Guest Post: The Digital Transformation of Retail

By ShiSh Shridhar, WW Director of Business Intelligence – Retail Sector, Microsoft

You go shopping; let’s say it’s a national hardware store because you have a painting project you’ve decided to tackle this weekend. You have done your research online, chosen the paint and now you are at the store to pick up your supplies and get started. But, when you reach the section with the paintbrushes, you realize you’re not exactly sure what you need. You stand there for a moment trying to figure it out, and then you start looking around, hoping a sales associate will appear. And one does! She’s smiling, and she’s an expert in paints and yes, she can direct you to the brush you need — and reminds you to pick up some blue tape.

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Shopping miracle?

No, shopping future. This kind of positive customer experience is one of the many ways that artificial intelligence (AI), sophisticated data gathering, and the cloud are being used to empower employees, bring consumers into stores, and shorten the path to purchase. These advancements help brick and mortar retailers compete with online retailers in today’s world. It’s the digital transformation of retail, and it’s happening now in ways big and small.

AI + Data = Retail Revolution

This transformation is driven by data, which today can come from any number of sources. In this example (a product called Floor Sense from Microsoft partner company Mindtree), the data is collected from security cameras already in place throughout the store. The cameras capture footage of how people move through space, where they stop and what they do as they shop. The video feed is then analyzed using AI that has been trained to understand how a customer acts when he or she needs help. When that behavior is recognized, a sales associate with the right expertise is sent to talk to the customer and help the customer make a decision.

But a store’s proprietary data is only the tip of the iceberg. Today, there are millions of data points that are either publicly available or easy to purchase from companies like Experian and Acxiom. Retailers can combine that demographic data with their existing CRM data to model behavior and build micro-segmentations of their customer base. Insights from that narrow analysis allow retailers to personalize, predict and incentivize in ways that are far more accurate than ever before.

Putting data insights into the hands of employees

Already, that kind of analysis has helped make online shopping more productive with relevant, timely offers. The next step for retailers is to learn how to make data-driven insights useful to store employees, as in the hardware store example, so they can enhance the customer’s in-store experience. The data could come from a customer’s interactions with the retailer’s app, chat bots, social media, in-store beacons or Wi-Fi, all of which, when compiled, allows a retailer to make extremely accurate inferences about a given customer’s behavior.

Managed well, those insights help a store employee serve a customer better. Managed poorly, personalized targeting in-store has the potential to spook customers. To handle it well, retailers must do two things: First, any in-store tracking should be done through a consumer opt-in, with transparency about how the retailer will use the information. Second, the customer deserves a good value exchange; it must be clear to her how she is benefitting from sharing her information with the retailer, and how her information contributes to delivering her a frictionless shopping experience.

Using a customer’s digital exhaust to everyone’s benefit

As consumers explore purchasing options and develop their preferences using search tools, social media, apps, and in-store visits with a device in hand they leave behind a digital exhaust. Today, advances in AI, data aggregation, and the cloud allow retailers to collect that digital exhaust to generate a style profile of prospective customers, which can then be used to introduce those customers to other products they might like. In this so-called phygital world — where the physical and digital overlap — retailers can combine data from multiple places to make inferences that will help them sharpen their marketing approach. The techniques are at hand — now, it’s up to creative retailers to find innovative ways to use those insights to inspire their customers, and shorten the path to purchase.

This article was originally posted on Independent Retailer.

Executive Evening Out with eSage Group and Microsoft

On March 10th, eSage Group held its first Executive Evening Out at the exclusive Rainier Club in Downtown Seattle. The event was sponsored by Microsoft Advanced Analytics.

On March 10th, eSage Group held its first Executive Evening Out at the exclusive Rainier Club in Downtown Seattle.  The event was sponsored by Microsoft Advanced Analytics.

15 Seattle area executives, from the likes of Starbucks, Trupanion, Allrecipes, Alaska Air, Disney and their guests joined us for a short presentation by Shish Shridhar, Worldwide Director for Business Intelligence Solutions – Retail for Microsoft, then sat down to a 5 course meal with wine pairings presented by The Rainier Club sommelier.

Microsoft has a powerful offering, from Azure Machine Learning, Cortana Analytics Suite, SQL 2016 and PowerBI. It was definitely a learning experience along with a wonderful meal and wines.

 

A Year in Review – LA and Seattle MeetUps

It was quite a year for both the LA and Seattle Marketing Analytic MeetUps! We had terrific speakers share on current topics! In LA, we had Nevious Osborne of Beats by Dre talking effective dashboards, Peter Taylor of Belkin talking IoT analytics and Punnoose Isaac of Edmunds.com talking on how to build an analytics infrastructure, just to name a few!  Check out the full list here.

Not to be outdone, Seattle had Jeremy Boore of Expedia talk Storytelling and Analytics, Chris Proser of Adobe talk about going beyond A/B testing, Kyle Wieranga of Costco talk on moving from Predictive to Prescriptive Analytics, Shish Shirdar from Microsoft talk Machine Learning, and Ed Mabanglo from Nordstrom talk time-to-event analysis to measure customer tenure. Check out the full list here.

2016 is proving to be great with Tania Massad from Mattel presenting in LA and Brian Behuin from Alaska Air presenting in Seattle.

Make sure to become a member for the Seattle and/or LA Marketing Analytic MeetUps to receive notices of upcoming events!

 

 

 

What is the Internet of Things? Why should marketers care? RSVP Now to find out!

Internet of ThingsPlease join us in this lively evening event sponsored and organized by eSage Group with co-sponsors Pointmarc and Cloudera. Hear a panel of industry experts from the areas of Wearables, Home Security/Automation, and Automotive:

Duane Bedard from eSage Group, a thought leader in the marketing analytics space, will moderate a discussion delving into the Internet of Things, where are we today, what the future holds and how marketers can best be prepared to take advantage of it to improve effectiveness of marketing campaigns and develop new revenue streams.

The Learning Lounge is presented with PSAMA and DAA.

Details:

When: May 15, 2014 Time: 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Where: Club Sur 2109 First Avenue South SODO, just south of the Starbucks Center
Cost: $25 includes beverages (alcoholic and non) and appetizers Parking is free and readily available after 6pm on First and side streets.

RSVP Now IoT

 Check out the cool digs!

SUR Montage

DONT MISS IT!

 

Just announced! eSage Group’s Internet of Things Learning Lounge – May 15th

iot3A First-Hand Conversation on the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things will profoundly re-shape marketing. As objects in all corners of our lives become connected to the web what does it mean for brands and customers? To help provide insight, and a lively discussion, eSage Group and PSAMA has arranged a premium collection of senior-level thinkers from some of the area’s strongest brands, all together on one panel.

See first-hand how Alaska Airlines is evolving air travel, how Vivint is revolutionizing digital homes and how Nike continues to be an innovator in wearables all through understanding the opportunities from the Internet of Things.

Learning Lounge: An All-New Event Format

At the Learning Lounge, Seattle Marketing Analytics Group, PSAMA members, and non-members alike are invited to join together for an evening at SUR, one of Seattle’s most talked-about venues. Enjoy food and drink (ticket prices includes cocktails and light hors d’oeuvres) while learning from some of the Northwest’s most innovative brands how the Internet of Things is starting to re-shape marketing.

Expert Panel:

Details:

Date: May 15th, 21014

Location: Club SUR, SODO, 2901 1st Avenue S

Time: 6pm

Tickets are $25 for all Seattle Marketing Analytics Group members!

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Register here!

Special Thanks to our co-sponsors!

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The Learning Lounge is replacing the normal monthly MeetUp at Fado’s for the month of May. We will return to normal in June. 

If folks like it, The Learning Lounge will hopefully become a quarterly (or so) event.

The Shish List – Big Data at MarketMix

This article was posted by Shish Shirhar, Global Director of Big Data, Retail. He was one of our Making Big Data Smart Data panelists for last week’s PSAMA MarketMix.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/shishirs/archive/2014/03/27/bigdata-at-marketmix.aspx0312_MarketMix1_thumb_13BAE14D

Thanks to Duane Bedard & Tina Munro of eSageGroup, I participated in a panel discussion at MarketMix with the brilliant Data Scientists: Jason Gowans of Nordstrom and Jon Francis of Nike. Duane Bedard did an excellent job of moderating the conversation.  I love his skill of condensing everything we said to short soundbytes that were ready to go on twitter 🙂 , and they did with hashtag #MarketMix.

Jon Francis shared interesting insights on the work he does on the ecommerce business at Nike. Jason Gowans runs the Nordstrom Data Lab and shared his perspectives on what it takes to walk the thin line between providing great customer experience through personalization and becoming “creepy”. We discussed where Big Data has proven value and where it has disappointed; talked about how Marketers can benefit from Big Data Analytics and what kind of data is useful for enhancing insights.

I spoke with several people in the audience after the session and one of the questions that stood out was: “How can we start small, working with multiple data sources?” My recommendation is to have a look at a tool that you most likely already have: Excel. Excel 2013 has some interesting new capabilities with PowerBI. The democratization of data and the democratization of tools is empowering everyone to get started working with multiple datasets, combine them and create great visualizations to derive insights. Check out some of the examples from my previous blog posts:

  1. Analyzing Seattle 911 Data using PowerBI
  2. Using Power Map to Analyze Public Retailer Data
  3. Visualizing Wal-mart
  4. Lets visualize Beer because it’s 5 pm somewhere
  5. How To: Visualize Real Time Flight Data & Correlate with Local Airport Weather

This Just In….LA Marketing Analytics Group Teaches Attendees About Using Data Science to Inform Values Based Marketing Campaigns

Thank You!
…to everyone who joined us last Tuesday night for Ravi Iyer’s presentation on Using Data Science to Inform Values Based Marketing Campaigns. The slide deck from his presentation is now posted in our “Files” library at the LA Marketing Analytics Group home page: Group Homepage. Ravi Iyer is the Chief Data Scientist for Ranker and a consultant on Zenzi’s Social Values project.  He combines years of technical expertise with a PhD in psychology from the University of Southern California.  He publishes regularly in top scholarly journals and his research on moral psychology has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, the Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, and at South by Southwest Interactive.

Here’s what Ravi covered on Tuesday night:
Many companies are seeking to align their brands with the values of their consumers.  However, values can mean many things to many people.  Successfully micro-targeting the right people with the right message is essential for forward thinking marketers in the age of “big data”.  In his talk, Ravi blended case studies, academic research, and techniques from data science to show practical ideas on how your next marketing campaign can leverage data to inform a more meaningful, value-based connection with customers. We explored concepts like “Why do people buy things?”, “Big Data applied to values”, and “Predicting things that matter.” Ravi’s presentation was a wonderful mix of psychology and marketing data analytics tenets, all of which he spoke about from real world experience using his psychology and data sciences background.

eSage Group and American Marketing Association Los Angeles are excited to bring you this monthly speaker series every first Tuesday of the month. We always enjoy an evening of light appetizers, beer and wine provided by eSage Group: a systems integration and analytics consultancy combining heavy lifting technical chops with front end analytics. We help organizations rapidly integrate and transform customer data across disparate sources and perform powerful cross-channel analytics to derive deeper insight and extract maximum value from marketing and sales data.

Thanks again to all who attended, and sorry we missed those of you who couldn’t make it.
We hope to see you all next month at our Making Big Data Smart Data: The Actionable Insight Journey panel discussion with panelists from Beats by Dre, PR Newswire, and Live Analytics.

Author: Rob Lawrence is Business Development Representative in Southern California for eSage Group, President Elect 2014-15 for The American Marketing Association and Organizer of the monthly first Tuesday LA Marketing and Analytics Group.

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