Five ways Walmart uses big data
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.
Online giant explores ‘mobile’ drone launch pad
Amazon has lots of ideas about how drones can improve package deliveries, but they also need supportive facilities and operations.
In hopes of getting the ball rolling, the online giant has filed a patent application for “ground-based mobile maintenance facilities for unmanned aerial vehicles.” Simply put, these hubs would be dedicated to accommodating, loading, launching, receiving and maintaining the delivery drones.
According to a patent filing, which was recently published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Center, intermodal vehicles could be linked to locomotives, container ships, road tractors or other vehicles, and equipped with systems for loading one or more items onto the aerial vehicle. These hubs could also launch or retrieve drones while the vehicle is in motion.
The application also defines how these hubs will help maintain the delivery devices. For example, drones may be loaded with replacement parts and/or inspection equipment. They could also be configured to conduct repairs, servicing operations or inspections on drones within the intermodal vehicles while the train, ship or another hosting vehicle is in motion, according to the filing.
Amazon is not the first company to explore the concept of mobile hubs or launch pads. In February, UPS tested a program in Lithia, Florida, that launched an “octocopter drone” from atop of a UPS package car. The device was programmed to autonomously deliver a package to a home, and then return to the vehicle while the driver continues along the route to make a separate delivery.
British online fashion giant doubling down on the U.S.
As if American apparel retailers didn't have enough homegrown competition, ASOS, the largest online fashion retailer in the U.K., is making a major push into the American market.
The company has signed an agreement to establish its second North American fulfilment center, in Union City, Georgia, outside of Atlanta. The center, which has an initial investment of $40 million, will be able to handle 10 million items, with the opportunity to expand further. Construction is expected to begin shortly, with operations starting in fall 2018.
"This agreement is a major step forward for ASOS in the US and demonstrates the opportunity we believe lies ahead in this key market," said Nick Beighton, CEO, ASOS. "Our US business delivered 39% constant currency growth in the first six months of the current financial year. Our U.S. fulfilment centre will enable us to significantly develop our proposition for our 20-something US customers supporting our continued growth and future ambitions."
Founded in 2000, ASOS (which stands for "As Seen on Screen") targets young millennial men and women with affordable fast-fashion items and accessories. It features 85,000 different products (including 4,000 new styles every week) to 12.4 million active customers. About 40% of the mix comes from its own brand, and another 20% from exclusive items created for it by other brands. The rest is made up of items from both well-known labels and smaller ones.
According to Business Insider, U.S. sales make up 12% of ASOS's total sales globally, and are growing twice as fast as U.K. sales. The retailer is looking to capitalize on that growth with its new distribution center.
"This fulfilment centre will significantly enhance ASOS' US customer proposition providing more cost effective, faster and more flexible delivery options," the company stated.
The company currently has a market cap of about five billion British pounds, or around $6.5 billion. Sales totaled about $1.8 billion in 2016. With eight local language websites, ASOS sells to customers in the U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Russia.