With the US presidential election behind us, let the 2012 holiday shopping season begin in earnest.
Retailers no longer have to fight with politicos for commercial time, and fresh from voting, many consumers are ready for their next big to-do. As evidence, Deloitte found that one quarter of the 5,000-plus consumer respondents to its 27th annual holiday survey planned on waiting till after the election to plunk down any holiday green.
And these shoppers are savvier than ever, toting smartphones into stores for quick comparative price checks and product reviews, for example, and shopping across channels in the never-ending search for the best deal. Retailers that aren't keeping up can kiss their holiday upticks goodbye. Consumers may have a cheerier outlook about the economy than they did in 2011, but they're parting with their holiday dollars cautiously and spending less on gifts than previously, said Alison Kenney Paul, lead of Deloitte's US retail and distribution practice, during the "2012 Holiday Spending Predictions: Using Analytics to Respond to Retail Trends" Webinar hosted by the International Institute for Analytics (IIA) last week.
On the plus side, as consumers hop across the shopping universe, they're leaving digital bits behind at the point-of-sale and digital cash registers. Retailers capable of capturing and analyzing the data will be able to better compete for the limited holiday budget, plus influence additional purchases and gain loyalty, said Sarah Gates, vice president of research at the IIA and fellow presenter during the IIA Webinar.
Retailers have three distinct opportunities for how they can capitalize on analytics during the holiday season -- or any other time, for that matter, Gates noted. "The first is to get closer to their customers, second is to be more relevant, and final and third way is to anticipate what will happen -- be predictive rather than just reactive."
These messages aren't new, of course, and examples of how retailers are benefiting are out there. Gates shared several.
Macy's and Williams-Sonoma are masters at delivering relevant messages to their customers, Gates said. At times, for example, Macy's sends out 18 million unique emails and 500,000 unique versions of a single direct-mail catalogue. Meantime, Williams-Sonoma matches its customer database with external data on 60 million households, matching up income, housing value, number of children in the household, and other such data. It then uses that dataset to drive highly targeted email and direct-mail campaigns. Updating the analytics twice weekly helps the specialty retailer keep up with changes in consumer behavior, Gates said. And response rates for email campaigns done this way are 10 to 18 times higher compared to generic mailings. "It gives customers an offer that aligns with what they want to purchase when they're most likely to purchase it."
Hot Topic, a trendy clothier for young adults, is an example of a retailer that really understands its channels. Using analytics to test different approaches for sending offerings, for example, it's discovered that combining email with text messaging ups the response rate of email alone by a factor of 10, Gates explained. She also noted that Hot Topic analyzes effectiveness by day and time of day.
S-Group, a Finnish retail cooperative, stands out for its work optimizing stock. With its analytics models, it produces 40,000 unique plan-o-grams three times a year, according to Gates. These reflect category-specific and location-specific product mix and demand forecasts. With this capability, plus the move into e-commerce, S-Group has increased its market share by more than 30 percent since 1990.
Cole Haan, high-end fashion retailer, gets a nod for its smartphone smarts. Earlier this year, it began outfitting store clerks with an iPhone app that gives them instant insight about a customer's prior purchases, product preferences, and personal attributes so they can make on-the-mark recommendations on the spot. "In fact, they can deliver pictures of what they've already purchased along with pictures of what they're looking at so they can see how it all works together." Since introducing the app, Cole Haan has seen the number of purchases made by its "BlackBook" clients rise by 50 percent.
As a shopper, understanding the behind-the-scenes analysis makes me a little wary of any "fantastic" retail offer I might receive. How about you? Have you started your holiday shopping, and, if so, have you had a great experience? We'd love to hear about it.
Louis, I wonder how many people are in fact motivated to change their buying strategy because of an email offer. I know I personally don't have any time to shop till after Thanksgiving, so have been deliberately ignoring emails (from just a few select retailers; I took myself off lots of email lists over the summer). First the turkey, then Santa for me.
Maryam, maybe they're all too busy trying to figure out how to finesse their "showrooming" strategies -- keeping in-store shoppers hunting down comparative deals from leaving and buying elsewhere... You think?
Beth I agree the Christmas decorations and catalogs have been early but the deals have been few. The mobile side for me has been completely quiet and email is still a yawn a week before Black Friday! When the economy softened almost every retailer offered me free shipping and huge discounts before Black Friday, this year it's been almost silent. One big box store sent their flyer out with errors in functionality. I suspect the deals will start rolling in a little later this year with the extra shopping days in this holiday season.
@Maryam, I've been surprised by a couple of things this year. One, Christmas TV ads andc circulars appearing before Halloween. This may always have been the case, but they really just struck me for some reason now. Two, Christmas TV ads for retailers that I haven't ever noticed before. Crate & Barrel is one example. And, as Deloitte predicts, I would expect to see the advertising really kicking in now, post-election.
Holiday shopping has long been an interest of mine, this year the deals are just not there in my opinion I have found few great deals via email. In the past two years I started receiving great deals in early November, long before black Friday and I capitalized on them, this year nothing has been compelling. I did start shopping in the late summer early Fall and the deals were better than they are now. I am actually seeing higher prices right now.
Quality is so variable. I still have at t shirt I wear around the house that my 27 year old daughter bought at a cheap place called mandees when she was in high school! Conversely I have discarded similar shirts I purchased at nordstrom or j. Crew after a year.
@ Jeff, I am with you there. I would love to see a report on who sells the highest quality clothes. I recently purchased a pair of paints and was dismayed to see the seems come lose in just a week. but I bought them in a rush and didn't look at the stiching so it's my bad as well.
However, there are stores such as Forever 21, that are disposable fashion. Affordable designs that are in fashion and not meant to last long.
Recently, I did something I thought I would never do, I purchased two pairs of eye glasses online for $127, including spring hinges,thin lenses, UV protection and water repellent. Since I wear my contacts mostly, I really just want them for around the house. I'll let you know what I think when I receive them.
SAS Global Forum Executive Conference 2014 The Executive Conference is held in conjunction with SAS Global Forum, a SAS users technology event. Investing in thought leadership and technical training are two of the best moves a successful company can make so take advantage of the world-class speakers, sessions and discussions around Analytics, Big data, Risk, Fraud and Data management.
LEADERS FROM THE BUSINESS AND IT COMMUNITIES DUEL OVER CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY ISSUES
The Current Discussion
Visual Analytics: Who Carries the Onus? The Issue: Data visualization is an up-and-coming technology for businesses that want to deliver analytical results in a visual way, enabling analysts the ability to spot patterns more easily and business users to absorb the insight at a glance and better understand what questions to ask of the data. But does it make more sense to train everybody to handle the visualization mandate or bring on visualization expertise? Our experts are divided on the question. The Speakers: Hyoun Park, Principal Analyst, Nucleus Research; Jonathan Schwabish, US Economist & Data Visualizer
At the Strata Conference / Hadoop World 2013, Samuel Kommu, technical marketing engineer at Cisco Systems, shares some of the benefits that Hadoop brings to analytics platforms that leverage next-generation hardware. Kommu looks at big data operations that required 3,500 nodes in 2009, 2,000 in 2011, and now require only 64 nodes.
Wayne Thompson, manager of SAS Data Sciences Technologies, delivers a fascinating preview demonstration of SAS Visual Statistics, a tool that enables fast and flexible modeling against massive datasets on the fly. Visual Statistics will be made generally available in March, but you can see it here first.
At Strata/Hadoop World 2013, Cloudera CEO Tom Reilly discusses the new Enterprise Data Hub offering, explaining how it works with Hadoop, how it creates a single repository of full-history and full-fidelity data, and how it exposes that data to all users interested in exploratory analytics.
At this year's Strata Conference/Hadoop World 2013, SAS big data vice president Paul Kent presented a session on setting up Hadoop clusters for advanced analytics. We caught up with several audience members and recorded their impressions of the presentation.
In hearing directly from a doctorate-level Hadoop specialist, a healthcare data analyst, and a marketing executive, it's clear that big data analytics is a burgeoning field that cutting-edge companies are eager to explore.
At this year's Strata Conference/Hadoop World 2013 event, SAS VP of Big Data Paul Kent presented several sessions about modernizing and deploying advanced data analytics infrastructures based on Hadoop. In this video, he talks about the state of Hadoop adoption among enterprises today and looks out to the big data-driven applications of the future.
Companies that use SAS analytics tools for their traditional databases are looking to derive even more value by mining unstructured data. Data management platforms like Hortonworks enable that relationship by delivering an enterprise-ready Hadoop framework.
In this video, Shaun Connolly, vice president of corporate strategy at Hortonworks, explains how companies can incorporate Hadoop into their data analytics streams.
At the SAS Premier Business Leadership Series in Orlando, Manuel Sanchez, CRM Manager for Club Premier Aeromexico, explains the challenges and opportunities of transaction data. Using dozens of data sources among participating airlines and merchants, Club Premier creates robust customer profiles and works to maximize benefits for members and business partners alike while protecting individual privacy.
At SAS's October Premier Business Leadership Series (PBLS) in Orlando, attendees from the corporate and academic worlds joined thought leaders and analytics professionals to share insights and strategies around big data.
Will Hakes, CEO and co-founder of Link Analytics and keynote speaker at the SAS Analytics 2013 conference in Orlando, Fla., last month, talks candidly about the challenges that large enterprises face as they explore advanced analytics solutions. He also shares some practical tips for smoothing the transition.
At the SAS Analytics 2013 conference in Orlando, Bob Gladden, vice president for decision support and informatics at the Ohio nonprofit health insurance provider CareSource, explains how his company uses advanced analytics to keep administrative costs down and to identify at-risk patients for targeted healthcare initiatives.
At the Analytics 2013 conference in Orlando, Fla., two analytics experts from Dell -- global decision sciences manager Natalie Kortum and senior credit risk consultant Jack Chen -- share their real-world advice for analysts who want to sell their project ideas to business executives.
At the SAS Premier Business Leadership Series in Orlando, Fla., Lousiana State Representative Chris Broadwater outlined the state's success with analytics-driven fraud detection and shared his vision for streamlined processes at the DMV, the healthcare system, and even the department of corrections -- all delivered via a centralized repository of rich customer data.
Organizations that are ready to leverage big data need to move beyond buzzwords and approach the challenges with a business focus. Peter Guerra, principal at Booz Allen Hamilton, shares his insight and experience in helping clients transition to Hadoop and embrace new decision support platforms.
At this year's Strata Conference / Hadoop World 2013, Michael Steinhart chats with Rackspace Product Marketing Manager Sean Anderson about Hadoop, cloud computing, and how the two come together for companies that want to undertake a "proof of value" project.
With today's advanced visual analytics tools, you can stream data into memory for real-time processing, provide users the ability to explore and manipulate the data, and bring your data to life for the business.
Dynamic data visualizations let analysts and business users interact with the data, changing variables or drilling down into data points, and see results in a flash. Advance your use of data visualization with tools that support features like auto-charting, explanatory pop-ups, and mobile sharing.
No doubt your enterprise is amassing loads of data for fact-based decision-making. Hand in hand with all that data comes big computational requirements. Can traditional IT infrastructure handle the increasing number and complexity of your analytical work? Probably not, which is why you need a backend rethink. Big data calls for a high-performance analytics infrastructure, as Fern Halper, a partner at the IT consulting and research firm, Hurwitz & Associates, discusses here.
Redbox's bright-red DVD kiosks are all but ubiquitous these days, located in more than 28,000 spots across the country. Jayson Tipp, Redbox VP of Analytics and CRM, provides an insider's look at how the company has accomplished its phenomenal nine-year growth.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), a seven-brand global hotelier, has woven analytics into the fabric of its operations. David Schmitt, director of performance strategy and planning, shares IHG's analytics story and his lessons learned.