The growth of e-commerce and showrooming behaviors have made a differentiated store experience critical to brick-and-mortar survival. At the same time, brands need to deliver more personalized shopper engagement in order to fight fading brand loyalty and SKU proliferation. The two parties have similiar shopper-centric objectives, and are realizing that through collaborative data exchange, they can achieve them.
While retailers collect massive amounts of customer data, they lack the resource and skills to mine it across thousands of SKUs. Consumer brands, on the other hand, have large teams and resources dedicated to analytics that can help unlock insights and discover patterns at the SKU and brand level. Recognizing this, retailers are moving past their reservations and opening the doors to direct data sharing. Three retailers in particular have made data sharing a central part of their business model and are leading the way in omnichannel shopper experience as a result.
1. Walmart’s Retail Link
Walmart was the first company to open its data to retailers and is considered a pioneer in the space. Believing that through data sharing, they can empower suppliers to become experts on their products and drive innovation to Walmart stores, Walmart launched Retail Link in 1991. A proprietary online portal created by Walmart, the application offers suppliers access to point-of-sale and inventory data. The initial version of the platform primarily focused on improving shelf availability and inventory management, with data allowing suppliers to view when product was shipped, delivered and sold at the store-level. The release of Retail Link 2.0 dramatically broadened the scope of collaboration though, introducing more comprehensive analytics and forecasting tools. Featuring 52 weeks of predictive sales analytics, integration with Walmart social media and Walmart.com, and local weather and demographic data, the portal not only shows suppliers which products are selling, but how, why and by who. Suppliers are using the data to anticipate customer needs and buying behaviors, and meet them with customized merchandising and marketing solutions.
The launch of Retail Link and vast amount of data it makes available has prompted many CPGs to invest in analytics training and tools to help harness it all. Today, the suppliers effectively using this data to make value-added recommendations and customer experience improvements are the ones earning Walmart’s share of shelf.
2. Ahold’s Vendor Collaboration Program
In 2016, Ahold USA announced a new Vendor Collaboration Program designed to introduce shared business processes across the enterprise that would enable the collaborative creation of a world-class shopping experience for consumers. Through partnership with Retail Solutions Inc. (RSi), Ahold launched a platform that allows suppliers to make collaborative, real-time decisions on critical business processes, from inventory management to distribution and promotional execution. In 2017, Ahold USA and Delhaize America took the collaboration program a step further, announcing a long-term partnership with IRI as their new analytics exchange platform. The new platform goes beyond supply chain, offering point-of-sale (POS) and frequent shopper program (FSP) data to support improved consumer targeting and marketing campaign performance. Through access to the platform, brand teams are able to easily access insights and integrate multiple, disparate data sources.
Ahold Dehalize believes that winning in today’s market requires shopper-centric collaboration and growth with brand partners, and so far, their belief is proving accurate. The Vendor Collaboration Program has delivered improved operational execution and product availability to Ahold Delhaize, while brands report incremental sales lift and cost savings.
3. Kroger’s Precision Marketing Agency
Kroger boasts its own analytics subsidiary that uses data science and predictive analytics to help Kroger and its CPG partners create personalized connections with customers. Named 84.51°, the company helps more than 1,400 consumer packaged goods companies deliver personalized customer engagement by uniting its customer insights with the services of Kroger Precision Marketing (KPM)—Kroger’s data-driven marketing agency. Leveraging the loyalty card insights of 60 million households, KPM helps suppliers create, activate, and measure 1-to-1 marketing across Kroger channels. Brands are able to evaluate campaign impact with a platform that connects ad exposure data to sales results, in addition to being able to view customer profiling and behavioral data.
Driving 12x the sales lift for a brand, the data-driven strategies of KPM are helping brands better connect with Kroger customers. By giving suppliers the resources to put their customer data to work, Kroger is showing that the creation of a unified customer experience depends on the support of your supply partners.
Connected Data – Connected Shopper Engagement
As customers’ buying behaviors continue to evolve, retailers need their suppliers to help them keep pace with it all. By implementing innovative data sharing programs like these, the two can rapidly respond to change and deliver a defining shopper experience that sets both parties apart.
“Collaboration is about putting the resources, assets and people close to the customer – making sure they understand the customer, not just what it means in sales, but also what it means in logistics, supply chain and insights to provide a strategic advantage,” said Geoff Kuzio, VP Kroger Team, Campbell Soup Co.