business intelligence in retail industry

Over the last few years, Deloitte has popularised this phrase called “Insight Driven Organisation” or IDO for short. The idea revolves around democratising access to data and insights across the company, so decision-makers across all operational layers are able to leverage the power of analytics to make better decisions.  

One industry where this has become extremely important is retail; Brick and mortar retailers rely heavily on modern technology to compete against large e-commerce giants with billions of dollars at their disposal.  

A BI expert at Merit adds, “Traditional retailers are embracing everything from automation and analytics to make better decisions on pricing, supply chain management, marketing campaign planning, and financial management. In fact, I would say they are no longer traditional. They are rapidly embracing digital and analytics tools to stay ahead of the curve and evolve rapidly in a highly competitive world.”  

The Value of Customer Data 

Of course, needless to say, the core of any analytics engine in the retail industry involves customer information and data. This is true for e-commerce players as well, who have to experiment and come up with innovative ideas to get “closer to customers” who like the touch-and-feel of brick-and-mortar retail but prefer e-commerce for the convenience of delivery and price advantage it offers.  

Additionally, in today’s world, customer loyalty cannot be taken for granted. Retailers have to be able to meet their demand for low-priced, socially responsible, high-quality products. The customers seek consistency and speed when engaging with retailers across multiple channels. They have access to information on products, their performance, price comparisons, and reviews, and so their choices are no longer based on habit but on data.  

This has made it imperative for retailers to track the changing preferences of the consumers and the market trends. Based on findings, they must be able to customise product design, marketing, and delivery to improve customer delight. 

Retail BI: Decision-Making around both products and consumers  

Aiding retail businesses to navigate this complex world of retail and grow faster is business intelligence (BI). Using BI, retailers can identify trends, solve problems, and gain insights. It can help assess the competitive landscape, improve the supply chain, and increase operational efficiency. It can help plan your staffing needs based on predicted demand, scaling up or down in-store teams accordingly.  

Using the power of analytics and business intelligence, retailers can constantly fine-tune their strategies to strengthen successful ones and wean out or correct the ones that are not giving the desired results. 

Some of the key areas where business intelligence can help retailers include: 

Launching and Managing Stores 

BI can help identify areas where there is demand for your retail products and select the ideal place to set up shop. It can also help to monitor the performance of the store in terms of sales, inventory, profits, and regulations and identify the factors that are contributing to its success or failure. This can help implement corrective action and optimise processes for greater success. 

Capture Customer Behaviour In-Store and Online 

Whether it is a physical store or an online outlet, BI can help analyse customer behaviour when shopping. It can help to track their footsteps based on heat maps, identify sections that generated greater interest (and those that did not), and spot products that didn’t meet buyer expectations.  

Armed with this information, the retailer can decide on how to modify the layout (or categorisation of menus, in the case of e-commerce) to provide uniform visibility to all the products in the store. This can help with improved product classification for faster discoveries. 

Upselling and Cross-Selling  

Armed with business intelligence insights, e-marketplaces, and retail outlets can provide product recommendations to upsell and cross-sell products.  

Manage Supply Chain Complexities 

One of the keys to successful retail operation is having effective and efficient merchandising. BI can help retailers identify under-performing inventory and out-of-stock products and create the right product mix. It can help meet seasonal variations and plan the logistics and transport of the right products at the right time. 

Improve Competitive Advantage 

Business intelligence in the retail industry can also be used to track competitors, and their performance, benchmark your performance against them see where you stand, and forecast future comparative growth.  

It can help do a SWOT analysis and reveal areas that need improvement. This can also help with optimising costs, increasing profitability, responding to trends quickly, and improve productivity and overall performance. 

Monitor Social Media Behavior 

Sentiment analysis is fast gaining importance for retail businesses, making the tracking of social media channels very important. Reviews, comments, complaints, and compliments can today be successfully extracted and analysed to understand users better and help with strategic planning.  

To be able to arrive at these insights, business intelligence tools pull together data from a variety of sources such as POS systems, sales reports, financial reports, in-store video cameras, mobile devices, sensors to count footfalls, weather reports to predict traffic to the store, time and attendance systems to manage staff and their breaks, and promotional calendars to help track any special discounts and campaigns. 

How Merit can help with your Retail Data and BI Journey  

Merit Group is a data specialist with a focused retail practice. Our state-of-the-art retail and e-commerce data harvesting engine collects raw data from multiple sources. Our ethical scraping process is three to four times faster than standard scrapers and more cost-effective. It offers greater accuracy, up to 30% compared to standard scrapers. It can gather massive data sets from multiple sites and geographies in real-time to empower retailers with information on customer behaviour and market trends.  

Our e-commerce data engine provides enriched data as well as rich SKU detail: including product variants, pricing, availability, discounts, product rankings, reviews, images, and regulatory details.  

We enhance data confidence by detecting issues in real-time allowing us to fix issues quickly and eliminate unnecessary processing. Merit’s retail engine allows the onboarding of new e-commerce data sources in minutes instead of days. It can be connected to AWS S3, Azure data lake, FTP, Dropbox and more and scale optimally to meet demand using a cloud-agnostic approach.  

To know more about our Retail Data capabilities, visit:

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