All Data Leads to the Customer
Workforce management data, such as time and attendance and payroll, is generally seen as information pertaining to the back end of retail operations. Managing employees is an activity that generally does not involve front-end customer interaction and data generated from this activity is usually siloed from the data retailers use to help guide their customer-facing activities.
However, while this viewpoint may be understandable, it is also short-sighted. As pointed out by numerous industry speakers at the recent KronosWorks 2013 conference in Orlando, Fla., retailers are in the business of serving customers. Therefore, every retail activity, and by extension data generated by every retail activity, is relevant to the customer experience. If in the ancient world of travel all roads led to Rome, in the modern world of retail all data leads to the customer.
Cutting Hours May Not Boost Profits
Paying store associates is a huge drain on most retailers’ profits. Therefore, retailers tend to track associate hours very closely and reflexively cut them as soon as payroll exceeds weekly or monthly forecasts. However, as David Schaub, manager of retail operations at Puma North America, explained in a KronosWorks session, reducing the number of associates on the floor to meet a short-term payroll goal may lead to the loss of sales and even customers due to shoppers who cannot receive the in-store assistance they need.
That is why Puma includes workforce data in its broader operational analysis of things like customer service levels and sales trends, and you should, too.
Know Who’s Available When
Retailers have gotten better about timing their promotions. Since the late ‘90s, they have increasingly coordinated promotions with relevant third parties like suppliers and distributors, helping to ensure that adequate stock levels are available and internal marketing efforts don’t conflict with brand-led promotions.
But internally, there is generally little coordination between marketers and workforce management personnel to ensure that stores and distribution centers will have enough workers to handle a promotional event. Coordinating promotions with suppliers to get the right number of goods to the store does little good if there aren’t enough associates to keep the shelves stocked.
In addition, retail marketers can examine data on employee scheduling in advance of promotions, so that for example if a local or ethnic holiday affects the availability of a large number of employees in a specific region, the timing of the promotion can be altered there.
The More Metadata, the Merrier
With the advent of Hadoop and other analytical platforms capable of rapidly sorting through reams of Big Data and uncovering otherwise hidden insights, retailers have taken an increasing interest in collecting and studying as much metadata as possible to improve their customer experience. The inclusion of workforce management data nicely spices up the retail metadata stew.
Maybe in-store sales improve when a certain percentage of associates have taken a paid vacation within a certain period of time. Perhaps there is a perfect mix of veteran and new employees that maximizes the efficiency of store operations. Whatever the case may be, the more data that comprises the “meta” in your metadata, the deeper the resulting analytical insight will be. All data leads to the customer, but first you have to find and then follow it.
Acosta Mosaic Group unveils purchase design agency for retailers
Acosta Mosaic Group, the marketing division of Acosta Sales and Marketing, has launched Shopper Solutions, a newly formed agency which combines AMG’s retailer-facing marketing services in the U.S. and Canada and is designed to deliver a streamlined offering to clients across North America.
Touted by the firm as North America’s only purchase design agency for retailers, Shopper Solutions will allow North American retailers to engage their shoppers online and in-store through “captivating shopper experiences.”
“The retail landscape is incredibly promising, but more complex than ever before. The vision for Shopper Solutions is to help retailers create purchase influence through integrated customer experiences across their ecosystems,” says Anne Howe, SVP, Shopper Solutions.
The agency’s key offering of purchase design connects customer experience and behavior change to sales growth, according to the firm. Shopper Solutions distills clients’ business challenges through immersion in consumer, customer and retailer behaviors at the channel, category and brand levels — that is, the agency’s experts observe in- and out-of-store behaviors to show clients what the shopper truly sees and does, and to simplify complex issues into actionable insights and strategies.
“I am very excited about this growth strategy and the increased strength Shopper Solutions will bring to the broader AMG team, as well as the subsequent value we will be able to offer clients across North America,” says Chad Grenier, EVP, North America Retail Marketing Services, AMG. “This is a win-win for Acosta Sales and Marketing, AMG and all of our respective clients, whether brands or retailers.”
Howe will lead The U.S. Shopper Solutions team while VP Steve Noble will continue leading the Canadian operation. Both teams will operate under the AMG services umbrella and will report to Grenier.
CVS appoints EVP, health plans
CVS has appointed Tracy Bahl as EVP, health plans, leading the teams responsible for supporting health plan clients and offering health plans guidance to help them navigate the evolving health care marketplace.
"As health care reform continues to spur unprecedented and rapid changes across the health care system, CVS Caremark is focused on providing health plans with value and insights to help them manage the increasing complexity of the marketplace," Jon Roberts, president of the PBM business at CVS Caremark said. "Tracy is a great addition to our team and we look forward to working with him to continue to develop innovative solutions and offerings for health plans."
Known for his deep customer focus and relationship-building skills, Bahl brings to CVS nearly 30 years of experience as a health care executive with a strong track record of delivering results in leadership positions. He spent 10 years at UnitedHealth Group, where he served as the CEO of the Uniprise division, which encompassed the company’s national accounts business, consumer health business, financial services business, and service and technology operations.
He also worked for CIGNA Healthcare in a variety of regional and national health plan roles. Most recently, Bahl worked for General Atlantic, a global growth equity investment firm, where he supported a number of portfolio companies and investment activities in the health care space as a special advisor on the health care team. One of his primary roles was serving as executive chairman of Emdeon, playing a key role in its growth and subsequent sale.