The Challenges of Clustering

As the seasons change and the weather starts to warm up, I found myself on the hunt for a new summer outfit – ideally a lightweight blouse paired with a matching skirt. While the merchandise I’m looking to buy isn’t necessarily relevant, the situation I found myself in is.

It’s the kind of situation consumers experience waaay too frequently and, frankly, a large reason why providing a stellar customer experience while improving sell-through is such a challenge for many retailers today. 

The story goes like this: 

I came across THE perfect blouse/skirt on a retailer’s e-commerce page. Sizing is always a potential issue so instead of making an online order, I resort to a brick-and-mortar visit.

As I make my way to this retailer’s store, ready and willing to spend, I ultimately find:

  1. The blouse isn’t available at that particular location
  2. The skirt isn’t available in the size or color I wanted
  3. The sales associate was super unhelpful (irrelevant to the point I’m trying to make – but argh—still worth noting) 

Okay, fine. It happens. How was the retailer to know I was going to waltz into their Newbury location looking for product A and product B?

The thing is, businesses “doing retail right” do know – and plan their assortment accordingly. Successful retailers know when it comes to finalizing their assortment plan for the upcoming season, they must rely on truly localized demand to ensure they stock the right product at the right location (and in this particular instance, in the right color and size).

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Topics: allocation, assortment optimization, customer experience, merchandise planning, customer choice, merchandise buy, retail clustering, customer preference

Subscription Services Replacing Traditional Loyalty Programs? A Look at 4 Retail Subscription Services

Nowadays it seems like everything is based on a month-to-month subscription. Just think of all the subscription services you’re paying for right now (at least four come to mind for me).

While the subscription-based model isn’t entirely new—originally pioneered by newspapers and magazines—it continues to grow in popularity. Some of the most recognized subscription services include media streaming companies like Netflix or Spotify, which you're probably using today (if not, I'd say it's safe to assume you're likely out of the loop on the daily water cooler talk). 

Regardless of whether you're up-to-date on the latest Netflix series or not, it seems like lately more and more retailers are getting in on the action with the subscription-based model, offering direct-to-consumer services on a frequent (typically monthly) basis. 

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Topics: subscription boxes, ecommerce, consumer insights, consumer spending, direct-to-consumer, loyalty programs, customer choice

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