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RESOURCES CATEGORY: Retail

Big Data is Transforming the Retail Industry

Retailers have experienced seismic changes last decade with their ways to engage the customers. People used to only go to brick-and-mortar stores to shop. Now it is the age of omni-channels from stores to ecommerce sites and mobile devices. Customers are also more active and vocal than ever to let their opinion known to their fellow shoppers and retailers through social media sites such as Yelp. This presents huge challenges and opportunities to retailers as an enormous amount of data have been collected and can be analyzed to gain critical insights to support retailers in their endeavors for product innovation, personalized customer experience, cross-channel merchandizing and efficient inventory management. Big Data is a perfect solution to address these challenges, providing the retailers who are forward looking and investing in the technology great competitive advantages.

CHALLENGES

Retail is a highly competitive and thin-margin industry. Customers are becoming more and more sophisticated in how they spend their money. Retailers are facing multitude of challenges to capture large market share and retain customers’ loyalty.

  • Retailers need to be able to anticipate demand, ensure availability of products in the right locations, price the merchandise optimally, attract customers by offering relevant and timely promotions and enhance customer experience with personalized customer services
  • Retailers need to provide a uniform, yet customized, shopping experience across multiple channels such as stores, online and mobile for cross selling and enhanced customer experience
  • Retailers need to know their customers in a holistic fashion in regards to their shopping patterns, product preference, money spent, demographics and past shopping experience
  • Retailers need to be in tune with the market trend and manage its inventory and supply chain to ensure that the right merchandising is available at the right time and right location

To meet these challenges, retailers need to mash up content and data from many disparate data sources, internal and external, and provide an actionable insights for the business to act on. The sheer volume of the data, large variety and uncertain veracity of the content make it a perfect use case for Big Data. Traditional business intelligence technologies just fall short of dealing with these challenges.

Built upon its extensive experience with the retail industry, PREDICTif has developed an innovative set of Big Data technologies to address those challenges to gain critical information, without burdening business users with hard-to-use tools or high IT costs. We are able to accomplish this by Partnering with the leading information discovery and big data technology company Oracle, by delivering highly customized solutions based on Oracle Big Data Discovery (BDD) and Endeca Information Discovery (OEID) technologies. These solutions are described in the below table:

What Why Who
Marketing and Consumer Engagement
  • More relevant and timely recommendations (in store and online)
  • Increased consumer loyalty and advocacy
  • More consistent cross-channel communication
Pinpont the customers that will likely buy through social media, purchase history, customer forums, demographic data, browsing patterns and customer loyalty data
Store Operations and Cross-channel Commerce
  • Improved On Shelf Availability performance
  • Better understanding of store conditions that impact shopper decisions
  • Improved cross-channel understanding of consumer shopping behavior
Determine the right inventory at the right locations for the right channels through trend prediction by analyzing industry news, web browsing patterns, social media and enterprise data
Product Innovation
  • Faster and more consumer-relevant generation of new product concepts
  • More successful new product launches
Create product bundles based on customer transactions, shopping patterns, demographic data, research data and local buzz and make relevant recommendations to customers
Consumer Engagement
  • More consistent cross-channel communication
  • More relevant and timely recommendations (in store and online)
  • Increased consumer loyalty and advocacy
  • Optimized marketing mix across B2B and B2C
Segment customers according to expected buying behavior and then contact them as they wish to be reached, when they are in the right location or they are engaged with personalized real-time offers

Equipped with our long history of successes with the retail industry, PREDICTif will deliver these value-added retail analytics solutions to enable our retail customers to capitalize on the big data solutions. Our engagement will start with a Retail Industry expert who will help produce a solution roadmap based on our pre-built templates and then deploy an implementation team that consists of highly skilled consultants to establish Big Data solutions for consumer insights. PREDICTif has helped transformed retail organizations to gain competitive advantages over their market rivals and achieve significantly high return on investment.

Flexible financial and operations reporting solution for Texas Grocer

NWS

A Texas grocer engages PREDICTif to deliver a flexible financial and operations reporting solution

CUSTOMER:

A regional chain of grocer, pharmacy and retail.

REQUIRED CAPABILITIES
Manage financial and operation reporting with different rules for different accounts, as well as for different business units; but with one final standardized output. Handle multiple hierarchies, centralized security and quick response times.
CHALLENGES

Operating over 100 supermarkets in both metropolitan and rural areas of Texas and Louisiana, the customer faced numerous challenges related to its financial and operational reporting as the company became reliant upon an inefficient, highly customized reporting application. The application was based on an antiquated and unsupported technology, Query 2000. Further compounding the difficulties associated with reporting on a customized system was the fact that the customer had no dedicated vendor support or experienced technical resources which in and of itself resulted in multiple technical limitations:

  • Difficult to create and maintain the reports;
  • Manual process required to generate reports;
  • No scheduling capabilities;
  • Reports couldn’t be published which causes duplication and inaccurate reports;
  • Was difficult to modify and reuse existing report templates;
  • Lack of templates resulted in longer cycles to develop new reports;
  • Generation of reports was slow as they were directly processed out of AS400 Mainframes;
  • There was no alerting and bursting capability to detect and manage business significant
  • events;
  • Legacy solution was burdensome as it related to the creation of ad hoc reports;
  • Did not support the customer’s data retention schedule and data cleansing; and
  • Newly developed reports can not be tested by users to ensure accuracy.

SCOPE

The objectives were to provide the customer the capability to accurately report on a timely basis, reuse templates and achieve self sufficiency after the project.

  • Deliver a financial reporting solution that leverages the TM1 9.4 OLAP engine and Cognos BI 8.4 report studio;
  • Automate the report process and make it easy for business users to create new and ad-hoc reports;
  • Provide training and knowledge transfer so that business users are self independent in terms of support and enhancement; and
  • Implement alerting and bursting capabilities to manage critical business events and support data retention process

SOLUTION

The customer acquired IBM’s Cognos BI 8.4 and TM1 9.4 to address the constraints of the legacy solution. The IBM Cognos suite provided the customer the flexibility to generate and reuse reports as well as the ability to automate report generation and alert/burst functionality for significant events.

After a thorough vendor selection process, PREDICTif was selected to implement an end-to-end reporting solution for the customer. The project encompasses the entire life cycle of software installation, configuration, customization, testing, implementation, user groups training and knowledge transfer. PREDICTif delivered the solution under budget and before the planned completion date.

  • Developed a comprehensive project plan with detailed scope and timelines;
  • Created business requirements documentation and technical requirements documents for the project;
  • Installed and configured Cognos 8.4 on DEV, QA and Production with QA and production being multi-server environments to improve performance and ensure redundancy (3 application servers, 2 web servers and 1 content server);
  • Converted all existing Query 2000 reports to Cognos reports using Report Studio, Query Studio, Analysis Studio and built cubes using Framework Manager Models;
  • Created 45 additional complex reports;
  • Developed and delivered the ability to create Ad hoc reporting;
  • Completed ETL Mapping (Fact builds and Dimension Builds) function using Data manager;
  • Designed and implemented a Datamart for the customer’s HR Department;
  • Consolidated/replaced a quandary of spreadsheets into one single company wide data entry by utilizing TM1;
  • Used F5 load balancers to conduct thorough load balance and fail-over testing to ensure the performance and robustness of the BI solution;
  • Provided thorough documentation of all the reports and user manuals; and
  • Offered training to both power users and end users on Query Studio, Report Studio and Analysis Studio.

RESULTS

PREDICTif’s TM1 solution streamlines the customer’s financial and operational reporting process and enables the customer to have accurate information at hands in order to make critical and timely business decisions.

  • The number of hours spent generating consolidated financial statements was reduced substantially allowing more time for analysis;
  • Multiple disparate business units were brought together under one streamlined reporting process, with a standardized company-wide output;
  • The comprehensive training and detailed documentation that the customer’s personnel received equipped the customer with the knowledge to support and maintain their system with minimal assistance from its IT support; and
  • PREDICTif helped establish best practices and project methodology within the customer’s organization that will benefit the customer in its future BI implementation projects.
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