The Customer Is A New Dimension

The Customer Is A New Dimension

July 26, 2016

Consumer demand is shifting and for all sorts of reasons that are outside of the control of retailers. We mentioned in an earlier post that one of our very own merchandise planners found herself ordering online because the china she wanted to buy would be heavy and she didn’t want to lug it to her car. This was not an attribute her merchandise planning system had previously taken into account. It was time to re-think planning.

Perhaps it’s not as radical as a whole new way of planning but rather a whole new dimension. And that dimension would be ‘the customer.’ Looking beyond what the customer has bought from you and where, social, search, reviews read, dwell time on the site, email offers read provide behavioral attributes that help retailers glean insights into what demand is likely to be and where it is likely to come from. Some have even gone so far as to say that instead of looking to the store as a unit of aggregation of demand, you should be looking at customer demand and then allocating to the right places.

Whatever it is, it begins with a deeper look at the customer and more to the point, the customer’s behavior however, this data lies largely outside of the retailer’s enterprise. While there are a lot of benefits to pulling customer information into the mix, retailers have had a lot trouble executing it. I suspect there are many issues holding them back. Their systems are likely locked into older versions that the idea of adding customer data would be unthinkable. Or maybe the data is not clean enough, not in the right form to be useful, or they simply don’t have the right processes in place to use the data.

This tells me that it is time to start looking at data aggregators that can pluck data from disparate locations and in a timely manner. Allowing retailers to understand their customers better as well as to act at the speed of the ever-shifting customer demand.