The past year has been one of frantic, reactive activity for retailers. Those that successfully hung on during the seismic shifts that rocked the industry in the early days of the pandemic, and then managed to weather all the uncertainty around reopening that set in as the pandemic wore on are now contemplating a business that is vastly different.
As we approach the end of Q1, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s still too soon to say what the “new normal” will be. Customer behavior has significantly shifted over the past year, but some consistency is developing. We can go back into planning mode, but we need to stay nimble until we understand what customer behavior will be like going forward. There are still so many questions.
Time and place have shifted; weekends used to be the biggest shopping days, but now it’s weekdays and it’s online. There’s a lot more shipped directly to the consumer. How do you make that fit within your business model and make a profit? How do you support your brand experience online and on a mobile phone?
Retailers will have to analyze and predict trends by category and channel. They need to be prepared to quickly adjust assortments and support in-stocks to meet the buyers’ purchasing preferences.
7 Focus Analytics Areas for Retailers
Retailers turned to data and analytics to help them through the tumult of the previous year. Building on analytics capabilities will be important in smoothing the transition to the next phase. There's a lot more data being used to drive decisions than ever, and we need to continue along that path so that we can respond quickly to the coming shifts. Here are seven things retailers should focus on now to strengthen their analytics practice for the future:
Take notes on the questions that come up in meetings that you just can’t answer, and find out why. Is it that you just don’t have the data, or you can’t get to it? Use these questions to drive continual improvement of your data collection and analytics processes.
The experience of the past year has been (I hope) a once in a lifetime experience. A huge amount of change was thrust on retailers in a very short period of time. One silver lining was that it forced many retailers to up their analytics game and become more data driven. Continuing to develop your analytics capabilities is the key to navigating any changes, and developing the resiliency we clearly need for the unforeseeable future.