Evolution: The General Store to the Individualized Shopper

The retail industry has seen a major transformation since its evolution. Tracing back to the 18th century where the concept of retail was limited to a “general store” the industry has now grown to the concept of the “individualized shopper.” Initially, the power lay with the merchants, then it was shifted to “brands” and then to “big-box chain stores.” Today the power has shifted squarely to the consumer. This new consumer is empowered – primarily through online and social channels – with nearly limitless options on their path to purchase. The industry is beginning to recognize that the experience they offer, whether in store or online, must be centered on this new consumer reality.

Individualized shoppers will gravitate towards products and experiences that offer individual focus, interaction and involvement in the entire value chain process. They will desire products and experiences they perceive as meeting their unique needs. Retailers need to redefine who they are and what they do in ways that align with changing consumer value perceptions. The result will likely be a sharp reappraisal of the traditional retail industry business model. With effective use of advanced data mining technologies, customized outreach and superior customer service, retailers will be able to retain their existing market share as well as increase it. Retailers who offer differentiated offerings, a high quality shopping experiences and appropriate pricing will clearly emerge as winners.

Here is an example of an “individualized shopping experience” that can be offered by a restaurant chain. Assume that you are stepping into a food court during lunch time where all the major fast food chains are present. As soon as you step in, you get an email alert from one of them –  20% off on your favorite meal. The probability of you walking to that restaurant will be high in this case.

Let’s see the technology behind this:






To make this happen we need a sensor which captures the mobile phone number through GPRS, sends the message to the ‘coupon engine’ which enhances the phone number with customer name, email address and favorite meal details from the customer database, gets discount details from the coupon database and sends it to the customer via email or SMS. The same information can also be stored in a data warehouse, which when combined with the daily sales information can give details like whether or not the customer bought the meal, the percentage of success of certain campaigns, etc.

If we were to use the Informatica Platform in the whole process, it would look like this: we can use Informatica Ultra Messaging to take the data from the sensor and pass it on to PowerCenter, which in turn can be used to look up the customer database (standardized using Informatica MDM) as well as a coupon database, enrich the information and process the same.

Comments or suggestions?

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