Magazine Article | August 20, 2008

Right-Time Actions Give Competitive Edge

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

Employees who are empowered to provide prompt customerassistance contribute to streamlining inventory levels and maximizing revenue.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, September 2008

Having the right product on the right shelf at the right time and at the right price may sound simple. However, retailers with a complex supply chain, a growing cadre of domestic and foreign competitors, and a vast amount of information to manage know differently. To remain competitive, retailers consistently must monitor and respond to customers' changing tastes, maintain a rich localized assortment of products, and reduce out-of-stock occurrences. Traditionally, these have been daunting challenges.

Maximize Returns On BI Investments
For years, enterprises have used traditional BI (business intelligence) to support strategic and tactical decisions. In the current fast-paced retail industry, companies are looking for solutions that provide real-time information for right-time actions to stay ahead of the competition. Retailers cannot afford to wait months, weeks, or days for timely data analysis to help make proactive and actionable decisions necessary for efficient day-to-day operations. Many companies are turning to OBI (operational business intelligence) solutions to maximize return on BI investments, provide profitable customer service, and achieve their goals.

OBI represents a powerful shift in the evolution of BI and its value to a business. Putting essential information into the hands of workers in merchandising, marketing, store operations, and e-centers enables workers with the most interaction with customers to make thousands of timely decisions, maximize revenue, streamline inventory levels, and improve customer service. OBI compares current business events with historical patterns, detecting problems and enabling corrective actions that optimize business outcomes across an enterprise.

Enable Staff To Be Proactive
OBI offers great opportunities for retailers to enhance the customer experience, maximize profitable sales, and build customer loyalty by enabling their operations staff to be proactive. Common uses for OBI include:
n monitoring demand signals, especially during promotions and new product introductions, to alert potential out-of-stocks and suggest corrective actions to increase sales and improve customer satisfaction
n cross-sell and upsell opportunities at each point of contact based on an up-to-date customer shopping history and customer intelligence 
n instant notification to the right store locations to recall all contaminated products as alerted by the first customer complaint — improving safety, compliance, and customer perception
n efficient returns processing with reduced fraud based on a 24/7 central repository of detailed POS transactions
n mobile interactions (customer relationship management) to target the large segment of Generation Y consumers with e-coupons, personalized offers, and on-demand information.

Provide Full Visibility At All Times
OBI is a growing initiative in all industries, including retail and consumer packaged goods. In fact, Gartner estimates that by the end of 2009, 90% of Global 2000 companies will have mission-critical BI and data warehouse systems, up from less than 25% in 2007. The ability to gather real-time data, analyze it, and deliver timely information to operational users is increasingly critical to maintaining a competitive advantage. OBI helps guard against a small problem becoming a corporate catastrophe. Providing full visibility across the supply and demand chain at all times is essential.