Retailers who embrace the modern cross-channel shopper can become customer driven

General Manager, Distribution Sector (Retail, CPG, Travel & Transportation), IBM Netezza & Big Data Platforms

In talking to customers, analysts and partners at the National Retail Federation “Big Show” last week, it was clear to me that retailers are trying to find the “holy grail” in the cross-channel retailing environment that offers “one view of the customer across all channels.” Power has shifted to consumers as shoppers use multiple devices to price-compare and use the store as a place that offers them convenience, instant access and price efficiency, but not much more. Loyalty seems to be a thing of the past. While trying out the latest Android tablet, a customer will price compare from the very premises of the retailer, and then make the optimal decision, bearing in mind price, convenience and access. To add insult to the injury, they may be on Facebook or Twitter instantly, and send out positive or negative tweets about a store; information that may permeate the web before the retailer can react. The world of retail is evolving fast and as mobile shopping becomes mainstream, retailers need the best possible means to build relationships with consumers that result in clear and measurable profits.

What makes this challenging is that traditional systems that have attempted to gain an understanding of the customer have been restricted, slow and unable to scale. These systems deal with data through analytical systems and processes that require data movements to other systems, which are cumbersome and running on platforms that are unable to scale. The modern cross-channel world requires efficient, auto-scaling platforms that are able to adapt and self-tune to massive volumes of data. All of these new channels show so much more about the customer, including how they shop, when they shop, what they like to shop for, and other key behaviors that result in a profound understanding of the customer. A self-scaling, self-modulating platform is a necessity to deal with the data being captured.

Retailers who embrace the change will thrive and see enormous efficiencies in their ability to run campaigns. As retailers piece together my purchase behavior, preferences and propensity to buy their products and add in my physical location, they will have real-time information about where I am, who I am and what I like. “Bargains” take on a new meaning, as interaction is not between me and the shop keeper willing to bargain as I look to get a “deal.” Instead, interaction is between retail systems that intelligently generate offers, triggered because I am in the vicinity of a store that has inventory around a product that I really want. Offers are triggered dynamically, generated through analytical systems mining my behavior and providing access to products I want to purchase at an attractive price. This is the exciting world of retail; competitive, dynamic, insightful and always changing.

Being “customer driven” has been the mantra for the last several years, but how does a retailer become truly customer driven. They become customer driven when they are able to clearly leverage customer behavior in shaping every one of their overall strategic activities, from product development, to marketing, to merchandising to their supply chain--every aspect of their process needs to be customer driven. As most shoppers engage multiple channels to make purchases, retailers have multiple access points to tap in to valuable and rich insights about each shopper that can enable them to truly become customer driven. They have an opportunity to create segments based on behavior, not just demographics, and they are in a position to turn the shopping experience into a much more effective and profitable experience for themselves and the shopper.

IBM® and Netezza® are building solutions to tackle this very issue, understanding customers across channels. Combining the latest and most advanced analytical technology, we have created a solution that is gaining enormous traction in the market by integrating IBM’s latest assets around “Big Data” and Netezza’s core capabilities around analytics delivered through an easy-to-use and simple-to-deploy appliance. For more information about IBM and Netezza’s solution read the whitepaper: Customer Intelligence Appliance - An appliance-based joint solution for omni-channel customer analytics from IBM and Aginity

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