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/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/images_262483.jpegAs with everything else in today’s innovative society, shopping is no longer a simple predictable process. Customers don’t shop then buy, and then end the story. Today, the experience is more cyclic and diluted as customers use multiple channels to shop, seek opinions, and make purchase decisions.

To keep up with the rapid pace and collection of data that technology has enabled, retailers are treading water to stay relevant and capitalize on those precious retail opportunities…but there is hope! There are services designed with the retail industry in mind, that allow for quick reactions to competition and consumer demand.

As part of the strategy to stay agile and keep up with today’s moving customer, a multi-channel, strategic, and well-informed campaign that can target customers through their channels of choice, and aggregate all the collected data to make it useable and applicable is key. Doing this takes some dedication and strategic thinking, but it will result in a more targeted and profitable approach to marketing to customers and reinforcing and maintaining relationships.

So, let’s take a look at what is needed to be successful and React in the Retail Moment [and to do it in real time].

Technology. Using technology is key and a necessity. In-memory computing enables real-time decision making by allowing retailers to collect, manage, analyze, provide, and finally act on data in the moment. For example, SAP’s Affinity Insight for Retail can analyze sales at the customer level and gain full insight to buying behavior, which is key information for a retail business to have. The right technology will transform the growing amount of data into information that supports real-time decisions, which can be used to address customer demand, figuring out how to outperform the competition, and overall improving margins.

A major consideration for today’s shopper is how they are using their own technology – mobile devices. A mobility strategy can be a key part of the technology aspect, but it must be planned. Through SAP Services for Retail, a mobility strategy and solutions can be identified and implemented.

Process. After determining the technology needs and identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) used to measure success, a process needs to be put in place and should have all the necessary steps to ensure proper execution and use of the data.

The process includes collecting relevant data through a structured methodology, which identifies information from an array of sources. The data must then be organized, combined, and managed so the right pieces of information are brought together to form a complete view of all key players. From this information, there needs to be an analysis, which may include predictive analysis, modeling, and scenarios. The resulting real-time information must be useable and accessible to decision makers and implemented to encourage customers to make decisions that affection a transaction or behavior.

People. Internally, there must be buy-in and support for using in-memory and implementing a real-time decision making strategy. Internal buy-in is often completed in stages, and can begin with proof of concept through a pilot campaign that demonstrates success.  The entire process needs to be properly maintained and closely measured to maintain victories, and that may require external resources that can keep a pulse on the totality of the situation, and bring new ideas and implementations to maximize return.

Although there are a lot of moving parts and real-time data can significantly change a culture, it can do so for the better and the proof will be in the pudding as those retail opportunities turn into real-time retail victories. Be sure that the technology, processes, and people are in place, and seek outside sources if they aren’t available internally.

Learn more about how to get started and understand the importance of Reacting in the Retail Moment: Analyzing Big Data in Real Time to Forge a Competitive Advantage by reading this whitepaper that identifies trends, challenges, and solutions.

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