‘Retailing has always been called a combination of art and science but for much of its existence there’s usually been too much of the former and not enough of the latter.’ BARE shares an article by Warren Shoulberg for Forbes with customer experience analytics in retail.

‘However, more recently, the whole idea of better understanding the customer experience has allowed retailers to use research and predictive analytics to both better deal with their shoppers and position their stores, products and brands to become more successful.

Using data to run a business has always been a holy grail of retailing but the problem was converting abstracts into specific actionable activities. Now new third party companies like First Insight, Qualtrics and Medallia MDLA +4% have found ways to use numbers and statistics to create more customer-centric merchandising and products. They are even using analytics to help select and train retail employees.

But consultant jargon and terms are one thing: translating data into merchandising and management practices is much harder. Yet the examples of how this is being done are both insightful and often so eye-opening as to almost border on common sense once they are better understood. Consider these cases, supplied by First Insight, of how companies are helping retailers use customer experience analysis, not just after-the-fact questionnaires or bot-driven online surveys:

  • British chain Marks & Spencer analyzed its luggage sales and realized that the same product sold much better online than in-store. Working with an outside analytics company revealed that the duffle bag in question was shown fully stuffed online but empty and a bit crumpled in-store. By assigning a numerical value to each sale the retailer was able to understand it should show the bag stuffed in-store as well. As soon as it did, sales rose to match the online rate.
  • The same retailer wanted to compare gift coffee mugs that used realistic, somewhat dated photographs of pets with mugs that featured more artistic drawn renderings of the same pets. The test, again using quantifiable data, revealed the latter to be more contemporary and better sellers. The store soon converted its inventory and has been selling more mugs since.
  • Western-style boot retailer Dan Post wanted to understand how country of origin would impact the relative value of its products. It tested the same exact style boots at the same price but listed one as made in China, the other made in Mexico. Consumers perceived a lower value to the Chinese-made boots even though they were identical. The company then knew if it did move its production to China it would need to price its boots lower to reflect consumer sentiment.
  • Rue21 RUE0.0%used the current pandemic work-from-home conditions to reexamine its entire product development and testing process, eliminating physical samples sent from factories to its buying office and replacing them with sophisticated digital images. By streamlining the process it has saved time, saved money and allowed for a more efficient product development cycle.
  • Back at M&S, the retailer was introducing swimwear made of recycled polyester and wanted to know how to name the product and whether to play up the sustainability angle. It tested the same product under four different names and using data scoring found that calling attention to the eco-aspect resulted in a higher rate of sale than a more fashion-oriented brand.

Companies offering these services like to say it’s all about “understanding more through better listening.” It sounds simple but getting the data in the first place and then understanding how to apply it to your business is anything but. Analytics may not tell the entire story but retailers are finding they increasingly help with the narrative.’

 

Read the original article in full here.


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