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Smarter Data Management Helps Retailers Compete

BY CSA STAFF

Chain Store Age recently spoke with Hiro Yoshikawa, CEO and co-founder of Treasure Data. He discussed how a new level of customer data analysis can improve the customer experience.

How has unified commerce and digitally influenced retail stepped up the game on data management?

The vision for a unified commerce platform opens up a fire hydrant of data from so many different channels — online, mobile, offline, first-party, partnered data — that it forces retailers to get much smarter about finding out which pieces of data are the most symbolic of their customers’ choices. Now the challenge is performing that customer data analysis at the speed of e-commerce — and making a relevant recommendation before the consumer’s attention is stolen away.

What needs to be in place for retailers to harness — and learn from — incoming big data?

Learning from the data and capitalizing on it are two different things, of course.

Most data analytics platforms still require a data scientist, or even an entire data science team, to separate signal from noise, make sense of all the customer data, and turn that into decisions. These can be everything from design changes on the e-commerce site to what products are displayed together in physical store planograms. We designed the Treasure Data platform so the most useful data bubbles up to the top, giving any decision maker in the organization real-time access to that meaningful information.

For retailers to survive and thrive in a given market, they must be able to nimbly interpret customer data and use it to innovate the customer experience. Physical retailers need to come up with novel ways to reinvent the shopping experience through faster delivery, special deals, unique services, greater personalization, and creative digital marketing strategies. They need the mechanisms in place to drive action at the corporate level, and implement quickly, uniformly, and on brand, at the store level.

“Learning from the data and capitalizing on it are two different things, of course. […] For a retailer to survive and thrive in a given market, they must be able to nimbly interpret customer data and use it to innovate the customer experience.”

Where do retailers still struggle when it comes to data management?

Large, legacy retailers are all struggling to adapt to the challenge of Amazon and companies born in the digital age. Shopping habits have changed, and the new breed of retailer manages large volumes of data over a robust online infrastructure to innovate even in unseen parts of the organization, like delivery staging and supply chain.

What role does artificial intelligence (AI) play in helping retailers compete?

Using Treasure Data’s Customer Data Platform, retailers can combine online browsing data and in-store purchase history to develop a complete, anonymous customer profile. Joined with real-time store inventory data, they could use AI and machine learning to make personalized, predictive algorithms around purchase intent. AI could then automatically execute data-driven incentives like personalized coupons and timely, well-targeted in-app push notifications, at the moment when the customer is considering buying a specific item, and where to get it.

How can Treasure Data help retailers achieve their data management goals in this new digitally driven landscape?

Treasure Data can help retailers reposition themselves, even internally, as a modern, data savvy organization. We can process more than 8 million web and mobile events per day and analyze more than 3 billion transactions per year. By delving into processes like browsing behavior and app usage, we can help retailers bridge the gap and find out what their customers truly want.

We can help increase sales revenue by unifying customer data from any number of channels, and performing deep analysis of that data. For example, we’ve helped a 650-plus-store global retailer push the frontiers of innovation with strong growth in core retail operations, including bedrock key performance indicators like same-store sales. This brand has proven that in-store traffic and revenue can increase with a strong understanding and use of customer data.

Treasure Data’s Customer Data Platform gives retailers the ability to obtain data instantly and use this understanding of online consumer behavior to drive offline shopping purchases.

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SHOP TALK

BY CSA STAFF

Trending Stores: No two stores are exactly alike at Warby Parker. But the popular eyewear company’s new store in Los Angeles, above, is a particular standout for its celebration of Hollywood’s moviemaking history. The store combines Warby Parker’s signature library-style design and fixtures with such location-specific elements as a classic movie theater-styled marquee with rotating titles, a Hollywood-themed mural, and a display of movie clapboards behind the checkout. It even has a green screen room, where shoppers can make a 15-second movie, choosing from some 12 backdrops, ranging from an outer-space scene to an aquarium with a shark. There are also lots of props to choose from — including the frames on display. … Beauty retailing is hot. Bluemercury, which was purchased by Macy’s in 2015, plans to open some 40 stores in 2017, including six in Chicago. And fast-fashion giant Forever 21 entered into a partnership with mall owner GGP Inc. to open a new freestanding beauty boutique concept called Riley Rose that will debut at 10 GGP centers in 2017. Also teaming up with GGP is Lolli & Pops, which sells higher-end sweets and confectionary treats. The San Francisco-based Lolli will open 30 stores in GGP properties. … TJX Cos. is importing its Canadian/European home brand to the United States. The off-pricer will open its first U.S. Home-Sense location in August, in Framingham, Mass., with several locations planned by yearend. … Indochino, below, is expanding its fledgling store footprint. In 2017, the Vancouver-based online menswear retailer plans double its U.S. store count from five to 10 stores and also open three new outposts in Canada. Long term, the goal is to open 100 locations during the next five years. Indochino stores are designed to bring the brand’s online made-to-measure experience to the physical space. Customers are paired with a “style guide” who helps them design their one-of-a-kind suit or shirt. The associates take measurements, assist with fabric selection, and walk shoppers through a wide variety of personalization options. Each garment is made-to-order.

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Swire’s U.S. Statement

BY Al Urbanski

As striking as is the interior of Swire’s Brickell City Centre, where every turn of every corner is a possible photo for Architectural Digest, it’s the parking garage that impressed me most.

Underground garages are essentially non-existent in this neck of downtown Miami, which has a shipping canal running through it from nearby Biscayne Bay. The soil is sandy, and when you dig down 10 feet or so, water starts seeping in. But Swire, the China-based developer with few projects in the U.S., was intent on putting a parking area below its luxury retail center. And not a small one, either — two levels over five blocks to accommodate 1,600 cars.

Swire’s engineers attacked the challenge with a method borrowed from tunnel builders called “deep soil mixing.” Excavation happens, then water is drained out. Then more digging and more drainage, more digging and more drainage, and on and on it goes. Injection of soil into the muck brings it up to the texture of concrete. It was a long, laborious, and, needless to say, expensive undertaking.

It was also a symbol of Swire’s commitment to creating a luxury neighborhood in a heretofore office-space-dominated banking district. I spent a few days probing nearly every nook and cranny of this project on a press tour in June, and, in so doing, a few of the other reporters and I mused that the stated $1.1 billion price tag on Brickell City seemed a little light. Two luxury high-rises, the East hotel, and the City Centre added up to 5.4 million sq. ft. of high-end real estate.

“Actually, it was closer to one billion dollars,” Swire Properties U.S. President Kieran Bowers told me one night after dinner at East’s Quinto La Huella — Uruguayan cuisine; check it out. “We came in at a good time, during the recession, when land costs were negotiable and Miami’s reputably difficult construction crews were amenable to working with Swire.”

It also helped that well-financed Swire built Brickell City Centre using its own money.

Swire’s particular about the projects it undertakes. The 300-year-old company adheres to a strict formula: Find a place it can own that (a) will support luxury residential and hotels, (b) that is well situated within a metro area, and (c) that is on a mass transit line.

An integral feature of this development that is bound to escape the notice of casual visitors is the Eighth Street Metromover station that carries shoppers to the mall and luxury apartment dwellers to the airport. In a precedent-setting arrangement with Miami officials, Swire renovated the station and will manage and maintain it for the next 98 years.

Buy when the market is down, goes the saying, and Swire did that in Brickell City. When ground broke on their project, the housing market was in collapse and new-but-empty condos were as numerous in Miami as empanada shops. Early indications are that Swire’s timing was good. Eduardo Pruna, director of sales for Reach and Rise, Brickell City’s two apartment towers, says sales are brisk among wealthy South Americans looking for luxe digs in Miami.

Indeed, my limo driver from the airport told me that living near South Beach is yesterday, and that people with some money want a sophisticated, urban living experience with access to shopping and top restaurants. “I pick them up and run them to the beach in 10 to 15 minutes,” he said.

Miami is happy the Hong Kong-based developer crossed to their shores. Interviewed by the Miami Sun Sentinel when Brickell City opened a year ago, Alyce Robertson, executive director of the Miami Downtown Development Authority, pronounced her blessing on the site. “This destination is — and I don’t wanna overuse the word — pivotal,” she said.

Al Urbanski
[email protected], @AlUrbanski (Twitter)

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