Shopper Connections

Predictive analytics can help chains reformulate merchandising and marketing strategies

Retailers have learned that the only way to survive in a tight economy is to know their shoppers’ expectations and preferences, and deliver specific service based on these needs. As chains interact with shoppers across new and evolving channels, however, they must support consumer-centric strategies with analytics that monitor shoppers’ habits and preferences to ensure they deliver the personalized service, regardless of the channel in which they shop. 

In fact, personalization is now considered so important to retail longevity that 41% of retailers made consumer-centricity an enterprise strategy in 2010, up from just 11% in 2009, according to “The State of Personalization in Retail: Benchmark 2010,” study, conducted by Retail Systems Research, Miami. 

While a majority of retailers already mine point-of-sale data to understand shoppers’ demographics and purchases, retailers are challenged when it comes to keeping and attracting more of their “best” shoppers, and moving their “good” and “better” customers into a higher segmentation, especially as they shop in new retail channels.

“The best way to retain those top, profitable shoppers is to target the best products, services, price and promotions according to their consumers’ needs, and do so in their preferred shopping channels,” said Janet Hoffman, managing director, retail practice for technology, outsourcing and consulting firm Accenture. 

This type of differentiation comes from gaining a 360-degree view of the shopper. Chains must understand purchase patterns in-store, online, through smart phones and social media, and even how they respond to pop-up stores or promotions in interactive kiosks and vending machines, according to Hoffman.

“There is no longer such a thing as a single channel customer, so for consumer-centricity to work, retailers need to know what the consumer wants in all channels,” she added.

Currently, retailers analyze data in their planning to understand preferences and see historical shopping patterns. But the real key to meeting shopper expectations is through the use of predictive analytics. Such analysis gets to the heart of what to expect with regard to shoppers’ future demands, allowing retailers to merchandise and market on a much more targeted basis. Moving ahead, chains must be able to take a snapshot of what is happening enterprise-wide — in-store and across digital channels — to get a complete view of the shopper. 

While enterprise-wide, cross-channel consumer-centricity may seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. The following tips can help chains reconnect and attract their best shoppers:

• Invest in technology, especially predictive analytics. 

• Integrate analytics across all channels.

“The digital consumer is more nimble than ever,” Hoffman explained. “Retailers need an analytics platform that is flexible enough to delve into their buying actions enterprise-wide.”

• Use analytics to know and identify your shoppers. Understand where they shop, and how their behavior differs across channels, including innovative ones, such as pop-up stores and social media. 

• Be ready to act. “Retailers need to understand what consumers consider valuable, and take action on insight through merchandise, price and promotions that satisfy the needs of your best shoppers,” Hoffman advised.

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