Omni Channel Retail Forum Breakfast – April 2015
Christine de Largy, is International Managing Director, Impact Executives, Head of the Retail/Consumer Practice and Chair of the Harvey Nash Executive Search, UK Board Practice. Christine is passionate about the digital transformation of consumer businesses and hosts an omni retail forum to facilitate debate around the issues. She also sits on the board of IORMA, the International Omni Retail Markets Association.
Our last meeting focused on how businesses need to adapt/restructure their target operating model to deliver in an Omni world. That led to a discussion about how one can predict consumer demand to optimise delivery through Omni-retail, the focus of the conversation on Thursday.
The retail landscape is confronting ever faster disruption from Amazon Dash and Vogue retail among many. At the same time consumers want mass personalisation Asda are taking the culture of selfie even further with the 3D printer using ceramic material that will produce a miniature you to share with your nearest and dearest. But with increased margin pressure, getting it right at the best cost has never been more important. So looking at historical data is not going to help optimise future demand and asking the customer is limited to what they know and they don’t know what they don’t know. So the best businesses are those that are able to accurately predict demand.
Brand and engaging with customers
- We started the discussion considering the impact of internationalisation of business and how territories respond very differently where some are “unbanked”. Evidencing the truism that really understanding your customer is the first vital step.
- Moving on to analytics we discussed how consumers had fallen out of love with Tesco and that they did not help themselves by not plugging in the Dunhummby data into the promotional planning activity. But that for retailers to have a dialogue with a customer they need to be liked.
- It is surprising that Boots struggle to map the journey of an expectant mother from pregnancy testing kit, to supplements to nappies.
- Synchronising the business so that insight is shared around the whole organisation is key, not keeping insights in silos which in traditional retailing may reside in buying & merchandising, strategy, finance, IT and marketing teams.
- Some boards have unrealistic expectations of what technology can do for the business. It can only enable, educate and entertain. It has to be seen as agile not solid state. It is about continuous improvement, not big bang which equals big fail. The techies have to supervised.
- The idea of Lean organisations was explored ensuring fast fail and highly adaptable organisations that can embrace and bring the customer into the boardroom.
- There are just not enough data-analytic experts in the world so artificial intelligence (AI) has to be the way forward and it is here now. It is self-fulfilling and intuitive and will make the single biggest difference to analytics and predictions.
- The old world was about size and scale, the big beating the small. Now it is about speed the fast beating the slow. But seamlessly integrating the physical and digital is assumed by the consumer. The phys-igital challenge.
- An interesting route to predicting demand is through the blogger community where they are promoting brand messages and curating lifestyle changes. A rich source of insight.
- A varied example of this is at the BBC where the old regime of pursuing unofficial fan sites for say Dr Who through legal action has been replaced with embracing them as ambassadors of the brands and engage with them pro-actively receiving first class data on potential demand.
Curating vs. modifying
- The tension in the market place is mass-personalisation where everyone wants personalisation but low cost. Millennials or generation-i are required to learn code at school, everyone can be a hacker and modifying goods and services is business as usual. An interesting tension is with overwhelming choice and how to find that perfect product or service. Businesses that do the job for customers, of finding the new and the cool, by curating best in class product are winners too.
Having started the discussion on how to predict consumer demand, the idea that without enough data-analytic wizards AI is an inevitable and essential solution to the big data challenge. In addition that the tension of personalisation and unprecedented choice is a tension around enabling your customer to modify vs. curate the best. Topics for next time I think.
About Impact Executives Ltd Impact Executives is a leading interim management provider to organisations of every size in the UK and internationally. Originally formed as a specialist practice within PA Consulting Group, over the past 25 years Impact Executives has helped over 2000 companies, including more than two-thirds of the FTSE 250 – find the very best executive interim management talent.
Clients choose to work in partnership with Impact Executives because of our proven ability to offer immediate solutions to improve their organisation’s performance through identifying skills-gaps, business process reengineering (BPR), turnaround, restructure and growth.
With offices covering the UK, the Nordics, Europe, Asia Pacific and North America, Impact Executives is part of the global recruitment specialist Harvey Nash Group plc. Over the past 20 years we have given clients and interim managers the confidence that we have the resources, expertise and focus to deliver results – fast.
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