Retailers collect a massive amount of data every day. That data gets turned into reports, which are distributed throughout different branches of the company, including store associates.
However, do those store associates know what to do with all the reports sent to them? Most of the time the answer is “no.”
In the session “Prescriptive Analytics, Machine Learning and the Internet of Things” at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show yesterday in New York City, Walgreens’ Senior Manager of Asset Protections Solutions Seth Hughes explained why the pharmacy chain stopped giving front-line workers useless reports and, instead, began using data to make a difference.
Prescriptive analytics is the area of business analytics dedicated to finding the best course of action for any given situation — something very helpful to Hughes’ goal of loss prevention.
Predictive analytics directly help a brand’s bottom line by allowing retailers to know exact inventory; make customers happy by giving them a great shopping experience; give employees a better working experience so it’s easier to upsell and cross-sell; and identify store associates that are really great at their jobs and ones who may need more training to be the best they can be.
Using prescriptive analytics software from Profitect, Hughes and his team determined what key things were needed — beyond visualization — across Walgreens in order get data out of the back office and onto the store floor. He cited the following:
1. Outstanding self-serve analytics capabilities: For those employees who don’t have an analytics background, understanding data reports can be next to impossible. Help employees be successful by giving them the tools they need to access and work with corporate data.
2. Pushing opportunity rather than pulling a report: Pushing an opportunity — e.g., putting umbrellas at the front of the store on a rainy day — will help drive sales.
3. Tell the user exactly what to do: Retailers can’t assume that store associates will remember a training session from months ago and automatically know what certain reports mean and the different actions that could be taken based on the data. By using a mobile device on the sales floor, software can tell store associates exactly what actions need to be taken, rather than them trying to sift through all the data themselves.
This mobile device can also keep track of inventory and help employees deliver the best experience possible to shoppers.
4. Track completion of above actions: It should be easy to track exactly what was completed if store associates are using the above-mentioned mobile device. Retailers can gamify this step by offering rewards to employees that are engaging and authentic, says Profitect CEO Guy Yehiav.
5. Quantify success: Put a dollar amount on the success of prescriptive analytics.
6. Faster resolutions and discovery of the unknown: Through analytics, Walgreens was able to determine that it was difficult for employees to correctly stock vitamins. Once the problem was discovered, they were able to resolve it quickly.