ISSUE #62 – The modern retailer operates in an increasingly complex environment. Marc Rakotomalala, Co-Founder and CEO of Mentorica Technology, shares RetailGear’s approach to empowering retailers.
Retailers operate in a brave new world
The central problem that retailers face is simple: offer products that customers want. However, not only are customers diverse and complex, their preferences and behaviours have always been a challenge to predict.
To complicate things further, technologies are redefining ways society approaches retail.
Today’s informed shopper path to purchase is a series of shopping moments, no longer a linear process like before: it entails (in any order) conversations with a community of like-minded folks, product unboxing on YouTube, following an influencer on Instagram, ratings on a review site, visits to a brick-and-mortar store, etc.
In short, a new hybrid customer has emerged, increasingly less predictable as groups, increasingly desiring custom products.
So the retailer’s problem boils down to the following: how can they gather as much data about the final consumer, so that (i) products remain relevant to an increasingly partitioned customer base, (ii) customer conversion rate increases, and (iii) customer loyalty develops?
Technologies are redefining ways society approaches retail.
Data, data, data
Data is certainly an important part to this process, and retailers need to gather data at each touchpoint, and generate actionable insights.
First, the retailer needs to have the means of analysing and visualising existing data (e.g. customer baskets, store inventory turnover) in order to find patterns and uncover associations for instance. More often than not, we have seen retailers sit on a trove of data due to a lack of adequate information infrastructure, skills, or stakeholders’ involvement; Mentorica’s RetailGear changes this state of affairs with its everyday business intelligence and predictive analytics capabilities delivered close to real time.
Next, if the retailer has brick-and-mortar stores, he must collect data at this touchpoint and, for example, activate the in-store customer preferences capture functionalities. Salespeople on the floor are thereupon equipped with an app capturing the voice of the customer for better product design, or optimal product allocations and offerings at the local retail level. How different is the lady traditionally buying on Faubourg St Honoré, Paris, from the new buyer in Shanghai?
A new hybrid customer has emerged increasingly less predictable as groups, increasingly desiring custom products.
The retailer can also activate mobile location analytics features, and capture foot traffic from store sensors, or grab customer demographics and emotions from intelligent cameras (IoT). Real-time traffic measures, store floor heatmaps, and customer distributions provide store, merchandising, and marketing managers actionable information.
Through Mentorica’s patent-pending DAMS platform (Data, Analytics, Method, and Systems as a Service), RetailGear offers a curated library of algorithms and recommendation engines to analyse these various heterogeneous datasets — offline, online, mobile, social web, and transactional.
Designed for retail business users, and not PhDs in statistics, it has chatbots and expert systems that guide users in choosing the best techniques, walking them through each step of the commercial data analysis at hand.
Data + Science
Ultimately, retail can be empowered by scientific methods; retailers can use data to increase customer conversion rate and enhance customer loyalty, by better matching product benefits to customer functional and psychological needs.
RetailGear user interface: Smartphone, Tablet, and Desktop (Image: Mentorica)
Mentorica is a technology start-up supported by the Singapore National Research Foundation, Mediacorp, and various venture capitalists. Mentorica’s RetailGear is a retail data acquisition and analytical CRM that provides a 360° view of customers, enabling retailers better understanding of customers’ perspectives across various touchpoints — offline, online, mobile, and social web.
Article by Marc Rakotomalala, Co-Founder and CEO of Mentorica Technology
Article published in the FOCUS Magazine “Driven by Data” — Issue #1 2017