Retail Actionable Insights… …and traditional Analytics

For Retailers, analytics tools – I think about reporting and BI applications, “Big Data”, etc. – are vital, priceless, competitive technologies that allow answering the following fundamental questions:

  • What types of Shoppers are visiting my stores?
  • What did catch their attention on the shop-floor?
  • What did they purchase in-store?
  • How many of them are repeat visitors?
  • Whom did they engage with? About what?
  • …and so on…

Now more than ever, retail is moving from a (mainly) instinct-based attitude towards a more data-driven, scientific approach.

An example: advanced analysis of SKU performance metrics today lets Retailers fine-tune merchandise assortments and promotions on the fly (that is, in a few seconds), enhancing inventory throughput and avoiding detrimental markdowns – try to do it by hand on thousands of SKU, if you can…

On one hand, working with huge amounts of data is getting simpler:

  • data-collection gets cheaper every day, so data on its own has limited value (Retailers have plenty of it)
  • analytics tools today are quite accessible, so elaborating data and obtaining information is getting easier, less expensive and less time-consuming

Trouble is, if Retailers want to get ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS from analytics, investing just in TECHNOLOGY is not good enough: we need to invest BOTH in TECHNOLOGY and PEOPLE (…the right PEOPLE, of course!).

Are we afraid that the “human-factor” is going to be disqualified? I strongly believe analytics tools valuably support and amplify human capabilities, help to work better and to tangibly improve business results. If I talk about: “…analyzing transactional data for cannibalization, affinity and halo effects at the Shopper-segment-level to select optimal offers which drive traffic, baskets and loyalty…”, only true retail people fully understand:

  • what data-elaboration is required
  • what info they are able to obtain
  • what insights they need
  • how they are ACTIONABLE

A final, strategic thought… …it’s better:

  • teaching seasoned retail people how to beneficially use analytics tools


  • …teaching computer whizzes (who know analytics technologies inside-out) how to be merchants

Let’s think about it…

Andy Cavallini  –


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