Infusing Analytics into Physical Retail Stores

Brandon Schulz, Director, Retail Vertical, Luxoft [NYSE:LXFT]
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Brandon Schulz, Director, Retail Vertical, Luxoft [NYSE:LXFT]

With the growing customer demands, players in the retail industry are leveraging advanced eCommerce platforms to enhance shopping experience. The capability of eCommerce platforms to record users’ browsing history in retail cloud environments for displaying similar products on screen, when shoppers return to the website, has personalized shopping for each user.

With the exact aim in mind, the brick and mortar retail stores are deploying infrastructure to gather data about customer behavior and preferences—their most visited path, section, and brand. The data gathered from disparate sources are then analyzed for an in-depth understanding of customer choices, which has led to an increased deployment of analytics tools in the retail sector.

Significance of Planning

The idea behind implementing analytics in retail stores is to obtain a 360 degree understanding of customer preferences by means of self-managed active responses. These insights could spur a more productive engagement of the customers in physical retail stores in an individualized manner. While it enhances the shopping experience to the visitors by a huge quantum, implementation of the plan has a fair amount of complexity associated with it. This requires the CIOs to brainstorm adequately to plan the implementation for avoiding any major pitfalls.

Implementing analytics could involve merging numerous teams and systems so as to eliminate any inherent redundancy in operations; this however, could potentially disrupt the operations. A successful implementation is also dependent on a clear understanding of the data that is likely to flow into the retail cloud from disparate data sets. As the data in the retail cloud is likely to be shared with the partners and vendors, companies with retail as the core line of business need clarity on their vendors and the likely members of their partner communication network for marketing their goods. Dividing workload and responsibilities among partners and vendors for workforce optimization to maximize the effectiveness of operations is also crucial. Analyzing the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or sales performance by time or even workforce too, needs to be factored.

The numerous factors concerned with implementation necessitate the CIOs to plan accordingly for implementing the project.

Pondering over Retail Data Security

Tracking of customer preferences in physical retail stores has led to the inflow of humongous amounts of data into the retail sector and this has presented a new challenge with respect to data security. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to address this; retail organizations are required to deploy appropriate strategies to safeguard their environments by employing security informatics. With the onset of new age systems like the ones running on Internet of Things (IoT) and Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or Vision-based Approach in the sector, retailers are looking at multiple data security policies and standards. This is likely to scale further as more disruptive forces like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Sensors make inroads into retail stores. It is imperative for companies to prioritize data security in the retail environment and integrate the security informatics with workflow.

Forces Disrupting Retail Sector in Future

While AI and Sensor technology are viewed as major disrupters, the intelligence specific trends such as Micro AI are being looked at as promising areas. Also, home cluster interfaces like the tools based on Bottom-up evaluation for ADTree Induction (BOAI), a machine learning algorithm and Micro BOAI are expected to impact the retail sector for good, in the next two years. This calls for retailers to stay on par with all changes in technology, an area that CIOs will have to emphasize on.