Top Five Important Facts About ERP in 2017


(In the digital age, companies need to make sure that all the different parts of their business can share information and create strategic plans from their data. This is where enterprise resource planning software(ERP) comes into play.

Whether in a small firm that is looking to grow or a huge corporation that needs to take control of its resources, ERP is a way of making sure that people at every level have the access they need to the same information. The right ERP solution can transform every area of a business, from inventory management and human resources right through to sales.

For some time the big names in this market have been SAP, Oracle and Microsoft, but the landscape is changing as cloud ERP offerings become more prominent. Adoption is high, and the signs point towards ERP being a central factor in most enterprise IT environments and IT strategies from now on.

Here are five important facts about ERP, how its adoption is growing and how new technologies are making it easier than ever to migrate to a new ERP solution.

ERP is a huge area of growth

The worldwide market for ERP is now worth over $25.4B (1), and is increasing year on year. New innovations in business IT are resulting in an increasing demand for software that meets the needs of the companies using it.

This growth is a part of the wider expansion of the global enterprise software market which is predicted to exceed $500B by 2022 (2). Within the enterprise software market, there are two segments which are outperforming all others when it comes to expansion; customer relationship management and ERP.

Everyone’s using it

ERP is hugely popular, with a majority of firms making use of it. In research conducted throughout 2016, Panorama Consulting found that 81% of organisations have implemented ERP software or are in the process of doing so (3). A further 14% are looking at which ERP software will suit their needs. The sector has moved beyond being a niche for large organisations with complex needs and has become the mainstream and accepted way of meeting the challenges a company faces.

It’s all in the cloud

The cloud is the future when it comes to ERP, as it is with many other areas of IT. The agility of cloud-based systems allows companies to move with the needs of their customers, and this versatility is driving growth in the sector and making it much more attractive. Eric Kimberling, of Panorama Consulting, points out that between 2015 and 2016 cloud ERP rose from an 11% market share to 27% (3). This rise is set to continue throughout 2017 as companies invest more in the development of cloud-based ERP software.

Saving cash

With the increase in agility that comes with the adoption of cloud-based ERP comes a reduction in costs. Research published by market analyst firm IDC asked a variety of companies for their top five reasons for moving to cloud ERP, and 40% of them said that reducing the total size of their IT budget was the major factor (4). Another 40% said that an improvement in the way in which their resources are utilised was the prime motivator for them.

Safety is still key

When companies in IDC’s recent CloudTrack Survey (4) were asked about the use of specific applications in the public cloud, they reported increased use across several application types, including ERP.

But when these firms were asked if they have any issues with using such software, security still came up as a major concern, something which points towards this being a problem that could affect the growth of cloud-based ERP. IDC’s research found that almost half (49%) of the businesses it spoke to cited security as their biggest concern when considering a move to a cloud-based system. Other worries included the way in which such a move will fit in with regulatory and compliance issues and whether or not cloud-based systems can deliver the kind of performance that each company needs.

In terms of the growth of ERP, the facts speak for themselves. A large majority of companies already have ERP deployments in place and nearly all others are looking at their options. The future is now not a decision about whether or not to make use of ERP, but simply how to go about it.

There are understandable concerns amongst some adopters, but these seem to be based more on the wider use of cloud technology and general security issues that are applicable across many areas of IT. ERP has firmly staked its claim as the central software stack in the business world and has become integral to any company that wants to take control of its resources and improve operations.

References

(1) https://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2014/05/12/gartners-erp-market-share-update-shows-the-future-of-cloud-erp-is-now/#53ecaec51fae

(2) https://www.wiseguyreports.com/reports/1127298-global-enterprise-software-market-by-segment-industry-verticals-geography-and-vendors

(3) http://diginomica.com/2017/01/25/cloud-erp-adoption-eric-kimberling-reveals-surprising-data-and-misconceptions/

(4) http://resources.idgenterprise.com/original/AST-0111292_ERP_US_EN_WP_IDCERPInTheCloud.pdf

Are shipping fees costing you customers?


Online retailers are becoming incredibly sophisticated in their ability to impact conversion rates based on hundreds of different variables.  New technologies allow purchase screens to be customised based on user data (i.e. where a customer is purchasing from, time on site, location, previously browsed items, etc.), meaning that e-retailers can be super-specific in their targeting to increase conversion rates.

There’s already been a lot of work done to get the customer to the stage where they are ready to click “add to basket”.  You’ve attracted customers to your site, you’ve encouraged them to commit to a product, and it’s in their virtual basket – ready to be purchased.

So what is stopping customers from moving forward to complete the purchase?

It’s all comes down to one decision – to buy or not to buy.  Psychology sits at the heart of these decisions, and understanding the reason for your abandoned cart rates can help you to break down the psychological barriers that are stopping customers moving forward.

In a report from UPS (1), the number one reason for abandoned carts globally was that shipping costs increased the overall purchase price more than expected.  If we think of the psychological process at play here: customers firstly decide on a product, are happy with its price and features, and then add the product to their basket.  The customer is mentally calculating the overall price as they add their different products to their basket.  They then move forward to complete their order and shipping costs get added.  The price is more than they were expecting.  Or maybe it is the price they expected but mentally it pushes the overall basket value above their desired purchase price.

And this is enough for customers to abandon their cart and leave their items.

One factor that could be causing the high rates of abandoned carts is that customers are testing the shipping costs and how they will be applied to their purchase.  The cart isn’t really abandoned as it was never a serious purchase – it was an elaborate calculator to help gauge the shipping costs.

Even removing this factor, the addition of shipping costs is still a blocker for customers moving ahead with their purchase.  So what can you do to step in and impact the psychology of your buyer so the sale has a higher chance of moving ahead successfully?

How could retailers address this issue earlier?

Is it an option to try and put this (even potentially unattractive) shipping time and cost information upfront so that customers are not surprised when they see shipping costs added?  Could shipping costs be added to the basket subtotal when any items are added so that the increased cost is not a late addition to the purchase journey?

The other option is offering free shipping and removing shipping costs altogether.  This could put a strain on profit margins, but it might be a worthwhile activity to calculate the cost of abandoned carts to the business – i.e. what revenues would you have achieved if even just 10% of those customers had completed their purchased, and compare that to the cost of offering free shipping costs to all customers.

If this is a psychological blocker that is preventing customers from buying then increasing product costs ever so slightly across the board to account for the cost of offering free shipping could mean the difference between high rates of abandoned carts and winning lots of new customers.

In Europe, 49% of consumers abandoned their cart because shipping costs were too high (which is actually lower than the averages in the US at 54% and Canada at 61%).  Sometimes this is because orders haven’t been large enough to result in free shipping qualification.

Is the problem actually worse than we expect?

However, some reports show even higher numbers of abandoned carts due to shipping costs.  A report highlighted in eMarketer by FuturePay (2) said that 86% of surveyed respondents said that the cost of shipping resulted in cart abandonment, so it’s clearly a problem for retailers to get right.

Amazon has tried to combat this barrier through its free shipping option for Prime members.  A report by cg42 (3) found that 91% of Amazon Prime members said they signed up for the service based on the lure of free 2-day shipping.

What appears to be a common theme amongst many of the reports and surveys is that better communication about delivery options and associated costs in order set more realistic expectations earlier on.

A report by Meta Pack (4) found that 66% of consumers would move to another brand if there were more attractive delivery options available – so shipping costs and delivery times are clearly at the top of the agenda for customers when deciding whether to complete a purchase.

An article from the Royal Mail highlights an interesting point from a Deloitte report (5), saying that retailers will need to move quickly to better respond to consumers’ expectations – with same day delivery becoming more standard in our online shopping experiences. Some reports are also suggesting many consumers are now expecting free same-day delivery which is obviously ahead of many retailers’ current offerings.

So with the huge impact that delivery costs have on customers’ decision making, combined with the availability of suitable delivery options, retailers will be looking at ways to make delivery option information more prominent on their sites to enable consumers to be updated earlier in the process.

 

References

(1)   https://www.ups.com/media/en/gb/ups_global_paper.pdf

(2)   https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Cart-Abandonment-Really-Come-Down-Cost/1015092

(3)   http://cg42.com/

(4)   http://www.metapack.com/report/delivering-consumer-choice-infographic/

(5)   http://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/consumer-business/articles/global-powers-of-retailing.html

HPE and Verteda Video Released


Have you seen our recent case study video by HPE and Verteda?

If you prefer to read it, then access the case study here, otherwise take a look at our video below with Matthew Prosser from Verteda and Lee Duffield from C24.

Do you like me? Will you buy?


To win in sales, you need to get a great territory plan in place, then carefully research each individual customer, run your analytics to see which customers are best placed to buy at that time, then develop your value proposition, prospect your customers, get them knowledgeable about your product roadmap, ensure their heatmap is filled out and finally, boom! They purchase.

Or maybe not?

These elements are important, to an extent, for the appropriate customer.

But a huge part of selling comes down to likeability.  People often don’t like admitting that, because it can suggest that sales people are ‘born’.  What happens to Sales Trainers if sales is just about being likeable; a quality that is pretty difficult to learn?

An article in Harvard Business Review discussed how co-workers preferred likeable people – and that managers often hire likeable people.  That sounds incredibly obvious, but the suggestion is that we often make choices about people in a work environment, not on their skill or competence, but mainly on the level of their likeability.  You choose to work with the person on a project, you offer them the job, you promote them because they get on so well with the team.  That’s not to say that you can be completely useless and still get ahead (although that does happen from time to time) but it means that in a decision scenario, where all candidates rank the same on all other factors, is it not natural that the final decision comes down to likeability?

Within our own organisation, one of the factors that makes customers choose us is often a simple “We can work with these guys” statement.  If the trust and respect is there, then customers feel much happier working with a company they can work with easily, get along with and engage without friction – rather than a company who still has the same high levels of competency, but something just doesn’t ‘smell right’.  Of course, we believe we have high levels of competency in what we do, but we also focus on fostering a culture of likeability – personality and character are important traits that bond us as employees and also create bonds between our customers and partners.

As the HBR article puts it, a little extra likeability goes a longer way than a little extra competence.  This brings me to whether likeability is the biggest factor for buyers when making a purchasing decision.

 

Likeability in Sales

A Rain Selling post highlights how there are often underlying reasons at play, that we might not even recognise ourselves, when we make a purchasing decision.  In situations where every supplier at the table has the same level of competency and capability, which is often the case in highly competitive markets, the decision usually comes down to who the buyer likes best.

And ‘liking’ doesn’t just mean you’d be happy to go for a beer with them – it can be broader and mean that you respect their perspectives, or find them more credible; therefore more likeable.

Rain also conducted a survey about what separates winners in sales from ‘the rest’.  The main difference was ‘the seller and how they sell’ rather than an assessment of the company and its products.  Amongst many other factors, the buyers surveyed listed points such as, “being more collaborative, listening to me, helping avoid potential pitfalls, and connecting with me personally” as reasons contributing to choosing a particular seller.

Rain go on to share how the likeability factor has a big impact on the entire sales process, from making prospects more likely to share information during the needs discovery phase, through to buyers taking insights shared by the seller more seriously and the ease of obtaining meetings and referrals.  It’s obvious that you are not going to refer a company to a friend when you had a negative experience purchasing from them.

Think about in your own office.  When you hear your colleagues complaining about a particular supplier or stating that they will never work with XYZ company again, is it usually the product or the seller/sales experience?  In my experience, it tends to be the difficult sales experience or clash of characters that stops us working with a supplier again.  The products or services on offer are often available from someone else, somewhere in the world.  The difference is how YOU are going to deliver it.

 

‘I’m not bothered if you buy or not – here are the cakes’


We have a Sales Rep working for us, whose preferred way of handling customer meetings is to take a batch of cakes in.  No super science sales skills, no clever tactics.  And honestly no hidden agenda.  Just cakes.  He usually eats most of them too, with a cup of tea (2 sugars) and a lengthy chat.

This is how he’s always done it.

Customers love him, and trust him.  I’m always fascinated by the idea of trust, especially as we have built our business based on years of continued trust, with repeat clients and longer contracts than usual.  It’s difficult to put your finger on where that unique trust comes from, or how you even build it.  We always thought it just happened.

But I came across an interesting graphic called the Trust Matrix.  It perfectly articulated something we had been carrying out for so long, but didn’t have the words to explain.

The Trust Matrix says that you need a unique combination of both character and competence to build trust.  You can go online and read all the case studies in the world about a potential new supplier, but if something just doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t right.  Character forms a huge part of what we do – it’s why our customers stay with us for the long term. But how do you define it? Or even more complicated, how do you replicate character?

But what is character?

Who knows?  It could be our strong Brummie accents, or our cheeky Dad jokes.  We’re not quite sure.  Our Sales Rep strongly believes it’s the cakes.  Or perhaps it’s the lunches at the Vine around the corner (curry/pub that’s well worth a visit if you’re in West Bromwich).

The Trust Matrix believes character is a mix of integrity, openness and authenticity.  In our world, we think being true to our roots and straightforward with customers is better than an overly polished slick presentation and a sales script.  When we first work with customers, we deliver our FACE presentation, sharing everything about how the company came about, our approach and culture and what working with us is like.  Our customers want to know that they are buying into something real, honest and reliable; that when they encounter an issue, someone is there to help.  Sales have long left the building by the time your customer really needs you.  Being there at the weekend, against all odds, is what makes the difference between character and a good sales patter.

The problem with many sales training programmes is that they focus on how to make cookie cutter sales reps – with everyone acting in the same way, saying the same things and delivering the same presentation.

We don’t think that works and each of our Sales Reps operates in a completely different way to the next.  That suits some customers, and doesn’t suit others – no problem, people are individuals after all.  But those differences and quirks in our personalities make us real – and customers get a good handle on who we are as a company pretty early on.

Combined with competence

So what sits on the other side of character in the Trust Matrix?  Competence is the other key element, apparently made up of the capability to deliver, alongside relevant skills and experience.  This is the part where customers need to see proof that you can deliver the services they need to a great level, regardless of whether they get on with you or not.  Organisations that focus too much on improving sales without looking at what happens once a customer is actively engaged with your business tend to suffer from a high rate of customer churn.  This is where the client has selected you to work with, but quickly realises that the skills aren’t there, or problems start to emerge – and they ultimately walk away from the contract.

Character alone won’t see you through serious competency issues.  A high degree of results-based competence, built on evidence of previous experience delivering the same services, alongside examples of where you have performed well for other organisations.

Balancing the two

A recent article in Director magazine from the Institute of Directors picked up on how companies now need to have an Emotional Selling Proposition – as people make choices based on their emotional engagement with a brand.

Maybe this is why we build such strong, and long, partnerships with our customers.  The customers become friends and we partner in different ways as the company changes and our clients’ own businesses morph and grow.

Even in the B2B world, we believe that every decision is an emotional decision, based on a unique mix of character and competence, balancing that ‘je ne sais quoi’ with experience and skill.

Why Sales Deserves a Seat on the Board


A company’s sales team is crucial to its success. That’s because Marketing initiatives can whet an individual’s appetite for a product or service, but it’s the sales rep that makes sure the potential customer’s initial ‘want’ becomes that all-important ‘need.’ In doing so he or she manages to bridge that all-important gap between customer and company.

So, with such a crucial role to play, why does the Sales Manager frequently find her or himself relegated to a lower position in the company pecking order than say the Finance, Marketing, HR or Operations Director? Why doesn’t he or she get to sit in on important board room meetings and help make the decisions which will inevitably affect their team too? A recent study of 25 companies in a particular area in Georgia, USA, showed that of 25 companies, all had a Chief Finance Officer, 16 employed a Chief Marketing Officer yet only two had a Chief Sales Officer.

The reasons given for a distinct lack of sales presence in the boardroom are numerous, but are they particularly convincing – or even justified? See what you think…

Sales isn’t as important as other company functions

Many C-level executives would suggest that one of the reasons sales is regarded in such a lowly fashion in the company pecking order is because, unlike Accountancy or Marketing, there is very little formal education in the discipline. How many university or college courses specialising in solely Sales, for instance, have you spotted recently?

And it’s not just the lack of degrees and HNC qualifications that causes Sales to fall short in management’s eyes; neither is there any accredited qualifications to aim for – unlike in Marketing where the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Certificate is the holy grail of the profession, or a similar piece of paper from the Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales (ICAEW) for their Finance colleagues.

Part of its ‘lowly’ standing and lack of respect in the company hierarchy then is perhaps due to the fact that Sales isn’t formally recognised in an academic sense. In some cases it’s even ‘tolerated’ and viewed by others in the company (including those in the upper echelons of management) as almost a necessary evil. This seems extremely unfair given the importance of Sales ‘bonding’ and the frontline function that sales delivers between customer and company.

Sales people think differently from colleagues in other sections

Many Sales staff haven’t been to university or other academic institutions simply because they went in to the sector straight from school and trained ‘on the job.’ In the world of Sales, experience and ability speaks far higher than academic achievement. But because of the lack of formal higher education, the individual leading the company’s Sales team may have missed out on the leadership and presentation skills taught to those with a more academic background.

There is also a general perception about salesmen and women that they were ‘born with the gift of the gab’ and that their charm and sales ability is somehow innate rather than gleaned through years of hard work and experience.

Then again, the company can often unwittingly encourage in the Sales team what directors from other sectors might regard as ‘bad behaviour.’ This is where sales reps are offered huge bonuses for the number of sales achieved rather than customer satisfaction.

Sales people sometimes don’t have a great reputation

Like journalists or lawyers, salespeople are sometimes described as sneaky, self-serving and lacking integrity. Sure, there are some Sales staff who would fit that description, just as there are individuals in other jobs, such as policemen and teachers who would also tick that box. But there are many salesmen and women who take a huge amount of pride in what they do, and bring high levels of professionalism to every situation.

Sales reps, however, must take some of the blame here too. Often the Sales culture in an organisation can prove to be rather maverick, encouraging ‘reckless’ behaviour and giving the department a ‘bad name.’

Then there is a self-esteem issue in that some Sales staff themselves don’t believe they deserve to be regarded as highly as their Finance or Marketing colleagues for some of the reasons mentioned above, such as the lack of academic qualifications and how they are currently regarded by the company, ie as ranking ‘lower’ than other departments.

And yet, Sales is just as important for a company’s bottom line as other sectors – and perhaps even more so. Just ask top decision-makers at IBM, HP and SAP who have all established focused Sales Academies, having recognised the pivotal role their Sales teams play in their own success. Undoubtedly other companies will shortly follow suit.

Conclusion

Increasingly in these post-Brexit days where uncertainty over the UK economy is having a dampening effect on consumer spending, improving company revenue and adding to sales figures is crucial in order for a business to survive. And Sales, with its important opportunity to bond with the customer, is absolutely central to this. They alone can build trust and loyalty, and in doing so, enhance a company’s reputation and ensure that customers don’t switch to a competitor.

After all, the Sales rep may be the only individual from a company that the customer will ever communicate directly with – whether face-to-face or via telephone. So, isn’t it worth ensuring this ‘company lifeline’ is guaranteed to work? You can today, by investing more in sales training and general business awareness skills. This will foster professionalism and ensure Sales finally gets that long-deserved seat in the company board room.

Infographic guide to Predictive Analytics in Retail


C24 has just published an infographic / visual version of our Predictive Analytics in Retail whitepaper here that just includes the main key points from our overall whitepaper (which can be accessed here).

c24-predictiveanalyticsinretailpic

C24 is pleased to announce their latest whitepaper on Predictive Analytics in Retail.

 

What’s in the whitepaper?

We look at how analytics is changing the traditional shopping experience – and how in-store operations are being integrated with online e-commerce practices.

Why should I read it?

If you want to stay up to date with how analytics, and more specifically predictive analytics is influencing the retail experience, then download the whitepaper today to find out more.

Why has C24 written this whitepaper?

C24 is heavily focussed on business analytics – we have a product called Bi24 which we deliver to businesses across the country, especially to the legal sector who use the analytics tool to better manage their operations.  We also work heavily in the hospitality and retail sector, and see some of the technology coming down the line in the retail sector as a big opportunity for retailers looking to capitalise on big data within their organisations.

C24 Predictive Analytics in Retail Snippet 3

 

Smart Stores of the Future: Predictive Analytics


How is the Internet of Things poised to revolutionize analytics in high street retail?

 

Connecting with the customer

Internet of Things (IoT) devices are paving the way for “smart stores”, where interaction with consumers’ mobile devices can provide a responsive and immersive retail experience; one that tailors the store directly to a customer’s needs. Providing a customer experience that feels personalized and tailored to each individual is the Holy Grail for high street retail, and IoT provides tools that can take retailers closer than ever to providing a bespoke experience for each customer.

The line between digital and high street retail is becoming more and more blurred, as stores integrate their digital platforms with their in-store experiences.  Some retailers are offering their own apps or services such as on-the-go ordering, where customers can browse and order their purchases online, either using their computers or mobile devices, before picking up their order in stores. These apps can also provide features to enhance the in-store experience, such as maps or offers based on real-time information about the customer, coming from their mobile devices.

But when you start to integrate this omni-channel strategy into an IoT-ready store, things start to get really interesting.

The whole shopping experience becomes a two-way process, as almost every aspect of the retail environment becomes interactive. While the customers receive info from in-store apps, beacons in the store can alert sales associates of loyal customers, providing them with projections of the customer’s tastes and recommended purchase suggestions for the associate to give.

With these tools, staff can offer informed recommendations, to help improve the customer experience and drive brand loyalty.  All areas of the store can be transformed into marketing opportunities – for instance, traditional marketing displays no longer have to be static anymore, as digital signage can respond to devices and show personalized advertisements to users, based on social media data picked up from their mobile devices. Meanwhile, store mannequins can have sensors integrated that allow users to instantly look up the price and location of the outfits on display. Even the fitting rooms can be integrated into an IoT network, as integrated touch screens within the mirrors can allow users to quickly compare and search for alternative sizes and outfits without leaving their cubicle.

See everything

Once you’ve got the customers in store with your amazing, interactive retail interface, you’ve got to manage how they move through the environment.  Sensors can be employed to keep track of store traffic, allowing you to analyse where congestion issues occur, enabling retailers to drastically reduce the frustration and stress that a busy shop floor can bring to customers.

You can even go a step further and use this tracking data to optimize your in-store displays. By analysing where customers spend the most time in the store, you can position marketing targeted at them, located where it can be the most effective. Shelf display positioning can also become more refined, as you can position shelf displays where they are most likely to be attractive to the right customers. In the past, competition for shelf-space had been a sophisticated art, as different products compete for limited room. Now, analytics-informed positioning with data retrieved through IoT sensors can help towards turning shelving into a science, as the displays and positioning are tailored towards their ideal customer and can track eye movement, quantity of customers passing by and number of times products are taken from the shelves.

For instance, if a product kept being taken from the shelf for a customer to review, then was repeatedly replaced, it could be difficult for the retailer to gain any insight about the product if it had never actually reached the checkout point.  However with IoT sensors tracking when a product was taken from the shelf, how many were returned to the shelf vs purchased and how long customers stayed in front of the shelf, retailers can be much more analytical about their displays and identify what is and isn’t working.

The future is now

Some of this tech sounds like it’s been lifted straight out of a sci-fi film.  But these are features that are available to retailers now. The Aurora sensor is a device that allows for in-store traffic analysis to an incredibly sophisticated degree, so sophisticated in fact that it can exclude staff from its analysis for more accurate reporting. Companies like Offer Moments provide sophisticated digital billboards that produce personalized advertisements based on the location and demographic of those who approach them.

One of the most sophisticated high street experiences is actually here in the UK: The Pro: Direct sportswear store in Foubert’s Place, London (Retail Customer Experience). They partnered with Green Room Design and opened in 2014, boasting digital screens on almost every surface, interactive, digital mannequins, and responsive advertisements, all of which are fully interactive for the customer.

Bigger things to come

In truth, we are currently only in the infancy of integrating IoT into any aspect of our everyday lives, let alone into retail.  As retailers become more aware of the benefits of IoT integrated stores, the demand for the devices will increase. This will lead to the devices becoming even more sophisticated, which in turn will enhance the quality of the analytics the sensors can provide.

There is huge potential for IoT in retail, requiring just imaginative and creative applications of the technology that is available today.

 

Image attribution

Image provided courtesy of Takashi Kiso

 

We’ve just published a whitepaper on how Predictive Analytics is changing the retail experience, download it here: http://www.c24.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/C24-Predictive-Analytics-in-Retail-Whitepaper.pdf

 

 

C24 is pleased to announce their latest whitepaper on Predictive Analytics in Retail.

C24 Predictive Analytics in Retail Snippet

What’s in the whitepaper?

We look at how analytics is changing the traditional shopping experience – and how in-store operations are being integrated with online e-commerce practices.

Why should I read it?

If you want to stay up to date with how analytics, and more specifically predictive analytics is influencing the retail experience, then download the whitepaper today to find out more.

Why has C24 written this whitepaper?

C24 is heavily focussed on business analytics – we have a product called Bi24 which we deliver to businesses across the country, especially to the legal sector who use the analytics tool to better manage their operations.  We also work heavily in the hospitality and retail sector, and see some of the technology coming down the line in the retail sector as a big opportunity for retailers looking to capitalise on big data within their organisations.

C24 Predictive Analytics in Retail Snippet 3

 

Analytics-enabled Supply Chains: Predictive Analytics


How can analytics be used to optimize your retail supply chain to peak efficiency?

 

Beneath the surface

Retail is a lot like a swan or an iceberg: what we can see on the surface is just a fraction of the amount that’s going on out of sight. You might have the best in-store experience in the world, one that customers travel from all over the world to visit. You could have queues out the door of customer waiting to purchase your product. But if you don’t have a well-run supply chain, it can all be for nothing. All those people queuing up to buy your product will be spending their time queuing, not buying your products. With a well-oiled supply chain operation, you could be developing a way to reduce queues and customer wait times.

Analytics provides a means to not only keep your supply chain running, but to also provide predictions and projections that can allow you to tackle problems pre-emptively and run your operations at peak efficiency.

Meeting demand

Analytics is a fantastic way to ensure that you are getting the right amount of stock in rotation through the supply chain, to help the retailer make sure they are meeting demand, and are not wasting resources on excess stock. Food retailer EAT partnered with cloud-based analytics provider, Blue Yonder to reduce food waste by 14% (ComputerWeekly). They did this by analysing customer demand compared to external variables such as the weather, or local events for each store.

A similar strategy was implemented by the American department store chain, Stage, who utilized analytics of customer purchases to develop stock projections for individual stores based on the most popular sizes and styles of clothing (Forbes). Stage made sure that the shelf space was occupied as much as possible by clothing that customers would actually buy.

These optimizations don’t just mean that EAT are spending less money on wasted food, or that Stage are using their shelf space more efficiently. They are saving money on indirect costs, such as production, transportation, and storage of goods. If a retailer is only ordering the correct amount of stock to meet demand, then that means there is less excess being produced, which means that less transportation and warehouse space is required for both the raw materials and produce.

Targeted Efficiency

Once you’ve refined your supply and stock requisitions, you can start optimizing the individual components of the supply chain. At every step along the supply chain there are places where inefficiencies can occur. Analytics can not only be used to identify any steps where movement through the chain is slowing, but can even make suggestions on how to optimize the process. For example, data insights could suggest quicker routes and schedules for shipping, or could be used to optimize the flow of manufacturing processes.

But it doesn’t have to stop at optimizing the flow through the supply chain, data analytics can help to find potential solutions if there is a problem with the supply chain. Analytics can identify any potential external shocks to a supply chain, and then provide ideas about how suggested work-arounds may be implemented based on previous trends and data points.

Do you know where your stock is?

Data analytics enables companies to create real-time visualizations of their supply chains – letting them see the big picture of their data – through word clouds or dynamic graphs and charts.  In order to develop these real time data pictures, trackers can be used all the way along the supply chain, which can provide up to date progress reports of goods on their journeys.

As well as keeping track of your supply chain efficiency, these trackers can also be used to aid with quality control, allowing you to cut losses on spoiled or damaged goods. This can be especially beneficial for perishable goods, as their quality can be tracked in real time. With these tools, you can forecast shelf life in a much more efficient and accurate manner, and even predict when and where you could need a resupply.

Once this system is running at an optimal level, it could be completely automated, as the trackers send out reorders for goods as soon as they’re required. Rather than wasting time waiting for the low or spoiled stock to be noticed and the reorder sent out and processed, the sensors can detect when the shelves are getting empty, or when perishable goods are nearing expiration, and send out orders straight away.

Rapid response

In the past, calculating a single day’s costs for an entire supply chain could take over a week. Often, this is far too slow for companies to take effective action in responding to any raised issues or making quick changes that could save tangible cash. Thankfully, analytics can provide a solution. Intelligence engines can provide a calculation of a day’s costs to a degree of 99% accuracy, within a single day (Logistics Viewpoints). Along with real time visualisations, companies now have the resources available to react almost instantaneously to any issues. Problems can be tackled as soon as they appear, or even, in the best case scenario, before they even occur at all.

With these tools in place a retail supply chain can become a well-oiled machine, as goods glide all the way along from manufacturer, right through the supply chain and into the customer’s hands.

 

We’ve just published a whitepaper on how Predictive Analytics is changing the retail experience, download it here: http://www.c24.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/C24-Predictive-Analytics-in-Retail-Whitepaper.pdf

 

C24 is pleased to announce their latest whitepaper on Predictive Analytics in Retail.

C24 Predictive Analytics in Retail Snippet

What’s in the whitepaper?

We look at how analytics is changing the traditional shopping experience – and how in-store operations are being integrated with online e-commerce practices.

Why should I read it?

If you want to stay up to date with how analytics, and more specifically predictive analytics is influencing the retail experience, then download the whitepaper today to find out more.

Why has C24 written this whitepaper?

C24 is heavily focussed on business analytics – we have a product called Bi24 which we deliver to businesses across the country, especially to the legal sector who use the analytics tool to better manage their operations.  We also work heavily in the hospitality and retail sector, and see some of the technology coming down the line in the retail sector as a big opportunity for retailers looking to capitalise on big data within their organisations.

C24 Predictive Analytics in Retail Snippet 3

 

Only Stock What Your Customers Want: Predictive Analytics


How can analytics help retailers become more efficient and reduce waste in store?

 

Finding peak efficiency

Rare indeed is the retailer with empty shelves. In an ideal world, a shop would stock the exact amount of produce to meet the demand of every customer that walks through their doors, so that by the end of the day there’s nothing left in store and there are no customers coming in to find that what they want isn’t there. Sadly, this kind of system is nearly impossible and an empty store isn’t that attractive, after all.  Yet by utilizing predictive analytics, retailers can try and get as close as possible to this golden ration of supply vs. demand.

Waste not, want not

Waste can cost retailers a lot of money. Waste of materials, waste of stock, waste of time, they all add up to one thing: lost money. That’s even before you get into the ethical and environmental considerations that wasting goods can have. Therefore, reduction of waste should be a key performance indicator for any retailer. Utilizing predictive analytics effectively can allow retailers to sleep a little easier, without the big twin weights of losing money, and damaging the environment weighing on their conscience.

Waste is a particular concern when it comes to food retail. A lot of food is perishable, so if it isn’t sold within a certain amount of time, it is essentially lost money. In 2012, a study found that grocery waste amounted to an estimated 6.5 million tonnes in the UK alone. A more recent report, published in May 2016, found that most of this waste is avoidable, with a reduction of up to 42% being completely feasible (WRAP).

Food retailer EAT partnered with cloud-based analytics provider, Blue Yonder, to analyse the stock they sent to each individual outlet. In a short amount of time they were able to reduce their food waste by 14% (ComputerWeekly). They did this by aiming to provide the right amount and types of food that customers could potentially want, based on an extremely broad range of variables. They didn’t just look at the demographics in the areas around stores and previous customer purchases over a range of time, they went in-depth on data collected on a daily basis, analysing not only customer purchasing behaviours, but comparing them against variables like weather, holidays, what day of the week it was, and local cultural or sporting events. This provided EAT with an accurate projection of what types of food to stock in stores in order to meet demand, and what stock reductions they should make in order to reduce waste.

These kinds of projections can be applied to almost any kind of retailer, not just food. If your stock has an expiration date, either because it’s perishable or it might go out of style, knowing how much to stock can be extremely important to make sure it’s not going to waste.

Fitting your stock to your customer

Similar principles of waste reduction can also be applied to clothing retail. Unlike food, most clothing doesn’t have an expiration date (unless you count changing fashion trends). However, there’s another equally damaging waste of your time and resources: taking up storage and shelf space with unwanted goods. Once again, applying predictive analytics can solve this solution and ensure that you’re getting your stock exactly where it needs to be.

Summer in the UK means it’s festival season. Thousands of people from across the country travel to a few select locations to party and have fun. But because it’s the UK, there’s pretty much one inevitability about attending one of these festivals: you’re going to get rained on. Therefore, the wise festival goer makes sure that they have a good, sturdy pair of wellington boots as part of their standard festival equipment. So if you sell wellington boots, you make sure that you’re stocked up on them to meet supply and demand. Simple enough.

But say you run out of a certain size boot. You’re now automatically losing customers, as they have to go elsewhere to find that size. Meanwhile, you’re wasting shelf and storage space on boot sizes that no one is buying. Analytics can provide a solution to this. Rather than purchasing a blanket order of the same amount for each size boot, you can look at the demographics and previous purchases of customers to get a projection of which sizes are likely to be the most popular.

Of course, this principle doesn’t have to just be applied to wellies, it works with just about any type of clothing. American department store chain, Stage, have applied this principle to every individual outlet, tailoring their stock orders based on previous sizes and styles purchased (Forbes). This kind of in-depth analysis would take a massive number of employees looking at thousands of products across hundreds of stores to come up with the required data insights. However, with effective use of analytics, Stage was able to tailor each store to the specific demands of the customers in the areas around them, reducing the amount of unwanted stock that was taking up shelf and warehouse space, and ensuring that fewer customers had to go elsewhere for their purchases.

Striking at the right time with sales

But stocking what the customers want is only one aspect of getting customers into your stores. There is a huge amount of competition for just about any type of retailer, both on the high street and online. Sales and discounts are one of the oldest tricks in the book for getting customers into stores and driving footfall. However, you can’t just throw out a sale whenever you want: it’s got to hit at the right time to get the right return. This process of deciding when it’s best to introduce a sale or discount is known as markdown optimization.

In the past, quite a lot of retailers have left these kind of sales up to the gut-instinct of the store managers. However, Stage department stores decided to test analytics based decisions against store owner implemented sales in order to see which method was more effective. A lot of the time, sales are introduced in order to get rid of a season’s excess stock so that shelves are clear for new stock. Analytics software advised placing sales and discounts earlier in the season, just as demand was starting to dip. The results were conclusive: according to Steve Hunter, CIO of Stage, “90% of the time, analytics won.” (Forbes). Now, every store in the chain utilizes the analytics program to advise their mark down optimization process.

 

We’ve just published a whitepaper on how Predictive Analytics is changing the retail experience, download it here: http://www.c24.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/C24-Predictive-Analytics-in-Retail-Whitepaper.pdf

 

C24 is pleased to announce their latest whitepaper on Predictive Analytics in Retail.

C24 Predictive Analytics in Retail Snippet

What’s in the whitepaper?

We look at how analytics is changing the traditional shopping experience – and how in-store operations are being integrated with online e-commerce practices.

Why should I read it?

If you want to stay up to date with how analytics, and more specifically predictive analytics is influencing the retail experience, then download the whitepaper today to find out more.

Why has C24 written this whitepaper?

C24 is heavily focussed on business analytics – we have a product called Bi24 which we deliver to businesses across the country, especially to the legal sector who use the analytics tool to better manage their operations.  We also work heavily in the hospitality and retail sector, and see some of the technology coming down the line in the retail sector as a big opportunity for retailers looking to capitalise on big data within their organisations.

C24 Predictive Analytics in Retail Snippet 3