As retailers strive to be more customer-centric, the key to success lies in data. From cost optimisation to real-time supply chain insight, the shift towards prioritising data strategies holds great potential in retail business operations.

Data analytics plays a crucial role in assisting retailers in efficiently utilising and overseeing their data. This enables them to make integrated, data-driven decisions that align with their evolving business requirements. Those who leverage data effectively can make informed and strategic choices to optimise their supply chain, enhance customer experiences, and maintain a competitive edge in an increasingly modernised industry.

Utilising Generative AI as an intelligent ally

Retailers hold access to a myriad of data sources but face challenges with how to successfully use the data for their business. Data tends to be scattered across different parts of the organisation, leading to it being unmanaged and siloed. To fully realise the potential of data, companies need to address these data management issues. Ensuring that data is stored and structured so that data analytics, and in turn, Generative AI (Gen AI), can efficiently operate and provide valuable insights for decision-making.

Gen AI is undoubtedly the latest buzz for business, but it’s set to change how Australian retail businesses operate. Gen AI moves beyond just analysing and optimising data. It can provide real-time assistance based on customer data, ensuring improved consumer engagement and customer service, along with reducing operational costs by identifying inefficiencies and product development.

For those that struggle with supply chain, Gen AI allows retailers to take control of inventory management, providing more accuracy when it comes to stock levels, logistics, and ordering resulting in a higher rate of success in meeting customer expectations.

Additionally, integrating Gen AI into the retail industry lies in empowering decision-makers. Through the analysis of data, Gen AI can offer a valuable impact on the retailer’s bottom line. This capability essentially helps retail businesses to make informed choices that boost profit, enhance experiences, and ultimately contribute to their success.

Customer-centric data analytics to enhance experiences. 

When designed with a customer-centric approach, data analytics become a powerful tool to delight customers, creating lasting relationships. A customer-centric data strategy places the customer at the centre of all decisions. For instance, businesses can offer personalised product recommendations by analysing customer purchase history and preferences, taking into consideration everything from the time of day they are ordering to the season of their location and offering appropriate promotions and content. This tailored approach leads to increased customer engagement, loyalty and ultimately sales.

Data is the foundation for delivering better retail experiences to users. By focusing on data analytics, items can be classified more thoroughly and accurately. For example, information can be broken down on a piece of clothing beyond just the colour and price, but to every aspect of the product including when and where it was made, what it’s made of, the durability of the product and the accuracy of size between multiple brands. Best of all, this all happens instantaneously.

Customer-centric data analysis can also enable businesses to gather feedback and sentiments from various touchpoints, providing a better understanding of why customers don’t follow through after placing stock in the cart, or functionality of websites, or even the store layout. This insight can help retailers promptly address customer concerns and adapt their strategies to meet changing customer expectations.

How customers will benefit from data 

It’s important to understand that modernising the way data is handled goes beyond just analysing information. It involves looking at every aspect of how data is managed, including the hardware and cloud-based systems put in place. Retailers can leverage available expertise and tools to make well-informed decisions regarding the storage location of their data, whether it’s kept on-premises or in the cloud. This flexibility guarantees that data remains easily accessible, scalable, and cost-effective, aligning with the specific needs of the retail industry. The beauty of Gen AI is no matter where the data is held, or no matter how many sources of data you have, they can all be compared and given weight of importance for decision-making.

The last few years have shown us the importance of supply chain resiliency, modern data management can ensure products are consistently available, reducing customer frustration. In addition to this, data-driven insights can lead to improved customer service. Retailers can anticipate customer needs and address issues proactively. For example, data can quickly reveal a pattern of customer complaints, allowing retailers to take quick action to rectify the problem, improving overall customer satisfaction.

Data analytics is the unsung hero of the retail industry’s transformation. It enables the seamless integration of customer-centric approaches, driving better business strategies and enhancing customer experiences. Investing in intelligent data solutions is no longer just an option but is a necessity for sustained success in retail.

Martin Dube is vice president of sales in Asia Pacific & Japan at Rackspace Technology.