BY SAM VISE, Founder and CEO, RMS – Retail Management Software
TODAY’S innovative retailers know that staying ahead of the curve with strategic retail merchandising is more important than ever. Between savvy customers that increasingly expect customized in-store experiences and solutions, and the fight for consumers in today’s competitive, omnichannel environment, understanding not only how to drive results and in-store growth today—but also in the near-future—is increasingly becoming critical. Among the many significant changes the retail industry has experienced in recent years, the integration of data is one that is becoming a driving force in the evolution of the industry.
A new era: data driven store profiling
Store-related data is abundant and comes in many forms and from various sources. Store design teams have physical data around the design, construction, size of fixtures, number of windows and counters per store. Marketing teams also have a significant amount of data—think of the four Ps, then layer in additional information such as demographics (age and gender), seasonality, purchasing decisions and other physical factors that can be associated with your stores. Additional sources of powerful data can also be found within Operations, HR and online teams.
With the mass amounts of data that we have available to us today, the options to pull data in from other non-related sources is significant. Google Trends, Google Search, shopper tracking using Bluetooth, and heat mapping are some of the basic tools retailers can utilize to build data for their stores. Despite the benefits of having all that information at our fingertips, it can be daunting to think about where to start, or how to use and leverage all the data available.
An integrated solution
While many apps provide value and insight for retailers, the reality is there isn’t one app that can do it all. As a result, many retailers are now relying on a single platform that incorporates third party apps as a way to streamline those insights and capture them in one place along with all other relevant information such as store-specific planograms and store audit information, among many others. Platforms such as Unefi’s Retail Management Software (RMS) have an application program interface (API) that can integrate with business platforms such as SAP and Oracle, link to sales forecasts pulled from tools such as Salesforce, all while pulling data from Google Search, Google Analytics, and Google Trends, and from collaborating tools such as Json. Further, those data-driven insights can be coupled with behaviour insights and trends such as shopper traffic patterns, customer engagement at the store level (including digital brochures, and lift and touch) and marketing platforms such as Marketo, resulting in a powerful profiling and predictive modeling tool.
As organizations increasingly adopt technology platforms to deliver a superior in-store customer experience, companies like RMS work with clients on creating a culture that sets them up for success. While many companies are digitally-focused and nimble—requirements to successfully engage today’s consumer—thought needs to be given to how to effectively incorporate a unified platform for store communications, how to assess and break down internal barriers, who to involve from within the organization—and when—in order to maximize success, and how all stakeholders can effectively work together to achieve shared goals. More and more retailers are realizing the business imperative of leveraging data and operating with full visibility and integrated communications across their organizations. Only then can management systems and departmental silos work together cohesively, and the adoption of dedicated retail technology platforms will help retailers make that shift.
A digital and personalized future
In today’s competitive world where the customer experience is paramount and store-based sales growth is an utmost priority, the ability to integrate data and leverage the insights gleaned in order to tailor store design, go-to-market strategy and campaign execution is increasingly defining success. Given the role that physical retail plays in building brand affinity, and the growing power and influence of data, the vital role technology is playing as a driver of success will continue to grow. As critical as the integration of data is to retailers today, in the not-so-distant future, platforms such as RMS will be able to utilize data in real-time, resulting in a planning and execution tool more powerful than what we can imagine today. The future is bright for both retailers and consumers.