TECHNOLOGY

Top Five Ways to Apply Advanced Analytics and AI

BY Keri Brooke

Analytics, and in many cases spreadsheets, has been the bastion of the back office for retailers and consumer products companies for years — understanding volumes, margins, geographic performance, and SKUs. But recently, something fundamental has changed. Executives are pushing for the next level of analytics to uncover the hidden opportunities in data to create powerful and differentiated product, customer, and brand experiences.

Why? It’s because the competitive game has changed. Customer service has now become as crucial to customer loyalty as the product itself. Customers expect seamless personalized experiences, in-store, online, across channels, and SKUs.

The challenge is that traditional analytics hasn’t kept up, with analysts overwhelmed by so many different customer journeys, a spiraling variety of products, and the need to connect signals from service, social, and other channels. It’s not only about applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to tease out opportunities in data, but breaking analytics out of the back office, and putting actionable insights in the hands of those at the frontline like field reps, service agents, logistics and category managers.

Here are five ways retailers and CPG companies can apply the latest analytics to compete smarter:

1. Uncover the hidden opportunities customer value
Whether it’s proximity or service in retail, or trust and price in CPG, understanding and acting on the drivers of loyalty is foundational. In a consumer survey of 14,700 adults, 40% said they make repeat purchases but are not loyal to a company, according to a Facebook IQ Survey. Last year, McKinsey found that companies who understand their customers and the best channels to reach them outperform their category by up to 16 percentage points.

Getting there means not only integrating marketing, sales and service data, but applying the latest AI and machine learning capabilities to analyze data across not just a handful of dimensions, but tens or hundreds of attributes — and that means guiding analysts on precisely where to drill down, asking the next questions, and using machine intelligence to help answer questions they didn’t think to ask.

2. Shift up product pricing and promotion planning
If your analytics for designing promotions hasn’t moved way beyond the SKU to target customers based on segment, then you’re leaving money on the table. With a wealth of data now available across all the channels of engagement, from the web to store, retailers can tap data science to help define better-performing promotions based on detailed customer behavioral and geographic trends, while also finding the optimal pricing to ensure they’re not leaving money on the table.

3. Tap the hidden lever of customer experience: inventory management
Consumers want online visibility into in-stock items at nearby stores, online ordering, with in-store pickup, and expect frictionless, low or no-cost ease of return — regardless of buying channel. Gathering purchasing data from web and store channels, AI/ML algorithms can identify purchasing patterns by geography, season or other dimensions drives more optimal regional and distribution center specific inventory decisions.

4. Setup the sales team to identify product and account whitespace
With extensive product catalogs, product variations, and operating on accelerated product lifecycles, it’s easy for CPG sales teams to miss opportunities to drive more value from current distributors or retailers. With modern analytics embedded in their everyday sales apps, CPG field reps can instantly see all their accounts, the products they’ve already purchased, and filter them by geography, product family, industry or more to focus their efforts, and get recommendations on where and what to sell next.

5. Tighten up the slack in retail execution
Optimizing the “last mile” from shelf to shopping cart is one of the biggest opportunities for retail and CPG alike. Done right, analytics can provide CPG field reps with a more intelligent experience from the recommendations on the right stores to visit based on drive time and opportunity, to actionable intelligence into the most impactful planograms to use in-store.

For example, Bain Insights references a case in which data supported a brand’s negotiations for more shelving real estate: “By arming its account managers with the information that the brand’s 30% share of shelf space was significantly lower than its 50% overall market share, one brand was better able to negotiate with store owners for more space.”

For CPGs and retailers alike, the age of the customer creates new challenges and incredible opportunities. With more SKUs, more customer journeys, changing consumer preferences and more distribution channels than ever, companies are turning to AI-driven insight that provides recommendations and prescriptions for the right strategies. And they’re looking to break analytics out of the back-office and put actionable data-driven decision making in the hands of everyone. What’s the next step you’ll take on your analytics journey to transform your customer experiences?

Keri Brooke is VP of product marketing for Einstein Analytics at Salesforce.

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TECHNOLOGY

Groceryshop’s final agenda includes stellar lineup of speakers

BY Marianne Wilson

Groceryshop, the new event for innovation in grocery and consumer packaged goods, has released its final agenda, which includes a lineup of more than 180 speakers that range from the VP of digital operations for Walmart to the founder and CEO of Instacart.

Other speakers include the chief digital officer of Kroger Co., the CEO of Boxed, the president of retail and shopping for Google and the VP of global e-commerce for General Mills. The final speaker lineup can be seen at Groceryshop.com/speakers.

Groceryshop will be held on October 28-31, 2018 at the Aria in Las Vegas. It is estimated to sell out at with more than 1,750 attendees, including more than 250 C-level executives and 135 CEOs. Now in first year, Groceryshop is already the world’s largest conference for innovation in grocery and CPG.

The companies attending Groceryshop include both established and startup CPG brands, supermarkets, c-stores, drug stores, discount stores, e-commerce players, warehouse clubs, grocerants and non-traditional grocery retailers. These organizations will join tech companies, real estate operators, investors and analysts to understand the disruptive new trends, technologies and business models they must now embrace to win in a rapidly changing industry.

Groceryshop was founded by the team that created Shoptalk, which has grown into one of the world’s largest conferences for retail and ecommerce, attracting approximately 8,400 attendees to its third annual event, which was held earlier this year.

Similar to Shoptalk, Groceryshop is establishing a new community of today’s leaders and emerging leaders of the future with a wide range of job titles that include digital and e-commerce, marketing, technology, merchandising, supply chain and store operations. The event will address shared challenges and opportunities relating to the evolution of how consumers shop for products ranging from food and beverage to health, beauty, personal care, household and pet supplies.

“Groceryshop’s agenda covers the critical trends and technologies transforming grocery and CPG in a digital age,” said Zia Daniell Wigder, co-founder and chief content officer of Groceryshop. “These perspectives are shared in more than 75 main stage and track sessions by an unparalleled lineup of over 180 speakers, empowering the industry as it continues through a period of disruptive change.”

The agenda for Groceryshop includes a wide range of formats, including track sessions, main stage keynotes, startup pitches, research and market insights and workshops. Extensive coverage of next-generation technologies will be featured during virtually every session. A few of the areas of covered in depth during the event will include artificial intelligence, robotics, fulfillment and logistics, e-commerce, physical stores, supply chain, sourcing, food waste, marketing and more.

Groceryshop’s 2018 final agenda is available at: Groceryshop.com/agenda.

More than 160 companies are sponsoring Groceryshop, and more than 300 individuals from retailers and brands have enrolled in Groceryshop’s Hosted Retailers & Brands Program, which will facilitate some 2,000 onsite meetings for retailers and brands with established and emerging providers of technology and other solutions.

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: Mobile to dominate online holiday sales

BY Marianne Wilson

The forecast for holiday 2018 is…mobile.

Smartphones will account for 68% of all e-commerce visits during the upcoming holiday shopping season, according to new research from Salesforce. More orders and visits to online sites will be made on phones than any other device.

Cyber Week will account for 40% of the entire season’s online sales, up 8% from 2017, the report noted, and e-commerce traffic from Instagram will increase 51% over last holiday season. AI-based product recommendations will drive 35% of all holiday revenue.

“Mobile is undoubtedly the most disruptive force in retail since the onset of e-commerce,” said Rick Kenney, head of consumer insights, Salesforce. “We’ll see more visits from phones this season than total e-commerce visits across the entire 2015 shopping season. And even those in-store shoppers are mobile — 83% of shoppers aged 18-44 are using their phones while in a physical store.”

Here are the key takeaways from Salesforce’s 2018 Holiday Seasons Predictions and insights report:

• Cyber Week — the seven-day period beginning the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving (Nov. 22) and running through Cyber Monday — will account for 40% of all digital revenue for the shopping season globally. Black Friday will again be the top digital shopping day of the season, capturing 10% of the season’s revenue, while Cyber Monday will contribute 8% of sales.

• The top five digital shopping days (ranked by global revenue) will be Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Sunday, Thanksgiving and Cyber Saturday.

• Fifty percent of holiday shopping will be complete by Dec. 2, a day earlier than the 2017 holiday season.

• For the first time during the holiday season, shoppers will place more orders from their phones than computers or tablets. Mobile phones will account for 46% of all orders, edging out computers (44%), and far outpacing tablets (9%):

• Mobile will deliver 68% of all e-commerce traffic this season, an all-time high, which reflects 19% year-over-year growth.

• Mobile traffic share will peak on Christmas Eve, when shoppers will turn to their phones to make 72% of all visits and 54% of orders.

• Free shipping will prove to be a mandate this season, as 72% of all orders will ship for free, a slight increase over last year.

• Instagram will emerge this holiday season as the fastest-growing social channel for referring digital traffic to retail sites. Instagram traffic will grow 51% year-over-year, while Facebook will see a 7% decline. Health and beauty shoppers are the most likely to tap from Instagram to an e-commerce site.

• AI-based product recommendations will drive more growth. Revenue driven from AI-powered product recommendations will grow by 25% since the 2017 holiday season AI-based product recommendations will drive 35% of all revenue.

“Retailers who infuse AI into the shopping experience can better understand customer needs and drive increased revenue with capabilities like personalized product recommendations,” said Kenney.

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