BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE/ANALYTICS

Five ways Walmart uses big data

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart is bullish on big data — especially when it comes to finding ways to better serve its shoppers.

Big data volume continues to grow, but Walmart is using it to the company’s — and its customers’ — advantage. By analyzing the robust information flowing throughout its operations, the discounter has gained a real-time view of workflow across its pharmacy, distribution centers, stores and e-commerce, according to a company blog.

Here are five ways that Walmart is using big data to enhance, optimize and customize the shopping experience:

1. To make Walmart pharmacies more efficient. By analyzing simulations, the discount giant can understand how many prescriptions are filled in a day, and determine the busiest times during each day or month. Big data also helps Walmart schedule associates more efficiently, and reduce the time and labor needed to fill perceptions.

2. To improve store checkout. While it is still only testing the process, Walmart is using predictive analytics to anticipate store demand and determine how many associates are needed to man registers. The data also reveals the best form of checkout at each store: traditional stations or self-checkout.

3. To manage the supply chain. The company uses simulations to track the number of steps from the dock to the store. The result: more optimized routes to the shipping dock. The strategy also pinpoints the number of times a product gets touched along the way to the customer. Big data also reveals transportation lanes and routes for the company’s fleet of trucks. This insight helps Walmart keep transportation costs down and more accurately schedule driver times, according to the blog.

4. To optimize product assortment. By analyzing customer preferences and shopping patterns, Walmart can optimize how to stock shelves and display merchandise. Big data also provides insight into new items, discontinued products and which brands to carry, the blog said.

5. To personalize the shopping experience. By analyzing shopper’s preferences, Walmart can develop a more consistent, tailored shopping experience. If a customer is shopping for baby products for example, Walmart can use data analytics to anticipate their needs then create personalized mobile rollback deals for these shoppers.

Whether it’s analyzing the transportation route for a supply chain or using data to optimize pricing, big data analytics will continue to be a key way for Walmart to enhance the customer experience, according to the company.

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C-SUITE

Toys ‘R’ Us in key appointment

BY Marianne Wilson

Toys "R" Us named Mark Johnson executive VP, U.S. marketplace operations, effective immediately.

Johnson had been serving as interim executive VP, store operations since May. He joined the company in October 2014 as regional director for stores before being promoted to VP of operations, strategy and execution in 2015.

Prior to joining Toys "R" Us, Johnson served as regional manager for Walmart Stores, U.S., where he led process and customer service excellence. He was a partner at McKinney Rogers Global Business Execution Consultancy, where he provided counsel to senior leaders at Walmart and other businesses undergoing transformation. Earlier in his career, he served in the United States Marine Corps before retiring in 2007.

In his new role, Johnson will be responsible for virtually every aspect of the company's retail operation across its U.S. Toys "R"Us and Babies "R" Us stores, with a goal of delivering an exceptional shopping experience for customers. He will also serve as a member of the company's global leadership team, providing strategic direction and support for store operations.

"As we work to grow and build our brands across the globe, the customer experience is at the core of everything we do," said Toys "R" Us chairman and CEO Dave Brandon. "Over the last several years, Mark has been a key player in the evolution of our brick and mortar store operations and in this important leadership position, he will have even greater opportunity to help our store teams become trusted friends and advocates for kids and their families."

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C-SUITE

Former Target exec to head up grocery chain

BY Marianne Wilson

Houston-based Fiesta Mart has appointed a retail veteran as its new chief executive.

The Hispanic grocery store chain named Sid Keswani as CEO, effective August 9, 2017. He replaced outgoing chief executive Mike Byars.

Keswani previously served 19 years at Target Corp., rising to the rank of senior VP. He went on to serve as senior VP of operations for Susser Holdings, which operates over 625 convenience stores. While at Susser, Keswani helped add over 125 additional stores to the portfolio via acquisitions and new store growth in just 18 months. For the past three years, Keswani served as the COO of Aspen Heights, a real estate development firm in Austin, Texas.

“We are very excited that Sid is joining Fiesta at this time in our growth strategy,” Ken Brotman, managing partner at ACON Investments, said in a statement. “He brings a great deal of relevant experience and skills to Fiesta as we look forward to our next phase of growth.”

Fiesta Mart operates 68 stores in the Houston, Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth markets. The company is owned by private equity firm Acon Investments, which acquired it from Fiesta's family owners in April 2015.

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