Customer-centric retail: deep analytics & deep insights for execution

Customer-centric retail used to be the prerogative of just the large retailer, based mostly on how a few big players went about their analytics — using teams of several hundred people to sort out trends and insights from their loyalty data. The fault in this thinking and practice is that it is dependent upon manpower, scalable only at cost.

In my first blog titled JDA and dunnhumby tout “Insights and Execution.” Where have I heard that before?, I responded to a JDA press release wherein JDA mentions “a first-of-its-kind one-stop insight and execution capability.” As I mentioned in that first, blog, Symphony Retail Solutions has been moving companies from insights to action since 2012. Here are just a few examples of how our philosophy underpins the solutions we develop.

Customer-centric retail for all

Customer-centric retail used to be the prerogative of just the large retailer, based mostly on how a few big players went about their analytics — using teams of several hundred people to sort out trends and insights from their loyalty data. The fault in this thinking and practice is that it is dependent upon manpower, scalable only at cost.

As a result of machine learning, artificial intelligence and taking what was in the heads of a few and building this intelligence and best practice into software, customer-centric retail is now a real option for more retailers. Symphony EYC counts, for example, on Albertsons (a US$65 billion company) and REWE (a €52.4 billion company), this you may expect. But by taking a software-first approach, we are also proud to see our solutions being deployed by leading national retailers such as Hy-Vee and Giant Eagle.

Leading the market with cloud-based solutions… with customers to prove it

When you break retail down into its various functional roles such as merchandising, marketing, store operations, supply chain, etc., there’s an obvious and big hole. A need for customer-centric assortment and space capability. That’s why we decided to develop, from the ground-up, a cloud-based, customer-centric version that is superior to what’s available in the market. A tall claim? To support this assertion, I can tell you that we had many tens of customers in the first year after we released this capability into production, and a significant amount of demand beyond this.

With this model, we enable the critical connection of the frontend and backend. Tying customer-centric decisions and merchandising in pricing promotions to the supply chain is something we are doing now in Symphony Retail Cloud. This transformation we’ve done — putting everything in the cloud, making it so easily available — is the reason that customers are coming to us. In the last two years, this trend has been significantly growing. I feel confident saying that this will likely take our competition two to three years to approach.

Timely data is the only useful data

Symphony EYC takes a different approach. We’re not about syndicated data or panel data. The customer-centric retail business model is very different. It provides the depth of analytics and depth of understanding around customer behavior. This is how retailers and brands make informed decisions. Behavior analysis has allowed our clients to look at their customer behavior weekly. The big difference here is that most retailers only give us data once week. So, we get the data on a Saturday and we give them the prior week’s performance on Monday. Our competitors can give a week’s performance on Monday as well, but for data that is two weeks older or more. That’s the time to intelligence impact of processing data with software vs. processing it with people.

In addition to our superior speed in delivering insights, our customer contact solution can deploy offers in real time, directly linking customers’ on-line behavior or location to trigger campaigns that instantly reach customers at the peak time of influence.

With the speed of business today, making decisions or reaching out to customers based on stale data that’s two weeks old is a significant handicap when compared to making decisions from data that’s fresh. Symphony EYC’s ability here sets it apart from others.

New entrants, daily disruption

There’s no doubt. There are daily disruptors and new entrants in the marketplace. Take the recent news of Amazon and Whole Foods as, perhaps, the best, nascent signal of the unpredictable future. This is why I believe that partnerships, like JDA and dunnhumby, are surfacing right now. They are now seeing what we’ve seen and acted upon for the last five years.

In my third and final blog in this series, I’ll cover off a few key areas around how we’re innovating and leading, keeping us several steps ahead of our competitors.

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