How being data-smart can transform travel retail business growth
In a recently published article in the on-line magazine travel retail business, we revealed how more and more retailers and brands are collaborating and being data-smart to improve the customer shopping experience while delivering mutual sales growth.
July 2015 | by Garry Stasiulevicuis, Managing Director
Category Management is certainly not always seen as the sexiest part of the marketing mix in travel retail, however, here at CiR, we believe it is the most important one. Everything we do as a business is designed to provide our clients with the information, intelligence, insight and direction needed to make decisions for driving better activation in store. In summary, category management is about being data-smart and using the right information to make the right decisions.
Any business that is able to keep pace with evolving shopper and consumer behaviour and use the right information at the right time to adapt their retail offer, is well placed to not just connect with customers but also shape the interactions they make. When done well, we’ve seen category management initiatives and the application of appropriate data provide a 10 to 20 percent improvement in sales growth, while at the same time dramatically improving the shopping experience.
In one recent project, we worked with a leading alcohol supplier and a key European retailer in a tri-party arrangement to build the platform for their next generation store design. Our approach followed CiR’s well-proven method and utilised multiple data sources to make informed decisions to create a new retail environment.
The result has been a much-celebrated new retail concept that delivers successful sales performance for the entire category and one that is now implemented across a number of airport locations.
Being data-smart in the category management process is about analysing and using the right information to make the right decisions. Category management is often spoken about in terms of processes and lengthy ways of working but if approached appropriately, this is simply not the case. A successful category management project uses well selected and complimentary data-points, with the application of focussed analysis to then identify compelling and actionable insight.
This can be segmented in to 4 broad areas and the resulting output combined to create a rich mix of information that is then used to create a store and category development action plan.
1. Truly understanding customers
Understanding your customers is a commitment. Capturing, analysing and interpreting customer attitudes and behaviours should be an ongoing activity. In our category development process, this is always the starting point. We strive to understand who a category’s current and target customers are, understand their preferences, identify why they do what they do and then truly understand what they want…….which sometimes they don’t know themselves!
In the case referenced above, shopper research findings and the analysis of traffic and nationality movements was the bedrock for discussion and debate. Combined with a thorough measurement of real store footfall, dwell time, store journey mapping and purchase conversion metrics was then the crucial foundation for taking the project forward.
In every case, preferences have to be understood, considered and applied. Clearly different nationalities will prefer key segments or brands in a category. Certain shopper groups will have a higher conversion rate when faced with certain promotional mechanics and of course, the traveller and shopper mix has to be understood to ensure in-store communication is optimised.
The understanding of behaviours, motivations and preferences towards the entire retail mix is crucial in making the right decisions for activation.
2. Understanding trading performance
Analysing EpoS sales data is an essential component of the mix and should always be performed with the overall business objectives in mind. Analysis of EpoS data identifies clear opportunities to maximise growth areas and address under performance.
CiR has been handling EpoS sales data continuously for years. Understanding the data and performing the right analysis has helped identify opportunities in every category.
In-depth interrogation of data and having a team of curious analysts unearths a wealth of valuable information to apply to any category development project. It’s not just about performance in the market and the obvious key trends, but much deeper cross-examination with other intelligence to identify growth prospects.
EpoS analysis in conjunction with other data sources will ensure hidden opportunities are identified.
3. Excel at the retail basics
The analysis of data and its focussed interrogation will all be wasted unless the findings and insight gained from it are not applied to the retail basics. In short, findings from analysis have to be applied to the assortment of a category, what space is being allocated to categories and sub-categories, the position of products in store and then how they are displayed and communicated.
Often overlooked, the retail basics are the fundamental building blocks of a category and the platform for growth. Applying analysis findings can and should show up in a variety ways. Some examples include;
- Assortment. The range structure and size, product balance and the price ladder of a category are al key components to get right. Driving range efficiency alone can add significant growth to a category.
- Space. The allocation of space is essential to operational efficiency in store. Ensuring products have the right space to handle rates of sale and ensuring stock holding is managed around staff fill procedures will ensure maximum availability.
- On a more macro level, detailed basket analysis should be the driver for ensuring the right adjacencies and cross category activities are executed appropriately.
- Product display. This is not just about making things look good but a real opportunity to realise a category or brands ambition. Merchandising should encourage people make informed choices about what they are buying. In summary, it’s about making a category easy to find, choose and buy.
4. Measure, evaluate and adjust
True success of any category project is measuring the impact on performance and shopper satisfaction. Measurement should begin immediately and be continuous. Measurement can and should take many different forms. Observing shoppers in store and how they are reacting to new activations is one simple way. Re-measuring footfall and conversion at a detailed level will give some idea of the physical impact of the activity and then of course EpoS data review.
Analysis of sales performance across agreed measures is the only way to understand how your best laid plans are performing. Right from total category down to individual brand, segment and product should be looked at and reviewed.
Be prepared to make adjustments based on this analysis. Category development is a continuous learning process and making adjustment along the way will ensure best practice can be learnt, taken and applied to other projects in other locations.
In all cases, a category measurement scorecard should be in place with targets and goals being tracked against performance.
Excelling in the retail environment is about being data-smart. Whether you call it category management, shopper marketing or just analysis, using the right information to make the right decisions is the only way to drive mutual benefit for retailers and brands by satisfying customer demand and creating an amazing retail environment.
CiR’s data-rich resources and pragmatic approach has proven to drive sales growth time and again.