Why data is the most powerful tool for retailers this festive season

The festive season is fast approaching, and with that comes the dynamic, fast-paced and competitive peak shopping period.

According to Near Research, Australian consumers are planning to spend more this holiday season compared to last year. They are taking steps to make the most of their holiday budget, with 93% seeking the best deals and 68% planning to kick off shopping before Black Friday.

Retailers can be using this time to engage with customers, retain loyalty and exceed revenue targets. But in the midst of a fiercely saturated market with shifting consumer behaviours, how can you cut through the noise?

This is where data comes into play. Retailers need to invest in securely utilising data from both online and offline interactions, as this will help unlock data-driven insights and opportunities for retail success. Leveraging this data to its best ability will enhance consumer relationships and lead to tangible business results — ultimately enabling your retail business to provide better customer experiences this festive season.

Personalised experiences = happy customers

With personalisation becoming an ever-growing consumer expectation today, optimising customer data to create individualised experiences goes a long way in building trust & loyalty. Having the ability to deliver on this will depend on the robustness of the digital and data infrastructure, as the requirement will be to capture and process information of your shoppers across multiple touchpoints to build a customer 360- a unique view into your shopper’s behaviour, trends and preferences. To achieve this, building a customer data platform becomes the foundational element for establishing a holistic understanding of your customers to deliver a privacy-centric shopper engagement platform.

Integrated tools such as Google Cloud’s Recommendations AI can take the data even further, delivering real-time bespoke recommendations and allowing retailers to anticipate and predict their  customer needs, thereby creating a highly personalised and superior service experience

Getting ahead of the supply chain

Against the backdrop of global supply chain issues, stock availability and fast delivery are front and centre in every shopper’s mind. However, inventory optimisation and last-mile delivery still are big challenges in retail today. It is therefore imperative for retailers to get better prepared by leveraging technologies and data-driven insights to optimise and fortify their supply chain.

The first step is to get better visibility and transparency by creating a digital twin of your supply chain. Having real-time end-to-end visibility, alert-driven event management, analytics, and collaboration across your teams will help streamline your supply chain, enabling you to make informed decisions to mitigate any delays or setbacks.  In addition, it will also help in managing customer expectations during the busy festive season, such as letting them know when it will arrive on the doorstep or where they can find the product in-store.

Second, to avoid excess inventory piling up (which is frequently the case during the holidays), retailers can build robust demand forecasting models using AI platforms like Google Cloud’s Vertex AI which in turn can help in reducing wastage and unwarranted discounting during this festive season. Delivering on these elements will not only contribute to the bottom line but also create a quality shopping experience end-to-end, as trust is built on transparent communication between the business and customers.

Security and trust go hand in hand. Cloud adoption can lead the way.

Juggling multiple datasets across the organisation can be time-extensive, inefficient and susceptible to security concerns. Modernising the data warehouse and shifting to a cloud-based platform can help retailers ensure the utmost data security in today’s privacy-centric environment. Moreover, consolidating multiple data silos to build a unified retail data platform will enable retailers to build a system of insight with capabilities to make informed decisions by processing & analysing streams of data in real-time.

Take Country Road Group and David Jones for example. Having experienced a 50% increase in requests for data analytics, the marketing teams found that manually pulling insights from multiple dashboards and developing comprehensive insights had become incredibly time-consuming. Working with Cloud service providers, they restructured their data warehouse with Google Cloud’s BigQuery and Looker to better explore, share and visualise the company’s supplier and campaign data. This optimisation enabled the team to cut down on the time invested in manual reporting, with pre-built data models and custom-built analytics on hand for any specific retail needs and insights.

Data is the most powerful tool when it comes to facing this year’s festive season and beyond. The key lies in adopting and leveraging cloud technologies to consolidate, analyse and activate this data to digitally transform the business. In doing so, retailers will be able to drive profitable growth coupled with superior customer experience, retention and loyalty while positioning themselves for the future. What are you waiting for?  

Sameer Dhingra is director retail & consumer of Google Cloud.

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