15 years ago. But in the past 5 years, the field has exploded, including startups, new businesses, new lines of business in old organizations, data science advocates in all types of organizations, the number of use cases across all sectors, and the demand for data scientists and data scientist training programs.

The growth of interest, applications, tools, startups, and people working in this field almost seems to be *faster* than exponential.

MANTHAN: You’ve shared an example in our round-up on the impact big dataanalytics has made on society. Could you give us an example of how analysis of big data has helped improve a business situation?

KIRK: A very large financial services company (we’ll call it ABC) was concerned about customer attrition. Whenever a customer took their investments to another business, ABC lost money. So, ABC decided to explore their customer engagement data to see if they could find a precursor signal in the data that indicated when a customer was perhaps likely to take their investments out and move their funds to another business.

ABC invested approximately one million dollars in a “proof of concept” project to search the data and build a model of customer attrition. They did find a signal in the data, which was simply the sudden increase in the frequency of customer logins to their online account in the month prior to withdrawing their investments. So, ABC deployed a friendly customer engagement program in which they reached out to those customers whose monthly login frequency suddenly increased — ABC sent information about a new online investment calculator, investment performance metrics, new investment strategies, updated FAQs, financial management advice, tools to simplify reinvesting in their other financial service products, etc. At the end of the 3-month “proof of concept” test period, ABC estimated that their one million dollar data science investment had saved the company one billion dollars in customer value!

That was an ROI of $1000 for every $1 investment in their program. So, the company decided to invest in a much larger permanent data science team for greater customer engagement and marketing insights.

“The growth of interest, applications, tools, startups, and people working in this field almost seems to be *faster* than exponential.”

MANTHAN: As the Principal Data Scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton, how do you feel perceptions have changed (for good or bad) towards big data analytics solutions?

KIRK: I believe that the worst of the “big data” hype is now behind us. A lot of growth in the data science and big data analytics fields has already taken place in the past few years, despite all of the negative hype. Now, with the hype being diminished, we are settling down to greater growth, investment, innovation, and value creation in the field. So, the perceptions are definitely changed for the good!

MANTHAN: What recent problem have you helped solve by applying a data driven scientific solution?

KIRK: I cannot discuss client-specific problems and solutions, but one case that we are developing for a future potential client is around a fairly well known and common problem in the field of talent analytics: using data and modeling techniques to predict employee performance, job satisfaction, and possible attrition.

We considered an ensemble of different predictive modeling techniques that gave greater insights into the problem than a single model approach, with most of our focus is on the employee attrition problem (which is much like the customer attrition problem mentioned above): what are the key signals in the data that might indicate when such an outcome is likely to occur?

“I believe that the worst of the “big data” hype is now behind us.”

MANTHAN: What do you imagine the future will be like when we have greater computing capabilities to fully harness the potential of our big data?

KIRK: There are 3 essential contributors to big data analytics solutions and data science success, and why big data science is so popular these days, are these:

  • larger and more comprehensive data sets.
  • more efficient and effective algorithms.
  • faster more powerful computing capabilities.

As computing capabilities increase, then similarly will our abilities increase to explore even greater dimensions and combinations of dimensions of much larger data sets.

The insights to be gained will continue to grow in proportion to the computing power that we can apply to the problem. The combinatorial explosion of different combinations of diverse data sets to be explored will become even more enormous as the Internet of Things grows in diversity and ubiquity. The discovery potential from all of these new acquired data will be lost unless we also acquire greater computing capabilities.

So, I expect that the 3 essential contributors to big data science success will continue for a long time to come!

MANTHAN: Thank you, Kirk!

Predictive Analytics – A Necessity for Retailers: Interview with Mindtree

In anticipation of NRF 2019 next week, Manthan caught up with the retail experts from Mindtree; Vinaysheel Palat Global Head of Consulting for Retail, CPG and Manufacturing and Ronojoy Guha, a specialist in predictive analytics platform for Merchandising, Stores and Supply Chain logistics; to talk about technology, predictive analytics platform and the future of retail.

MANTHAN: What does the ‘store of future’ or ‘intelligent store’ mean to you?

VIN & RONO: Future stores would become experience centers rather than just market places, a destination providing multiple services to customers, like dining, dry cleaning, and shipping. A one-stop shop for all needs.

The store sizes are likely to shrink as they look to bring in granular clustering based on the demography of the location. E.g., currently grocery stores use much space on bulk goods, these would be shrunk and taken to the backroom and fulfilled on orders. While their backroom stores would become distribution centers for their online orders, bringing in true omni channel, not just from a consumer standpoint, but from a supply-chain as well.

Technology play will be much higher, there would be more cashless and card-less transactions, curb-side pickup, etc. We will see more differentiation in store formats catering to local demography. Customer segmentation would be used to tweak experience.

Grocery store experience centers would be different compared from downtown to suburbs. The store itself would have a personality and how it will have a conversation with its shoppers would differ. E.g., Suburbs with young families would perhaps have centers where recipes with organic food are cooked. A fast-moving store in downtown would focus on information.

MANTHAN: What would you say are the top three things retail stores need to focus on in 2019, to compete profitably?

VIN & RONO: The most significant would be personalization at an individual consumer level. Consumer behavior would have to be analyzed to offer differential pricing, personalized and real-time promotions, and better service. Personalization would not be restricted to consumer but would extend to the store and products as well. Depending on the store format and the products being offered, retailers would look at dynamic assortment, driven through an app in the store.

Pricing is a relatively ignored area in retail today and has huge potential to increase profitability for the store.

The other areas would be traditional levers of Cost and Risk management. Labor is the biggest operating cost component for a store (25-30%), can technology reduce this? How can inventory and shrinkage be reduced? Retailers will have to think about these questions. E.g., retailers spend significant money each year servicing claims from customers who meet with minor accidents in stores, how can these be avoided or reduced. Energy consumption within the store is another cost driver that would be rationalized.

Retailers must also revamp their processes to embrace omni channel in its true sense, be it making replenishments in smaller batches in a day, better managing staff with rotation of shifts, and such, to make their store future ready and have a meaningful conversation with their customers.

MANTHAN: The phrase ‘Data is the new oil’ has been popular for the past few years. Have retailers realized this value? What is stopping them from maximizing the value of data?

VIN & RONO:  Like oil, data is invaluable, not just for retail, but any industry of today. It is going to revamp the retail sector in coming years and stop the physical store from extinction and becoming the dinosaurs of our generation.

But just like oil, data can be inflammable too, if not utilized effectively. We see data to be regulated increasingly in the future, it has already started in EU with introduction of GDPR. But in future, data would be marketed, sold, and utilized in pre-set conditions.

Retailers will have to be judicious on how they collect and use data. How the data is analyzed and benefitted from would be most important, rather than racing to collect more and more of it. Governance standards would have to be established with how data is standardized. Many companies today are not doing a good job of this.

“Retail sector today is highly under-leveraged in predictive analytics. Retailers should invest in this in 2019.”

MANTHAN: Can you share your thoughts on predictive analytics and it’s expected impact on retailers?

VIN & RONO: Predictive customer analytics has had a giant evolution in a very short time and it now is a necessity, a given. Retailers need to utilize this in physical stories to maximize the potential. It should be used for defining pricing, inventory, merchandising, and even number of stores needed.

Predictive customer analytics in future should be used beyond this, it should help influence consumer behavior. So influence external entities rather than just internal. Consumers should become influencers of your brand.

The retail sector today is highly under-leveraged in this area. It has tremendous un-utilized opportunity to gain from predictive analytics. Retailers should invest in this in 2019.

Retailers need to take the organization along to make any predictive customer analytics program successful. Technology is one aspect, but business should understand the value and be an equal partner.

MANTHAN: AI promises to make data-driven business processes more intelligent. How do you see this impacting retailers?

VIN & RONO: AI has infinite potential to disrupt retail. This should be looked at in two broad spectrums.

At the customer facing end, we have seen apps from home improvement retailers where you can take a picture of your room and the app shows you assortment of products enabled through deep learning. Or take a picture of a pair of shoes and suggestions roll up on your screen based on your preferences.

On the backend, AI can impact on how pricing algorithms are defined to make almost real-time price suggestions for individual customers. It can help take decisions on inventory movement, or control energy consumption in the stores, or guide store associates.

MANTHAN: What innovation are you looking forward to seeing at NRF 2019?

RONO: I am looking forward to seeing how AI or Robotics would impact the store of the future.

VIN: I am really interested in learning how this high influx of technical innovations that are replacing store associates (think Amazon Go) replace the human touch, empathy, or need for dialogue that a shopper visiting a physical store looks for.

Thank you Vin & Rono!

BIG Expectations: 15 Retail Experts tell us what they expect from NRF 2019

The NRF Retail Big Show 2019 is fast approaching, and we are excited! This year at NRF 2019, Manthan will be showcasing The Store That Knows, an AI-powered, omni channel marketing entity that offers analytics and insights 24×7, giving retailers smart recommendations while implementing real-time decisions. As always, we talked to several retail experts to find out what they are looking forward to seeing at NRF this year, and here’s what they had to say:

Manthan’s Question:

What big retail idea do you hope to see at NRF RETAIL’S BIG SHOW 2019?

Joseph Skorupa

Matthew Shay (@NRFNews)

President and CEO, National Retail Federation

Retailers are constantly evaluating and implementing new technology that improves the customer experience, both online and in store. There is so much opportunity for retailers to integrate voice intelligence, and we plan to see examples of this come to life at NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show.

Bob Phibbs

Bob Phibbs (@theretaildoctor)

www.RetailDoc.com

I’m looking forward to hearing new ways retailers are dealing with 70% cart abandonment online. Just sending more coupons within a few hours doesn’t seem to be working. That and innovative ways the human touch is returning as benchmarks of customer service.

Joseph Skorupa

Joe Skorupa (@joeskorupa)

Editorial Director, RIS News

A big idea I would like to see presented at the NRF Big Show 2019 is the consumer genome. Personalized marketing based on a retailer’s available data has had only mediocre success. What is needed is the creation of a consumer genome that enables retailers to sequence, analyze and interpret the habits, preferences and behaviors of shoppers. Humans are complex and retailers who once thought they were drowning now must realize they not have enough data or do not have enough of the right data.

Doug Stephens

Doug Stephens (@RetailProphet)

retailprophet.com

What I’d like to see at NRF 2019 is a dialogue around the power of physical stores as a media channel and the ways in which pioneering companies like Nike, B8TA, Dyson and others are designing and measuring their physical spaces and customer experiences in new and dynamic ways.

Andrew Busby

Andrew Busby (@andrewbusby)

Retail Analyst & Keynote Speaker

I’m hoping to see the store of the future. Not a box selling stuff but an immersive space, inviting me to spend time there through a combination of intrigue, excitement, theatre, inspiration topped off with a light sprinkling of magic. Yes, I’m hoping to see the store of the future.

Nicole Reyhle

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle (@RetailMinded)

Retail Minded, Founder& Publisher, Independent Retailer Conference, Co-Founder

At the upcoming NRF Retail’s BIG Show, I expect to see a lot of action within the payments category. There are a variety of innovative, exciting solutions that are available to merchants to help streamline but also strengthen security when it comes to accepting customer payments. As consumers demand more precise and effective shopping experiences, this specific space is one that retailers should not overlook. I anticipate at the NRF Retail Big Show there will be a variety of conversations surrounding payments and ways to best support consumers across the generations and across their preferences when it comes to both buying online and in-stores.

greg buzek

Greg Buzek (@gregbuzek)

President – IHL Group, Advisory Board – Retail Orphan Initiative

I expect to see major solutions around customer engagement and customer experience. Retailers have been spending quite bit on unifying their channels in the past few years, but with 55% of US Households having Amazon Prime, they must give reasons for consumers to actually visit stores. So areas of inventory accuracy, speed of service and positive, engaging experience.

tony donofrio

Tony D’Onofrio (@tonycdonofrio)

CEO of TD Insights LLC

NRF19 arrives at a critical time for retail – a positive USA holiday season, Amazon at an inflection point, and the end of an over-hyped retail apocalypse. The future of retail includes increased personalized branding and immersive customer experiences through technology. Which companies have stepped-up to this challenge in 2019?

Caroline Baldwin

Caroline Baldwin (@cl_baldwin)

Editor – Essential Retail

One topic I hope to see take centre stage at this year’s NRF is sustainability. Be it on the conference agenda or technologies showcased at the Expo. Retailers are crying out for solutions to help them to improve their businesses to become environmentally friendly, as shoppers have finally woken up in 2017 to the realisation that we need to be more mindful in our consumption of goods if we want our planet to last for generations to come.

Steven Dennis

Steven P. Dennis (@StevenPDennis)

President & Founder, SageBerry Consulting, LLC

At the NRF Big Show I’m looking to see what retailers that are trapped in the boring middle are doing to become more truly customer relevant and remarkable.

Diane Brisebois

Diane J. Brisebois (@LoveRetail)

President & CEO, Retail Council of Canada

At NRF’s Big Show I will be looking for innovative e-commerce and brick-and-mortar solutions in marketing and personalization – how retailers communicate, via different platforms, with customers in a way that enables loyalty, while managing privacy guidelines, increasing the coolness factor versus the creepiness sometimes associated with personalized messaging – ultimately leveraging analytics solutions to truly deepen the bond between brand and customer.

Debbie Hauss

Debbie Hauss (@dhauss)

Editor-in-Chief, Retail TouchPoints

I am hoping to see great ideas to help frontline brand ambassadors – retail store associates – become more motivated, empowered advocates. It’s not a new concept, but it is increasingly and vitally important for retailers seeking to succeed as omni channel marketing retailers. Some technology/solutions I’ll watch for include: empowered scheduling, new mobile initiatives and unified commerce strategies.

Melissa gonzalez

Melissa Gonzalez (@MelsStyles)

Award winning retail strategist

For NRF 2019, I am looking forward to seeing more applications of augmented reality outside of beauty. It’s been truly transformative to the traditional experience of trying on makeup looks and new products so interested to see how other categories can truly benefit from it. And as the usage grows, how we can glean actionable data from customer interactions.

Cate Trotter

Cate Trotter (@insidertrends)

Head of Trends at Insider Trends

Less customer-facing tech and more conversation-supporting tech. There’s too much focus on shiny gizmos that are used to patch poor store experiences. I’m hoping to see tech that quietly sits behind the scenes, allowing for more interesting (and more informed) conversations with customers. Done right, it doesn’t just build rapport – it works like magic!

cathy_hotka

Cathy Hotka (@cathyhotka)

Cathy Hotka & Associates, LLC

The biggest opportunity for retail going forward is leveraging customer and transaction data for meaningful marketing. I’m looking forward to talking with innovative technology companies that can make sense of this data and help create personalized outreach that builds new business.

Analytics & Insights: Interview with rue21’s Chief Analytics Officer, Mark Chrystal

rue21 has been making news for its investment in analytics in order to transform itself into a more customer-centric business.

We caught up with Dr. Mark Chrystal, Chief Analytics Officer at rue21 to understand more about how he perceives the role of analytics in retail today, his upcoming talk at NRF’s Big Show and the future of retail.

MANTHAN: In your role as the Chief Analytics Officer, what would you say is the biggest challenge facing rue21 in 2019?

MARK: The biggest challenge I face is the ability to explain what is happening in the industry and more importantly, with our current, lapsed and potential customers. My job is to help the business navigate the environment and provide insights that help chart a course to success. This is particularly challenging in the current retail environment and for a company that is in the midst of a turnaround.

“We are now seeing analytics embedded across each functional unit as means of explaining what is happening, where it is happening, and how best to respond.”


MANTHAN: In your 20 years of retail experience, what have you noticed about the changing retail industry’s attitude towards analytics?

MARK: When I started in retail, analytics was being thought of as secondary to the success of a retail business. Analytics groups, if they did exist, were often in their own silos away from the day-to-day running of the business. At that time, most of the CEOs and head merchants across retail were trained based on having direct face-to-face interaction with their customers, and therefore thought about the business through a much more qualitative micro-level lens.

With the advent of eCommerce and social media and social influencers, the environment is far more diverse and complex than it was twenty years ago. We are now seeing analytics embedded across each functional unit as means of explaining what is happening, where it is happening, and how best to respond.

“Retailers need to employ real-time analytics to help them identify emerging themes, issues and opportunities.”


MANTHAN: AI promises to make data-driven business processes more intelligent. What are the top use cases you think might have big impact in retail today?

MARK: The top use cases for AI today, are in the automation of rote tasks, and in the identification of patterns and opportunities that are not as readily discernable via other analytical methodologies or business processes.

MANTHAN: We understand you’ll be speaking at NRF. What is the product paradigm shift going to be about?

MARK: I will be speaking at NRF about the shift within retail towards data-driven decision-making and organizational culture.  The presentation will focus mostly on how merchandising functions need to, and are, making this shift.

“Retailers need to create organizational cultures that are capable of interpreting real-time insights and taking action on those insights.”


MANTHAN: As enterprise and customer data continue to grow and customer journeys evolve, how can retailers keep up with sensing, analyzing and responding to opportunities potentially unfolding every day? 

MARK: I believe retailers need to employ real-time analytics to help them identify emerging themes, issues and opportunities with their customers and competitors. This means having models tuned to real-time analysis, alerts and insights across the retail footprint. This also means that retailers need to create organizational cultures that are capable of interpreting real-time insights and most importantly, taking action on those insights.

Most retail organizations have not evolved to this point yet and are still grappling with the change from the old merchant model to the model that modern customers clearly demand. The best retailers understand this, have made those changes, or created those types of cultures at inception and they are reaping the rewards.

MANTHAN: Thank you, Mark!

rue21 has selected Manthan, a leading provider of cloud analytics and artificial intelligence solutions, to help advance its analytic capabilities. The retailer will be rolling out Manthan’s Customer Data Platform, Customer Analytics and Enterprise Retail Analytics solutions to gain insights within the business and better connect with consumers.

Visit us at NRF 2019, Booth 4719 for more information on how Manthan can help you use analytics to become a future ready retailer.

[Infographic] Why will you attend NRF 2019?

This year at the NRF Retail Big Show 2019, Manthan will be showcasing The Store That Knows

This AI-powered, omnichannel entity offers analytics and insights 24×7, giving you smart recommendations while implementing your decisions. All in natural language.

And if that’s reason enough, take a look at the following infographic to see who else is likely to be at the NRF Big Show.

Supplier Collaboration

Retail Prophet Doug Stephens Interview: The store of the future won’t be a “store”

Changes are rampant in the retail industry. Every day we hear of both big brands (and small ones) closing shop or downsizing in an effort to stay lean and competitive. To understand in depth what’s happening in the retail landscape, we spoke to Doug Stephens.

Doug is the founder of Retail Prophet, and one of the world’s foremost retail industry futurists. The author of two groundbreaking books on retail, a nationally syndicated retail columnist, and over 20 years of experience in the retail industry, Doug brings together his unique perspective to provide Manthan with his insights on retailing, technology and consumer behavior.

MANTHAN: You speak of a sea change in retail and the trouble that’s coming for brick and mortar stores – can you explain this revolution?

DOUG: We have entered an era where media (in all its various form factors) has become “the store”.  Whether it’s a magazine ad I can activate with my smartphone, my connected appliances, my smart TV or my in-home artificial intelligence, media is no longer a call-out to visit a store – it is the store.  And this fact will only continue to escalate and permeate more aspects of our consumption.  Therefore, the role and nature of physical stores must change in order to adapt.  

Stores have to become places that move beyond the mere distribution of products and become enchanted spaces that distribute remarkable experiences.  The problem is, most retailers aren’t internalizing this reality yet.  Most store experiences remain unremarkable and it’s a fact that’s taking a toll on retail generally.  If we’re honest, the retail brands that are getting wiped out aren’t being mourned because they had in fact become irrelevant long before they died. 

“The retail brands that are getting wiped out aren’t being mourned because they had in fact become irrelevant long before they died.”

MANTHAN: What’s the role of technology in this revolution and which retailers are leading?

DOUG: Technology has essentially become the connective tissue in every aspect of our lives, whether we’re talking about business, leisure, commerce etc.  In retail, we know that upwards of 80 percent of all retail transactions are being influenced, to some degree, by digital.

The retailers that are leading are those that are essentially using technology as the mortar between the bricks of their customer experience.  They’re viewing technology as an essential means of removing friction from the customer experience as well as fortifying moments of experiential delight. Among the brands that I see as excelling are Amazon, Sephora, Starbucks, Wayfair – to name only a few.

MANTHAN: We hear experience becoming more important than the product – is that only for high involvement categories, while the drivers in other categories might be different?

DOUG: The consumer world is now divided into two very distinctly different and viable experiential spaces.  On the one hand some brands are winning through high-fidelity experiences that are immersive, memorable and emotionally connected. Other brands are killing it in their categories with high utility experiences that are frictionless, fast, convenient and very cognitively connected – they just make sense.  Both of these positions work and both are valued by consumers. The problem is, most retailers are neither high-fidelity nor high-utility and increasingly, that makes them irrelevant.

MANTHAN: Most businesses are struggling to become truly omni-channel – what’s your advice to them?

DOUG: I suppose I have two thoughts.  First, if you’re still working on omni-channel, consider that Amazon, Google and others are already dealing in the realm of omni-presence, in the sense that they’ve launched technologies like Amazon’s Echo that are quietly infiltrating the majority of homes in North America and available to consumers 24/7. Secondly, I’m not a big fan of the word omni-channel.  I prefer to think in terms of the customer journey with a brand and the various problems or opportunities along that journey.

If we can develop an intense and granular understanding of the consumer journey we can leverage the unique attributes of each channel to create the best possible solutions for the customer.  With this insight, we can then begin to build the back and front end systems and technology architecture to bring the experience to life! 

MANTHAN: Retailers that can best harness customer data will win – how far out do you see this becoming a reality?

DOUG: 200 years ago the local merchant that knew their customers most intimately won.  And they gathered information about their customers by being discreet about their privacy, delivering personalized recommendations and experiences and by building trust.  

Today is absolutely no different.  So, yes, retailers with the best data have an advantage. But getting that data means that a clear exchange of value has to transpire.  Data and privacy are no different than any other currency and consumers will spend their data with those brands and retailers that respect it and deliver clear value in exchange for it.

“I believe we’ll see a reengineering of the economic model for retail.”

MANTHAN: What’ does the ‘store of the future’ or ‘the intelligent store’ look like to you?

DOUG: 99 percent of the retail we see around us today is a relic of the 20th century.  It’s retail that was built for a pre-digital era and a completely different consumer reality.

The store of the future in my opinion won’t be a “store”.  It will be a space that draws the shopper into a story about their brand and their products.  It will be less about the products themselves and more about productions – experiences that are interactive, immersive and fun. Technology will allow us to activate store experiences that are unique, personalized and adaptive based on unique customer preferences and needs.

Technologies built into the skeleton of the space will deliver real-time, website-like insights that will allow retailers to respond in real time to different customer groups and dynamics within the space.

Essentially, retail stores will transform from being the mini-warehouses they are today, to becoming entertainment and hospitality spaces that trade on social, physical and emotionally connected experiences.  Products will come along in the jet stream across channels. 

I also believe we’ll see a reengineering of the economic model for retail. Look for more retailers working directly with brands to create experiences  – what I call physical media –  for which they’re paid upfront, rather than being dependent on product sales.  

MANTHAN: Thank you, Doug!

Big Data Marketing

Big Data and Marketing – Heady Cocktails And Crushing Hangovers.

A marketer and a data scientist walk into a bar… In most real worlds, they don’t acknowledge each other, perch on different “clicca qui” stools, chug different drinks, and go their separate ways. The more data explodes, the more decision making practices remain the same. I was recently talking to a COO who described his role as the ability to take the most impactful decisions with the thinnest possible information. It is the nature of data – Big or Otherwise. We keep talking of social feeds and Facebook posts and mobile phone penetration. All of these make for great story telling. But unless the information extracted from these sources is explicitly useful taking a marketing decision – in talking to a customer, creating a campaign, or driving a cross-sell, it is of limited value. It is this absence of a meaningful connect between data sciences and marketing that we need to bridge. What Big Data technologies help with, is to fulfil and make this crying need for usable, timely and relevant insights come alive. Let me give you a few examples : For a premier online fashion brand, the challenge in engaging with its customers centred around getting the relevant style lines in front of customers who are most likely to appreciate them, and therefore buy them. There is an intuitive understanding that the sporty maven aspires to a different style statement than the classic executive. The way the former navigates the site is of course different from the latter. The challenge and opportunity lies in identifying and quantifying this intuition, translating it into measurable insight, identifying the customer trigger, and therefore personalizing the web page. This is true Big Data analytics in action – analysing very large volumes of historic data, recognizing customer browsing behavior in real-time and serving the most relevant style-lines instantaneously. Another great example is that of a big box grocer rejuvenating his weekly promotional newsletters to be more relevant and engaging to his mailing list, and therefore growing the traffic and conversion in his stores manifold. Creating variants of newsletters or creating split runs, have always been around. But getting every single customer to have a unique, different and most relevant mix of offers and announcements on the first page of her FSI is suddenly very special. It is a special marketing capability and it makes the customer feel special. But to do this, one has to marry behavioral insights with product propensities, the offer bank, and the campaign objectives of that week. This is Big Data coming alive. And it suddenly drives redemption up three times and campaign lifts into high double digits. Now we have a real example of how Big Data has transformed a simple weekly promo mailer into a competitive weapon. In both these examples, what is valuable to note is that marketers have always wanted to do this – to engage the right customer with the right message through the right medium. What held them back was the daunting nature of the task. If done manually, the sheer permutation of communication options would call for an army of analysts to be deployed behind the scenes. If done using conventional technologies – the skills, effort and investment needed to get the data together, run the analyses, and integrate the different systems together to make it work, make the effort seem unmerited. In both examples, all three critical pieces of the puzzle – getting the data together, running sophisticated analysis behind the scenes, and automating the entire process so that results can be delivered instantaneously – is achieved by Big data technologies and Big data analytics. There’s a lot written on words like machine learning and artificial intelligence to prop up capabilities such as the ones I’ve described above. I for one am happy if the marketer and the data scientist share a tipple and reminisce the good new times. Related Solution: Transform your Customer Marketing with Manthan’s Customer Analytics Solution
Customer Lifecycle Marketing

Building Enhanced Customer Relevance with Lifecycle Aware Marketing

Customer Marketing is not about intuition anymore:  it is about knowing the customer well and mining actionable insights that go beyond demographic segmentation. In order to do the right behavioral targeting, there is need to add psychographic segmentation in building audience profile. This brings mail order brides Mexico focus on behavioral marketing where it is imperative that the Marketing Lifecycle intersect with the Customer Lifecycle Journey and Product Lifecycle. This intersection is what leading Marketers across the globe are looking to exploit to push the frontier on customer engagement and build brand advocates out of the buyers.  As David Redhil, CMO, Deloitte puts it, “Great relationships are built on moments that matter – you are there when I need you, you have a capacity to own my problem and walk in my shoes.” (ref) In his book Organizational Physics, Lex Sinsky argues that “In order to execute on a successful strategy, the stages of all three lifecycles must be in close alignment with each other. If not, like a pyramid with one side out of balance, it will collapse on itself and your strategy will fail. Why? Because aligning the product, market, and execution lifecycles gives your business the greatest probability of getting new energy from the environment now and capitalizing on emerging growth opportunities in the future” The same also applies in the customer marketing context. This is further illustrated in the success of new consoles and gaming toys from the company with lion’s share of the gaming market. The CMO of the gaming giant ascribes its success to their customer relevant market strategy that keenly observes areas of overlap between marketing and product lifecycle, in the light of Customer Lifecycle and Life stages.

The Intersection Where Opportunities Abound

intersection_where_opportunities_abound An awareness of Customer Lifecycle in the context of Product and Marketing Lifecycle allows the marketer to broaden his horizon and not only to predict the next logical purchase, but in ensuring that the Events of Marketing Relevance in the Customers’ life are in the radar.  The intersection also provides for successful NPI (New Product Introduction) and increased brand adoption among customers. As the customer advances in her journey, the product and marketing lifecycles should be aligned in creating relevant offers and responsive price-points that win customer delight. “Consumers are not always selfish, rational and independent agents but instead they exhibit a strong interdependency and limited or “bounded” rationality”, a study on Consumer Decision making reveals. Marketers today are gearing up to exploit the Events of Marketing Relevance, as they present themselves. To uncover these events it is essential that an inclusive and holistic view of products, marketing and customers are built, monitored and aligned. These need not walk in distinct directions away from each other, the marketer’s craft is now ably supported by the right customer analytics products and efficiencies to bring harmony into it and unearth opportunities unbound.