Retail Outside-In

A lot of work is being done in the space of retail analytics. In fact it was nice to see an advertisement by the Big Blue that talks about how they found out that a bakery sold more sandwiches when it rained and how they used analytics to get to this conclusion and how such conclusions will lead to a smarter planet. Well considering the fact that after so many years we still have not been able to predict the weather accurately it will further help the cause of the smarter planet if IBM could help the bakery with a solution if it did not rain.

I am not against the company or the advertisement but I just feel that that they could have chosen a better example. That being said I don’t want to miss an important point that was brought to light and that is there a many kinds of external factors that influence buying decisions. Most of the companies focusing on retail analytics don’t seem to be talking about this aspect of the buying behaviour and how these factors will or might influence decision making. A lot of work in retail analytics is being done on the inside that is after the customer enters the environment that is the retail store either online of offline and they have met with a fair degree of success.

I do believe that a lot can be done and to some extent is being done by companies in using external factors in trying to predict buying behaviour. The retail companies should actively try and work with third party companies that acquire data for their business and see the applicability of that data for predicting buying behaviour. The data might not be individual specific but can be location specific which will definitely help in understanding population dynamics better.

This can eventually become a win-win situation for both companies and in turn benefit the consumer.