The Record Issue 11: Winter 2018

111  R E TA I L V I EWPO I NT Why customer data is crucial in retail Beni Basel from ciValue outlines the key technologies that can help retailers deliver engaging shopping experiences Retailers worldwide face three major challenges when it comes to delivering an exciting and engaging shopping experience for customers across physical and digital channels. The first is that they find it difficult to gain actionable insights from data about customers’ demographics, behaviour and purchases. Second, they do not have a true understanding of customer preferences, which makes it difficult to predict their future needs. And finally, they are not leveraging a retail ecosystem that connects them with key suppliers and distributors and enables them to create win-win situations for customers and everyone in the supply chain. However, there are several digital innovations that retailers can adopt to gain the insights they need to cater to customers’ preferences and exceed their expectations. Big data platforms help retailers to process data and create insights in a fast and agile way. Meanwhile, artificial intelligence (AI) technology helps them to deeply understand their data, provide true personalisation and continuously predict how customers’ needs and preferences will change and evolve. Plus, retailers can use marketing collaboration capabilities to provide suppliers with insights about the performance of their brands and also give them the functionalities to offer promotions to relevant customers. CiValue is a Microsoft Azure-based platform that leverages big data and AI to provide fast moving consumer goods retailers with timely customer insights, hyper-personalised marketing, and marketing collaboration with business partners and suppliers all in one platform. The solution helps retailers to better understand and engage with customers, while optimising collaboration with business partners. Beni Basel is founder and CEO of ciValue “IoT sensors can track shoppers’ movements in store, capturing data about the aisles they visit, how long they spend in those areas, which items they pick up and more,” says Shridhar. “When combined with transaction and other data, this can help retailers to build a better picture of each customer. These sensors can also be used to unite the digital and physical customer experi- ence, collapsing the online/offline divide to help retailers converse with customers in the store, or use connected apps and devices to interact with them while they are at home, work, or on the go.” Microsoft and its strong ecosystem of retail partners – such as Adobe, Affinio, Amperity, Manthan and Redpoint Global – have developed multiple solutions to provide retailers with the tools and capabilities they need to better under- stand their customers. “Retailers can use the Microsoft Data Platform to build the capabilities they need to ingest data from various sources and store it in one platform, while the comprehensive Microsoft Artificial Intelligence software platform enables them to gather intelligence and insights from this data to drive action,” says Shridhar. “They can also imple- ment the Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing automation application to develop tailored mar- keting campaigns and communications that turn prospects into business relationships.” By using these technologies to unlock insights into their customers’ preferences, retailers are also able to find new ways to optimise operations. “Shopper data can be combined with con- textual information about factors that influ- ence buying decisions – such as the weather, socio-economic trends and geographical loca- tion – and used to make accurate inventory and stock management decisions,” says Shridhar. “This empowers retailers to create hyper-local inventories for individual stores, predict optimum product pricing and track product demand and stock levels in real time so they can reduce out-of-stocks. It’s clear to see why these tools and technologies are transforming the concept of shopping; they empower retailers to deliver the types of intuitive, personalised and engaging experiences that will set them apart from the competition in future.”