Lexmark Director Talks Key Trends for Retail
With 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated every day, retailers are asking themselves the question, ‘How do we get our arms around this information?’
“It’s out there—the problem is that it’s in a lot of different places,” says Paul Merritt, industry director for retail at Lexmark. “The reason the want to be able to get to this data is because it will tell them buying patterns, it will tell them what their customers are looking for, and in the end they want to use this information to increase revenue.
For retail, relevant data lies close to the point of sale, which means measuring what people look at and click on, particularly where e-commerce is concerned.
“If you look at statistics from NRF (National Retail Federation), they’ll show you that about 37 percent of all retail sales are driven by some sales offer. And if you think about how sales offers have typically been executed, it’s been a Sunday circular, or an ad or perhaps a banner,” Merritt says. “But retailers are interested in getting that data in real time so that they can market to that customer while they’re in the store.”
Merritt used the example of a home improvement store, where a customer might scan a QR code for a type of flooring. If the store happens to have 18 weeks’ worth of inventory when they really only want to carry 12 weeks’ worth at a time, they could offer the customer a discount right then by on their smartphone to help cut down on those extra weeks of supply.
“Instantaneously, you should know across the enterprise who’s looking at your merchandise and be able to offer them something in the way of a discount right away.”
Merritt explained that Lexmark is there to help customers organize, analyze and make available the information that leads to these sorts of real-time decisions.
Moving forward, Merritt says that he’ll be looking out for the impact of analytics on the supply chain, particularly when products are manufactured offshore. While your data help you to make instantaneous decisions, the supply chain is often a slow, drawn out process that’s greatly held back by the time it takes to ship products from overseas.
Although Merritt didn’t comment on initiatives to cut down on offshoring, he did point out that when the supply chain is that lengthy, it’s essential to reduce lag wherever possible, which leaves a growing role for these solutions to fill going forward.