Category Archives: Real-Time
The challenge for supermarkets today is balancing the needs of the customer against their ability to serve those needs. How are supermarkets and food manufacturers preparing their business for e-readiness? What about more customer centricity?
Currently, brands are not particularly good at serving consistent product information across in-store and online environments, leading to lower conversions and poor customer satisfaction. This shortfall is also preventing these brands from moving forward and innovating with new technologies. As a result, Product Information Management (PIM) is becoming a significant focus in effective omnichannel initiatives.
Consider the large range of products that can be seen at the average grocery store. The sheer number of categories is staggering, before you even consider the quantity of items in each category. There’s little wonder of local brands are struggling to replicate this level of product data anywhere else but on their store shelves.
Furthermore, consider the various kinds of information supermarkets are expected to include. Then, add to this the kinds of information supermarkets could include in order to present a competitive advantage over and above the rest. Information types currently possible are: Ingredients, additives, Images and videos, marketing copy, gene manipulation information, references, product seals, allergens, nutritional facts, translations, product categories, expiration/use-by dates, variants, region-specific information, GSDN information and more.
Ultimately, supermarkets are already on the path of improving consumers’ shopping experience and a few of the emerging technologies indicate the way this industry will continue to evolve.
6 Examples of food retail and supermarket trends
The below six examples demonstrate an emerging trend in grocery shopping, while also highlighting the need for accurate product information creation, curation and distribution.
- Ready-to-cook product bundles: Nice and very customer facing concept is done by German food retailer www.kochhaus.de (meaning house of cooking). The only offer product bundles of all ingredients which are required to cook a certain meal for the required number of guests. It can be seen as the look books which are well established at fashion brands and retailers sales strategy.
- Self-checkout Systems – More supermarkets are beginning to include self-checkouts. American and UK companies lead, Germany or Australia are behind. But there is the same risk of cart abandonment here as there is online, so providing a comprehensive and rich suite of product information at these POS systems is crucial.
- In-store Information Kiosks – Some supermarkets are beginning to include interactive displays in-store, with some even providing tablets mounted onto shopping trolleys. These displays serve in place of an in-store sales assistant, providing consumers with directions, promotions and complete access to product information (such as stock levels) on any item in the store.
- Supermarket Pop-ups – Food retailers are increasingly experimenting and improving the traditional shopping experience. One example that has turned the bricks-and-mortar concept on its head is electronic shopping ‘walls’, where products are prominently displayed in a high-traffic area. Consumers are able to access product details and make purchases by scanning a code presented alongside the image of a given product.
- Store-to-door Delivery Services – It’s starting to become commonplace. Not only are supermarkets offering same-day delivery services, the major brands are also experimenting with click and collect services. These supermarkets are moving toward websites that are just as busy and provide as much, if not more relevant content as their bricks-and-mortar outlets.
- App Commerce: Companies, like German food retailer Edeka offer an app for push marketing, or help matching customer profiles of dietary or allergy profiles with QR-code scanned products on the shopping list within the supermarket app.
What is next?
The supermarket of the future:
Reviving Customer Loyalty with leveraging information potential
Due to the increased transparency brought on by the ‘Google Era’, retailers have experienced a marked decline in customer loyalty. This concept of omnichannel shopping behaviour has led previously loyal customers to shop elsewhere.
Putting customers in the centre of all retail activities may not be a new trend, but in order to achieve it, retailers must foster more intelligent touch points. The supermarkets of the future will combine both product and customer data in such a way that every touch point presents a uniquely personalised experience for the customer, and a single, 360-degree view of the customer to the retailer.
The major supermarket brands already have comprehensive customer loyalty programs and they’re building on these with added products, such as consumer insurance packages. However, these initiatives haven’t necessarily led to an increase in loyalty.
Instead, the imperative to create a personal, intimate connection with consumers will eventually lead to a return in loyalty. The supermarket of the future will be able to send recipe and shopping list recommendations directly to the shopper’s preferred device, taking into account any allergies or delivery preferences.
Gamification as a tool for loyalty?
Moreover, this evolution will slowly lead into another phase of loyalty marketing: gamification. Comprehensive and detailed product data will form the basis of a loyalty program that includes targets, goals and rewards for loyal customers. The more comprehensive and engaging these shopping ‘games’ become, the more successful they will be from a marketing and loyalty perspective. However, the demands for detailed, accurate product information will also increase accordingly.
Private side note: My wife likes the simple Edaka App Game, where users need to cut slices of sausages. The challenge you need to hit exactly the weight the customer requires, like the in-store associate.
Those supermarkets that can deploy these initiatives first – and continue to innovate beyond this point – will have a bright future. Those that lag behind when it comes to leveraging their information and real time process might quickly begin to fade away.
What can I cook of my fridge remains?
I have been working all week long on the next year planning, so my fridge was not feeded well this week. Being almost empty the asks are
- What products are left?
- When do they expire?
- What can I cook of my fridge leftovers? (receipts)
- Where do I get the missing items for dinner with my wife? – And for which price
- Do they all match with my dietary and here allergy to nuts?
- Can I order online?
- When will they get delivered?
- What things can make our evening a success? The right wine recommendation? Two candles?
Well it is up to your imagination which products also can be sold in addition to make the customer happy and create a nice candle light dinner… But at least a good reason to increase the assortment.
Unlike some of my friends, History was a subject in high school and college that I truly enjoyed. I particularly appreciated biographies of favorite historical figures because it painted a human face and gave meaning and color to the past. I also vowed at that time to navigate my life and future under the principle attributed to Harvard professor Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás that goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
So that’s a little ditty regarding my history regarding history.
Forwarding now to the present in which I have carved out my career in technology, and in particular, enterprise software, I’m afforded a great platform where I talk to lots of IT and business leaders. When I do, I usually ask them, “How are you implementing advanced projects that help the business become more agile or effective or opportunistically proactive?” They usually answer something along the lines of “this is the age and renaissance of data science and analytics” and then end up talking exclusively about their meat and potatoes business intelligence software projects and how 300 reports now run their business.
Then when I probe and hear their answer more in depth, I am once again reminded of THE history quote and think to myself there’s an amusing irony at play here. When I think about the Business Intelligence systems of today, most are designed to “remember” and report on the historical past through large data warehouses of a gazillion transactions, along with basic, but numerous shipping and billing histories and maybe assorted support records.
But when it comes right down to it, business intelligence “history” is still just that. Nothing is really learned and applied right when and where it counted – AND when it would have made all the difference had the company been able to react in time.
So, in essence, by using standalone BI systems as they are designed today, companies are indeed condemned to repeat what they have already learned because they are too late – so the same mistakes will be repeated again and again.
This means the challenge for BI is to reduce latency, measure the pertinent data / sensors / events, and get scalable – extremely scalable and flexible enough to handle the volume and variety of the forthcoming data onslaught.
There’s a part 2 to this story so keep an eye out for my next blog post History Repeats Itself (Part 2)
Everyone knows that Informatica is the Data Integration company that helps organizations connect their disparate software into a cohesive and synchronous enterprise information system. The value to business is enormous and well documented in the form of use cases, ROI studies and loyalty / renewal rates that are industry-leading.
Event Processing, on the other hand is a technology that has been around only for a few years now and has yet to reach Main Street in Systems City, IT. But if you look at how event processing is being used, it’s amazing that more people haven’t heard about it. The idea at its core (pun intended) is very simple – monitor your data / events – those things that happen on a daily, hourly, minute-ly basis and then look for important patterns that are positive or negative indicators, and then set up your systems to automatically take action when those patterns come up – like notify a sales rep when a pattern indicates a customer is ready to buy, or stop that transaction, your company is about to be defrauded.
Since this is an Informatica blog, then you probably have a decent set of “muscles” in place already and so why, you ask, would you need 6 pack abs? Because 6 packs abs are a good indication of a strong musculature core and are the basis of a stable and highly athletic body. It’s the same parallel for companies because in today’s competitive business environment, you need strength, stability, and agility to compete. And since IT systems increasingly ARE the business, if your company isn’t performing as strong, lean, and mean as possible, then you can be sure your competitors will be looking to implement every advantage they can.
You may also be thinking why would you need something like Event Processing when you already have good Business Intelligence systems in place? The reality is that it’s not easy to monitor and measure useful but sometimes hidden data /event / sensor / social media sources and also to discern which patterns have meaning and which patterns may be discovered as false negatives. But the real difference is that BI usually reports to you after the fact when the value of acting on the situation has diminished significantly.
So while muscles are important to be able to stand up and run, and good quality, strong muscles are necessary to do heavy lifting, it’s those 6 pack abs on top of it all that give you the mean lean fighting machine to identify significant threats and opportunities amongst your data, and in essence, to better compete and win.
How often are you getting emails with “your personal product recommendations”? How personalized and correct are they really? How relevant is your omnichannel information to your customers? Commerce Relevancy is the next wave putting Omnichannel Commerce on another level.
As Information gets more democratic, connecting the dots between master data of customers, supplier, location and products ring the bells for the next commerce wave after omnichannel commerce: It is Commerce Relevancy: In the first phase it is focusing and combining product and customer data to deliver consistency and relevancy in omnichannel retailing. That will have deep inpact in customer experience.
The evolution of the retail environment, driven by advances in technology, has taken us from single channel or siloed channels to omnichannel retailing. Customers expect to find product information and make purchases when it is most convenient to them. As a result, delivering the right product and brand information at every customer touch point has never been more important.
Consistent and accurate product information has a profound impact on the buying decision, but in this hyper-connected world where competitive information is at the customer’s fingertips, retailers and CPG manufacturers also need to ensure that the information provided is highly relevant in order to differentiate and stay ahead.
The market has passed the eras of siloed channels to multichannel commerce (serving all channels, but not allways connected, then connecting the channels, called cross channel commerce. The last wave was establishing the term of omnichannel commerce, due to Wikipedia described as “very similar to the evolution of, (Multi-channel retailing), but is concentrated more on a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels, i.e. mobile internet devices, computers, bricks-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalog and so on.”
The new generation of Commerce Relevancy requires the right information and data which help turning data into a competitive advantage by helping organizations present product information that is complete, accurate and easy to understand. In today’s retail environment data consistency is key, but it is no longer enough. Every retailer wants to be a success full online retailer and every manufacturer wants to become a retailer with several own direct sales channels.
The next wave taking omnichannel commerce to the next level will address information relevancy at every channel and all customer interactions – called Commerce Relevancy.
In order to enable Commerce Relevancy, companies are now asking themsleves how to connect the dots between supplier, location, customer and product information. In this business use cases customer profiles or target group personas get match with product inforomation in sales and marketing. Think of the same TV flatscreen sold to two completely different personas, but using other parts of the description to tailor it to the customer. Using other channels to promote it. Using other images and vidoes which match with the customer profile. Commerce Relevancy means connecting the dots between all master data and product information.
4 Elements of Commerce Relevancy
Relevance commerce is taking omnichannel commerce to the next level now. Commerce Relevancy is influenced by four main characters:
- Relevant product recommendations everywhere: what is the next logical buy? This will not only be leveraged in ecommerce but at any customer touch point.
- Relevant locations: the ways of a product from an own warehouse, from a supplier warehouse and brick and mortar become more flexible. Customers are being served always from the location nearby.
- Relevant marketing: personalization will reach a new level combining product, location, supplier and first of all customer information the right way and across all channels. Relations of and between data (like customer profiles and product bundles) build the core of customer experience, when delivered in real-time.
- Relevant analytics: As customers expect real time information and services new technologies come up to use eye mark recording or image recognition of customer faces when customers returning into a store. Measuring the heart frequency to understand customers’ emotions while shopping opens new possibilities, when connecting the data to unleash information potential.
Do you know how good your multichannel data is? This blog covers four business objectives when accelerating multi channel commerce and which quality of product data is needed to deliver to that and a summary of questions to ask when establishing your strategy. These questions help ecommerce managers, category managers and marketers at retailers, distributors and brand manufacturers ask the right questions on product and customer data when establishing a multi channel strategy.
The Multichannel Challenge: Availability of Relevant Information
At every customer touch point, the ready availability of product information has a profound effect on buying decisions. If your customers can’t find what they’re shopping for, don’t understand how well your product meets their needs, or aren’t confident in their choice, they won’t complete their purchase.
When customers are researching or actively online shopping for products, research says 40 is the magic number:
40 % of buyers intend to return their purchase at the time they order it.
40 % order multiple versions of a product.
40 % of all fashion product returns are the result of poor product information (Consumer electronics are 15,3%; Sources: Trusted Shops, 2012, Internet World Business 7.1.2013)
All the high-quality product data in the world is useless if an organization cannot leverage that data for quicker time to market, improved e-commerce performance, and greater customer satisfaction.
Four Business Objectives When Accelerating Multi Channel Commerce
This white paper comes with four common use cases that illustrate typical business objectives within a multichannel commerce strategy. When looking into your product information, here is a list of questions you might consider.
1. Increasing conversions and lowering return rates by ensuring that customers can access product information in an easy-to-consume form.
- Where is the flawed content coming from?
- What tools and incentives can we provide for suppliers to maintain the high quality content?
- Which data quality processes should be automated first?
- Do we need a bespoke data model to fit your requirements?
- Can we effectively use industry standards for communicating with suppliers (such as GS1 or eClass)?
2. Lowering manual processing costs by merging the best product content from multiple suppliers.
- How many product catalogs do we have and what are the processes that slow us down?
- Who is responsible for the quality of the product information?
- How can we define and enforce the objective and measurable policies?
- Which supplier has best descriptions / certain translation, high-quality images / video / etc.?
- How do we collaborate with our large and small suppliers to achieve best data quality?
3. Growing margins through “long tail” merchandising of a broader assortment of products.
- Can we automate product classification?
- Which taxonomy will work best for us?
- Do all stakeholders have visibility of data quality metrics and trends?
- How can we leverage information across all channels and customer touch points, not only ecommerce?
4. Increasing customer satisfaction through more consistent information and corporate identity across sales channels.
- How should we connect customer and product information to provide personalized marketing?
- How can we leverage supplier and location data for regional marketing?
- How do we enable crowd sourcing of comments, reviews and user images?
- What information do internal and external users need to access in real time?
Find more information with the complete white paper on multichannel commerce and data quality.
This week at Informatica World 2013, the Data Integration Hub (DIH) was announced. It is the first out-of-the-box application for managing data access and distribution across large and complex infrastructures. It simplifies application data integration projects through the innovative use of publish and subscribe methods to decouple source and destination applicaitons. Of course we are very excited about the DIH but why should you be? Well, let me tell you a story…
Printed words are good, but pictures and sound are better. Watch the video below for a quick summation of how Informatica Ultra Messaging can help your business:
- Increase application performance and throughput
- Reduce fixed and operational costs
- Increase capacity
- Reduce single points of failure
- Increase scalability, reliability, and availability
For more information, have a look at: Ultra Messaging, Better Value with Better Technology.
There’s no denying that business continues to accelerate its pace, and that the luxury of using historical data for business intelligence (BI) and planning is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Today, businesses need immediate insight into rapidly changing data in order to survive and thrive. Data that’s even a few hours old—let alone a few days old—is largely useless. But most current information architectures today still only provide data that is a day, a week, or sometimes as much as a month old.
This leaves most BI, reporting, and analytics systems to operate without up-to-date data from operational systems, data that’s fundamental to making informed decisions about the business. To operate at the speed of business, it’s imperative that executives and decision makers have ready access to fresh information at all times, delivered continuously and automatically without impact on operational systems.
More and more organizations have found the answer in data replication. Data replication allows you to work with and make the best business decisions based on the freshest data drawn from all your operational systems. It delivers this current, up-to-date data in a seamless and non-intrusive manner, empowering you to operate at the speed of your business without constraints. It also automatically delivers this data wherever it’s needed – for operational intelligence, as well as operational use – without direct impact.
This unique “data-on-demand” approach removes the constraints of stale, old information and enables powerful outcomes for business initiatives. Fresh, current data drives new thinking across the enterprise, and can help organizations to:
- Increase revenue, delight customers, and outshine the competition
- Improve the quality and efficiency of business decisions
- Standardize on a single reliable and scalable solution that lowers costs and removes complexity
At Informatica, we’ve seen numerous customers implement Informatica Data Replication to deliver this fresh, up-to-date data for operational intelligence, reporting, and analytics, and report tremendous positive changes to their business. Some examples of customers using Informatica Data Replication with great success are:
- Westlake Financial Systems saved hundreds of thousands of dollars and improved its profitability and customer satisfaction through a more effective payment collection system
- Optus Australia increased both revenues and customer satisfaction by providing calling plan access, alerting, and self-service upgrades directly to its customer base
- A major national pharmacy chain accelerated and improved health care decision making across the business and increased agility and responsiveness to its customers, resulting in higher customer satisfaction while driving down the cost of technology
Is your business ready to make the leap to true operational intelligence using the freshest data to make your business decisions? Do you want to understand more about the impact that this kind of insight can make to your business?
If yes, please join us for a discussion with two business executives who have seen the impact in their own and their customers’ businesses using data replication on August 28 at 10 am Pacific. You can register using the link below.
The freshest data does make the best business decisions. We look forward to your joining and participating in the discussion.
There are lots of ways to run a trading firm.
Some firms use a strategy centered around high frequency or algorithmic trading, which are similar in that having the best technology and writing the fastest trading applications is essential.
At the other end of the spectrum, some firms employ only human traders, using a traditional buy-and-hold strategy, expecting to hold the security for months or even years before moving it.
But in between these two ends of the spectrum, there exists a hybrid that uses electronic trading with a bit of buy-and-hold added in. Some call this blend “trade smarter, not harder”.
Instead of competing with other traders to get the absolute lowest price, this strategy prioritizes on making better decisions by doing “pre-trade analytics” on historical and financial data.
More and more business applications are moving from the desktop to the cloud, and electronic trading applications are no different.
Over the last five or ten years, application vendors have established several advantages of running major applications, even mission-critical applications like salesforce.com, over the cloud.
These advantages include:
- Easier and smoother upgrades, which provides much better adaptability and agility in the face of changing market and business conditions, plus a better user experience,
- Better scalability, with newer technology advances, and
- Better portability across a wide array of device types, including smartphones and tablets (especially in the last 2-3 years).
Recent improvements in Web technology, such as HTML5 WebSockets, are helping to speed this transition along by providing several throughput and latency advantages over earlier iterations of Web technology, and even over native Windows applications. Now, application architects can freely choose the technology that provides a better path for growth, agility, and scalability, which is often a Cloud-based solution.
As I write this, a few of our customers who provide electronic trading solutions to their clients are making the strategic move to develop a next generation application based in the Cloud. The main driver for one customer was to be able to take on more clients more quickly and therefore grow the business faster by increasing marginal revenue and profitability. They found that the list of challenges with a thick desktop client to be just too big for growing the business as quickly as they wanted to — or needed to.
Messaging middleware, especially peer-to-peer solutions such as Informatica Ultra Messaging, can be a very important piece of a Cloud-based application. The peer-to-peer “nothing in the middle” model provides applications not just ultra-high performance (whether for high throughput or low latency), but also near-linear scalability, true 24×7 reliability and availability, and business and IT agility. These qualities tie directly to the advantages listed above.
Cloud-based applications, of course, must also contend with the Internet and all that comes with that: support for various browsers and platforms (and versions of each), scalability and bandwidth issues, and mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. New web technologies like HTML5 WebSockets from Kaazing are best positioned to take care of the path from server to the smartphone or tablet, and with JMS connectivity to Ultra Messaging on the back end, can provide a Cloud-based application with a lean, scalable and agile infrastructure, usually with less hardware.
For more, please see our 2011 Efficiency series (#1, #2, #3) on our Perspectives blog, or whitepapers such as Modern Messaging Middleware for Big Data in Motion or Enterprise Messaging Data for the Web.