Data Retailers Can Use Now

Mobile crowdsourcingHere are three keys to in-store data retailers can use now. By Mike Grimes


Retail is one of the most data-driven businesses on the planet. Point of sale (POS), store-level foot traffic, merchandising compliance, customer loyalty, inventory, mobile, video, beacons, sensors, lasers …

OK, maybe not lasers, but you get the idea. Retailers don’t need more data, but with e-commerce sales set to top $27 trillion in 2020 according to eMarketer, in-store data is vital to helping brick-and-mortar stores optimize their increasingly valuable physical space.

Brick-and-mortar retailers need data direction: the right kinds of data, combined in the right ways, and presented in a format that both store operations and the head of merchandising can use right now. The goal of every B&M data initiative should be to increase visibility in-store, so retailers can improve the customer experience, simplify inventory management, boost shelf health, better (or re-) train sales associates and react to customer sentiment – at scale, and in near-real time.

It’s a lofty goal but here are three keys to data retailers can use to optimize their stores today.

Data should be systemic

No single data point stays relevant for long in today’s omni-channel environment. Customers bounce from channel to channel on the path to purchase. Demographics shift. And like any good research, scalable, affordable and repeatable results are best measured over time.

The “last mile” of store performance – the shelf – was previously considered “offline” and not systemically available. Today, both retailers and brands can use mobile crowdsourcing, RFID tags and mounted sensors to capture shelf health data over time, to better regulate inventory, pricing and presentation.

Chomps Snack Sticks, a grass-fed, healthy alternative to jerky snacks, is a great example. Chomps recently used mobile crowdsourcing to explore how its packaging appeared on shelves. Over time, the brand discovered store associates were inadvertently destroying their display boxes because corrugated tops were difficult to remove. As a result, Chomps is now systemically testing new packaging designs with better perforation.

Data should be visual

Most of the population (65 percent) are visual learners, according to the Social Science Research Network. Data visualization is critical not just in the academic world, but in business as well. Retailers should say goodbye to data locked in spreadsheets, and hello to real-time graphics that help business users analyze and act quickly and decisively.

Data visualization will become even more important as the Internet of Things (IoT) expands the number of retail data sources. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms have pioneered the eloquent, data and analytics dashboard, and we expect these platforms to continue to replace legacy data management systems.

Data should be integrated

In-store, “offline” data is just as important as sales, revenue and other online data collected by a retailer, but integration is key—they’re all interdependent. By layering data streams, retailers can not only assess the current health of their stores, but also forecast trends for better business decisions in the long-term.

To start, retailers should consider integrating a few basic data flows:

* POS and other sales data

* Market research

* Store traffic

* Associate training

* Merchandising compliance

Picture competitive analysis, and performance information on product displays, adjacencies, and more, delivered and layered on top of other data streams in real-time to create a 360-degree view of the shopping experience. Better still? Include your brand manufacturer partners in these analyses and action plans.

Data You Can Act On

Imagine you’re a merchandiser for Walmart. With systemic, visual and integrated sales and merchandising data, you discover you must improve display compliance for consumer electronics brands to agreed-upon levels, versus your current 28 percent revenue shortfall.

In another scenario, your data indicates you must retrain 35 percent of your key locations whose store associates are completely unaware of the current seasonal promotion, which expires in two weeks.

Retailers need more than incremental data to increase the performance of their stores. But with integrated data, collected systemically and presented in easy-to-read actionable dashboard views, retailers hold the keys to making brick-and-mortar an immensely valuable part of the omni-channel experience.

Mike Grimes is chief revenue officer (CRO) at Mobee, an offline data and insights platform that uses crowdsourcing to collect, organize and analyze consumer data at scale. With more than 25 years of experience building digital solutions for retail-centric organizations, Grimes leads Mobee’s go-to-market strategy, sales and business development efforts.

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