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Report: Retailers lag behind Amazon in strategic use of analytics

BY Marianne Wilson

Randolph, N.J. — Retailers are behind Amazon in analytics maturity, according to a new research report from EKN Research. Eighty percent of retailers say they are behind Amazon in analytics maturity, and 71% of retailers perform either basic analytics reporting or none at all – revealing retailers’ inability to take advantage of the data that is available to them.

The report, EKN’s 3rd Annual Analytics in Retail, show that while four in five retailers use enterprise-grade analytics, they cite analytics interpretation as their biggest challenge. (The study was sponsored by Manthan and SAS.”

“Retailers view analytics as extremely strategic, yet they currently struggle to derive commensurate value from their analytics investments,” said Gaurav Pant, senior VP Research and principal analyst, EKN. “However, there are significant opportunities for retailers that can harness the power of analytics. Retailers that can overlay their analytics capabilities with a strategy and organizational capability tightly linked with their business model will gain competitive advantage.”
Highlights of the report include:

• Retail spending on analytics is increasing. The retail industry’s average spending on analytics as a percentage of the total IT budget is set to increase from 14% (2013) to 23% (2017). With increased spending, retailers can begin to bring on skilled resources and systems that can help translate analytics data into strategic competitive differentiation.

• Retailers lack structure and ownership for analytics reporting: According to EKN’s data, 51% of surveyed retailers don’t have a formal analytics team, which creates data silos and inconsistency in reporting. Moreover, 42% have no single owner that is responsible for creating an analytics strategy and roadmap – further hindering retailers’ abilities in analytics.

• Retailers are focused on hindsight reporting. 70% of retailers are stuck in a hindsight-oriented reporting cycle; however, as the report indicates, a shift towards data/insight-driven decisions can have dramatic impact on efficiency and performance. The transition from hindsight- to foresight-oriented analytics reporting gives retailers a big opportunity to close the value realization gap.

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Olive Garden rolling out new restaurant design, online To Go platform

BY Marianne Wilson

ORLANDO, Fla. — Olive Garden has begun the the roll out of a new restaurant remodel design and logo. The company, a division of Darden Restaurants Inc., is also launching an updated web experience and an online to-go platform for desktop and mobile computer users at all its U.S. restaurants.

The updated design will be implemented at more than 75 Olive Garden locations during the next year. The look is more open and vibrant, designed to create an atmosphere that promotes togetherness, while maintaining the chain’s casual warmth and family-friendly nature.

Features of the new design includes the removal of walls to create a more open and inviting atmosphere; distinctive decor in each dining area for a more homelike feel; a striking, more modern lobby and bar area; flexible seating that better accommodates large parties; and more vibrant colors, fabrics and textures.

Olive Garden also is introducing a redesigned web experience that includes the national launch of online To Go, where guests can order meals via Olive Garden’s website for pick-up at restaurant locations across the country. Guests can pre-pay for their purchase online or when picking up at the restaurant and redeem coupons with their order. They also have the option to save their favorite orders for future transactions and order meals days in advance.

Olive Garden’s new logo will be featured on remodeled restaurants, Olive Garden’s new website and social media pages, as well as on menus and other marketing communications. All restaurant signage in remodel markets also will be converted to feature the new logo. This marks the first time Olive Garden has significantly evolved its logo in more than 15 years and is a physical indicator of the significant changes the restaurant is making to update its brand, the company said.

"We’ve done a lot of work during the past year to evolve the experience we deliver to our guests, from offering more choice and variety on our menu to creating a more flexible service approach that puts our guests’ needs first," said Jay Spenchian, Olive Garden’s executive VP of marketing. "As we continue to update our brand experience, we needed to send a strong signal to our guests that there’s something new and exciting at Olive Garden, and our new remodel design, web experience and logo are designed to do just that."ma

Olive Garden also is testing a new menu design and format in more than 30 restaurants with plans to roll out nationwide later this year. In addition to this test, all remodeled restaurants will feature a new leather-bound menu with an updated look and streamlined format that’s easier to navigate and consistent with Olive Garden’s new brand merchandising and logo.

During the past year, Olive Garden said, it has simplified its culinary operations to focus on food quality, evolved its service approach to be more flexible and personal to anticipate customers needs, and expanded its menu with more than 20 new items.

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Coupon activity increased 3.4% during the first six months of 2014

BY Marianne Wilson

Minneapolis — Free standing Insert (FSI) coupon activity increased 3.4% t based on coupons dropped during the first six months of 2014 versus the year ago period, according to Marx, a Kantar Media solution. Coupons dropped within non-food categories increased 8.2% to represent 65% of the 158 billion FSI coupons distributed during this period.

“Increases in FSI coupon activity within the non-food segment were driven by the health care and the personal care areas, which continue to leverage FSI coupons to effectively deliver advertising impact, purchase incentives and retailer merchandising support for their brands,” said Dan Kitrell, VP account solutions at Marx.

During the first six months of 2014, food categories distributed 55.9 billion coupons, a decrease of 3.9% with the refrigerated foods area reporting the largest actual decrease.

Retailer promotion pages increased 26.8% to more than 14.5 billion pages in the first half of 2014. The number of manufacturers participating in retailer promotions increased from 236 in the first half of 2013 to 335 during the first half of 2014. The number of retailers also increased, from 107 in 2013 to 125 in 2014. Retailers from mass (Walmart, Target), drug (Walgreens, CVS), value (Family Dollar, Dollar General) and food (Safeway, Kroger, Publix, and Vons retail banners) comprised the top ten retailers.

Walmart continued to hold the top spot based on number of pages circulated with an increase of 45.9% to more than 5.2 billion pages, which was the largest actual increase among the top ten retailers. These trends reflect the overall growth of retailer promotion within traditional FSI vehicles to reach shoppers in the home to drive trips, transactions, and profits across channels and retail formats.

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