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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Social Analytics Transforming Retail Business Planning

Correspondent Armen Najarian at DemandTec posts an excellent piece: Four Ways Social Analytics will Transform Retail Business Planning.  Read his list of four dimensions of transformation. 

I heartily agree.  Let me take it further.  While it is not just about using technology,  it is about how you can link key participants via communications to key improvement processes.  In the past this was just about emailing a list of people,  but that is no longer enough.  Now, using methods pioneered in social networks, we can attach processes like optimization and improvement analytics to groups of people as well.   Its now in real time, with the assistance of predictive analytics. 

So what is the value of this 'social analytics'?    Many examples are possible:  A process that alerts retailers to changes in profitability at the shelf.  A prediction of impending out-of-stock.   An optimization that dynamically changes a promotional offer.   A historical loyalty database that suggests how a particular offer, based in part on a shopper's location, should be adjusted to their needs.  An in-store display that can be adjusted based on local demographic conditions at a market.  And many more potential ideas.

This new form of  social analytics includes the shopper.  They provide communications as well, via their shopping behavior, their interaction and feedback.   As the shopper becomes armed with powerful smartphone communications and scanning sensors, the potential just increases.   Retail can dynamically react to the full context of the shopper experience. 

So the social analytic network will increasingly include all the players.  Employees, vendor partners, analysts, shoppers .... AND processes that will alert the network to changes in the retail system.  The near real-time dynamics have great potential.   Companies like Armen Najarian's DemandTec can lead the way by providing more analytical methods and retail expertise to the mix.   We approach a heady future of enabling analytics.

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