What does the future have in store for the data-driven retailer?

What does the future have in store for the data-driven retailer?


In this episode, IBM’s very own Graeme Noseworthy (@graemeknows), a senior content marketing manager with IBM Analytics, interviewed Carol Spieckerman, also known as the Retail Expert. Carol, a thought leader in the retail industry, serves as president of Spieckerman Retail, providing strategic retail consulting, training and speaking services. In this interview, Carol described the ways that she sees data analytics transforming the retail industry, peeking into her crystal ball for a glimpse at what data-driven retailers can expect in 2016 and beyond.

The rapid progress being made in the world of big data analytics is directly affecting retail, not least by causing some very interesting shifts in the industry. Retailers might once have felt overwhelmed by the endless amount of data coming at them, unequipped with tools for managing the influx, let alone making sense of it all. But analytics capabilities have come a long way since then. Modern businesses enjoy access to a variety of intuitive, user-friendly and flexible analytics tools that evolve to meet the changing demands of the industry. Now, say retailers, bring on the big data!

Tools such as Watson Analytics are integral to the progress of data science—not least because they offer freemium versions available for use by anyone anywhere at any time, putting powerful analytic capabilities into the hands of everyone who can use them. Business data is also becoming more available than ever, easily accessible in a variety of forms—weather data and social media data prominent among them. The costs of data storage technology, moreover, are dropping steadily, and secure cloud resources are becoming abundant.

In 2016, then, the must-have differentiator for retailers will be customer-centric personalization, ever more targeted as retailers tap into internal and external data, known preferences and social media analytics in their quest to understand and delight customers. Predictive analytics will also help stores find out what customers will want—and when they’ll want it—with an uncanny degree of certainty. And who could forget the Internet of Things, which will revolutionize the retail store of the future, with sensor-oriented devices enabling a detailed and targeted focus on customers? By 2020, we can expect to see futuristic technology making inroads in the forms of augmented reality, beacons, and anonymous analytical face detectors—each such technology doing its part in immersing customers in the shopping experience.

To learn more about Carol Spieckerman and her work, check out her blog, Retail Insights, or follow her @retailxpert. Then learn more about how IBM solutions are transforming retail. When you do, comment below, reach out to us @IBMAnalytics or connect with our host, Aylee Nielsen (@AyleeNielsen) to tell us what you see in the future of retail.