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Retail + CG: Meeting Adversity with Data

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The worldwide pandemic has become a crucible for the retail and consumer packaged goods (CG) industries. From shifts in shopper buying habits to keeping up with supply and demand, retailers have faced struggles that highlight the importance — and urgency — for digital transformation.

As a result, the retail and consumer goods industries are looking for ways to put intelligent automation into the hands of more of their workforces and continually improve business outcomes.

While these industries continue to pour energy and resources into ongoing COVID-19 recovery efforts, retailers and CGs are emerging from the pandemic with a renewed focus on investing in analytics.
In the most recent RIS News Report, Retail and Consumer Goods Analytics Study 2020, it is forecasted that as much as 10% of IT budgets will be dedicated to analytics by 2023 alone.

Those organizations that have succeeded in their digital transformation journey have taken a technology-first approach that democratizes data, analytics, and data science; enables optimization and automation of business processes; and amplifies human output via a human centered experience.

For true digital transformation to occur, though, it takes more than an investment in new technologies. To build resiliency, organizations need to embrace a culture of analytics.

According to the report, aligning corporate strategy and adopting a culture of analytics is “Vital to both CG and retailers.” However, when it comes to internal alignment, both industries agree that they’re “Still working in silos.”
“Having a clearly articulated analytic strategy across the business and putting the right staff in place to lead that corporate structure within a shared analytic department or center of excellence is the ideal scenario for both CG and retail.”

While both industries struggle with the absence of a clearly articulated strategy, limited toolsets and not having the right staff in place round out the top three concerns. People, processes, and data are an organization’s richest assets, and when these three assets are addressed together, transformative outcomes are realized.

Considering the factors enumerated by CGs and retailers on the RIS survey, adopting Analytic Process Automation™ (APA) is key to building speed, transparency, granularity, and automation to meet adversity and drive success for digital transformation initiatives.
More than 50% of consumer goods organizations responded that they needed more frequency, the agility to react more quickly, analyze faster, and be able to look at data in a more critical manner. Retailers echoed this sentiment in other parts of their business mostly due to the supply chain issues as well as furloughs and layoffs.

Analytic Process Automation platforms converge three key pillars of digital transformation to enable the democratization of data and analytics; the automation of business processes; and the upskilling of people to accelerate business outcomes.

Data. Democratized.

The priority in embarking on digital transformation is to make information more accessible to everyone across the organization. Today’s integrated self-service analytics and data science solutions have proven to simplify and broaden the accessibility of data, analytics, and data science to everyone without needing specialized skillsets.
“While suppliers say that responsibility is managed by many spokes (37%), almost half would prefer a shared analytic department or center of excellence approach. Retailers shared that sentiment at 33%; however, for now, retail analytic responsibility is also managed by departments (many spokes) at 30%.”

Optimization Through Automation

An equally critical pillar is the optimization and automation of both tedious and complex processes using smarter technologies. Successful digital transformation first evaluates existing processes, modifies processes and procedures with a focus on achieving faster business outcomes, and applies technology to optimize and automate processes to deliver intelligent business process automation. In all cases, this has proven to speed critical business processes and achieve far greater efficiencies.

Top three areas of analysis focus for retail and CGs

  • Demand forecasting
  • Consumer insights
  • Inventory planning

Human-Driven

When it comes to reskilling and upskilling the workforce, successful digital transformation requires shifting people’s focus from forced learning to the development of outcome-focused mindsets and capabilities. They start with the end in mind. Outcome-focused mindsets are developed by letting people explore human-centered, self-service technologies rather than needing highly trained specialists or depending on IT.
Currently, on average, the total number of internal employees focused on analytics is only 35 for CGs and 15 for retail.

Primary Method for Addressing Analytic Resource Needs

(Source: RIS News Report, Retail and Consumer Goods Analytics Study 2020)

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Written By
Anne
Anne-Queline Keller
Director, Retail Solutions Strategy and Marketing
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