New research finds retailers committed to data-centric strategy, but almost half still struggling


Research published today by in-memory analytics database creator, Exasol, reveals that 82 per cent of retailers are committed to implementing a data-centric strategy in the next five years, with almost a third stating this is already in place. The research found 58% of retail decisions are being guided by data, although almost half are yet to implement a single customer view in the omnichannel era.


Retailers are relying on data to drive better insights and decision making to address specific challenges within their businesses, but the adoption of data analytics is not universal. Respondents stated they used data for decisions on sales and marketing campaigns (70%), price optimisation to overcome issues around diminishing margins and increased competition for revenues (64%), and better supply chain management (55%). However, the study also revealed that many retailers have not yet implemented a strategy that provides a holistic view of their customers. Despite customer experience becoming a mantra for leading retailers, only 46% have implemented data analytics to better understand their customers’ behaviour and needs across channels.

“The new battle lies in better understanding and successfully anticipating what will appeal to individual customers”

The strategic importance retail places on data is best demonstrated by the ownership of data strategies within enterprise-sized retail organisations. Over 80 per cent of respondents say the data strategy is owned by a member of the C-suite. Interestingly though, that ownership has fallen away from its traditional home of the CIO with only one in three respondents stating data belonged to the CIO and 58 per cent accrediting another C-level position, including the CEO (18%) and the CFO (12%).

Aaron Auld, CEO at Exasol, said: The retail sector continues to be pushed to the limits by the always-connected, digitally-minded consumers that want convenience, personalisation and value in the omnichannel world. Retailers are coping with razor-thin profit margins, increasing the pressure to deliver for customers at any time, any place, at the right cost, and personalised to them.

Auld continued: “This research shows that, despite the big eCommerce brands having set the standards for omnichannel and customer experience, more than half of retailers still lack the all-important single customer view. Customers don’t only wish for, but expect, an exceptional and consistent experience across all channels now. The new battle lies in better understanding and successfully anticipating what will appeal to individual customers. Winning that battle is reliant on having the right data strategy and exploiting the speed and depth of insight now made possible by in-memory analytical databases.”

In the path to becoming data-driven, retailers need to ensure they have the right tools in place to fulfil their strategies. Exasol works with leading retailers from Otto to Zalando, that use its in-memory database to keep up with changing customer demands and to help consistently provide the best experience. Exasol helps retailers break down the barriers between disparate systems such as stock control, POS, staffing, supply chain, or provenance and it enables these individual data sources to be exploited as part of powerful data analytics that span an entire organisation. 

The research paper Data analytics: The smart move in retail, conducted for Exasol by research firm Vanson Bourne, looked at how and why organisations across two major European markets are transforming from business intelligence to data analytics – in order to make better use of their data, power modernisation efforts, and meet organisational demand. It surveyed a mix of 500 IT and business decision makers to fully understand the variances in perception and actions between these two pivotal, but often differently motivated, decision-maker groups.

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