The Biggest Takeaway from NRF 2019? Optimize Everything.

The word “optimize” was littered across the expo floor at NRF 2019.

From shelf space to e-commerce basket sizes to your in-store workforce – every process across the retail value chain seems to be begging for optimization. “Frictionless,” “efficient,” and “seamless” were the all-encompassing descriptors used to entice interest and engagement among attendees perusing the aisles for technology solutions, ideas, or (let’s be real) free giveaway swag. 

The need for optimization is unequivocal as retail organizations are tasked with executing costly decisions on a daily basis at a tremendous scale. Yet how to approach this problem is less than certain when there are numerous opportunities to improve decisions at each stage of the retail process. Whether your current struggle hinges on production, inventory, store operations, or last mile fulfillment — whatever the challenge may be — the technology available today will enable retailers to glean insights into the mountainous amount of data they have. 

Based on our observations at the big show in NYC, it’s apparent retailers must prioritize investments in tools like artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics to make the optimal decisions to meet the ever-evolving needs of their customers.

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Topics: brick-and-mortar retail, artificial intelligence, advanced analytics, retail trends, retail technology, NRF2019, inventory optimization, fulfillment optimization, allocation, demand prediction

4 Revealing Stats About AI in Retail You Need to Know

“Artificial intelligence (AI) offers the prospect of a frictionless existence, making us more efficient, helping us prevent mistakes, spotting the onset of potential problems before they become problems, and enabling us to spend more time on the things that really matter to us.” – Paul Clarke, CTO of UK-based online supermarket Ocado

Strategic planning for 2019 is underway as the new year unfolds. Findings from the holiday season, so far, appear cautiously optimistic as sales rose 5.1 percent to over $850 billion – the strongest in six years, according to a Mastercard report.

However, the itch for opportunity and disruption never subsides in an industry wrought with constant change. After years of navigating the tumultuous retail market, many brands are embracing advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for a chance to resurface for a gasp of fresh air. Considered by Gartner “transformational” and “high-benefit” technologies, AI and advanced analytics will enable new ways for retailers to do business that will result in “major industry dynamic shifts” and “significant revenue increase or cost savings.” Here are four revealing findings about AI in retail you need to know going into 2019:

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Topics: brick-and-mortar retail, artificial intelligence, advanced analytics, retail trends, retail technology

3 Practical Reasons Retailers Should Adopt AI in 2019

In the world of retail, the goal is simple: sell product. 

However, reaching that goal is a completely different story. When you throw competition, customer expectations, stores, inventory, logistics, and fulfillment into the mix, things reach a whole new level of complexity. The challenge is really two-fold:

  1. ) First, demand is seemingly unpredictable, with a multitude of factors influencing a consumer’s desire to want to buy something. 
  2. ) Secondly, there’s the issue of optimization – how can retailers leverage their inventory more productively? 

Overcoming these challenges requires retailers to better predict demand and optimize their inventory decisions more effectively to ultimately maximize every opportunity for a sale. Artificial intelligence and advanced analytics technologies are growing to be the tools of choice for retailers when it comes to optimizing inventories as customer expectations force retailers to invest heavily in digital capabilities.

Many retailers, according to Gartner, are “simply not optimizing their most significant assets.” What asset is more important than a retailer’s inventory? Here are three reasons retailers should adopt AI for inventory optimization in 2019:

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Topics: brick-and-mortar retail, merchandise planning, data, inventory, e-commerce, demand prediction, order fulfillment, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, allocation, markdowns

Why the Biggest Problem with AI is Human

Every brand in retail is talking about AI. We’ve read the reports, the articles, and the survey results about all the different pain points AI can solve for retailers. From all the chatter around groundbreaking innovations and the changing retail industry, brands understand this need for technology in order to adapt. 

And there isn’t a shortage of technology solutions out there either—retailers have a ton of options. 

Understanding this need, the need for tech, then why is it so difficult to actually adopt? Why are retailers still struggling to keep margins afloat and adapt to the digital consumer? 

What’s the biggest problem with AI in retail?

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Topics: inventory optimization, data, advanced analytics, digital transformation, artificial intelligence, machine learning

A New Mentality: Advanced Analytics for the 'New Retail'

It’s a telling time for retail. In spite of the brief reassurance from last year’s unexpected boost in sales, there’s still a lot of work to do. A fundamental shift in the way things were done in the past is finally unraveling across the industry, and is best encompassed by one recent announcement from Nordstrom after their Q4 earnings reports:

“Nordstrom will no longer separately report sales made online and in-store when releasing financial results. The Seattle-based retailer announced the change Thursday as it reported its fourth-quarter and year-end earnings. Nordstrom said reporting the sales figures as one allows it to more closely represent the company's focus on brands rather than channels, Chief Financial Officer Anne Bramman said. The change is part of a larger shift away from the legacy store view of its business to an omnichannel view that combines the physical and digital experiences, she said.”The Puget Sound Business Journal

This announcement is powerfully revealing to the position many retailers are in today. Many are at a crossroads where they can either sink or swim against the forceful current of increasingly complex consumer expectations and demands.

The fact a major retailer like Nordstrom is combining earnings from both online and offline only goes to show they’re swimming hard against this current—and a better representation of how they’re delivering to customers is necessary to stay afloat and strategically execute properly.  

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Topics: artificial intelligence, machine learning, inventory optimization, omnichannel

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