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6 Ways Retailers Can Deliver Better CX Through Analytics

Dan Mitchell
Director, SAS Global Retail & Consumer Goods Practice
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Your demand forecasting and supply chain will make the difference between success and failure. And now we know at least one reason why: new research shows the link between demand forecasting and customer experience.

In the perpetually disrupted world of consumer demand and supply chains, change is the only constant. Add into the mix the threat of cyberattacks, climate change, freak weather events, soaring costs, rampant inflation and—let’s not forget—looming transportation shortages, and it’s enough to keep supply chain chiefs awake up all night. 

Forbes Insights, in partnership with SAS, Accenture and Intel, surveyed 1,000 retail and consumer goods leaders from all over the world. The key takeaway? Analytics and technology are powering a demand planning and customer experience revolution.

The Challenges Facing Retailers Today

More than half of executives said keeping up with consumer sentiment and other disruptions (i.e., pandemic, cyberattacks, etc.) pose significant challenges for their business.

Sixty-seven percent of essential retail brands agree forecasting is becoming more critical to success. Half of retailers say stockouts are an issue while 88% face delays in delivery; 94% of retailers struggle with the disparity between demand forecasts and production forecasts.

Why Is This Happening?

Demand and supply cycles are becoming more episodic and volatile. Change is constant. Three-quarters of retail executives agree that forecasting for demand and supply cycles is being executed with greater frequency and agility and becoming more critical for business success

What’s Being Done About It? 

Two-thirds of retail executives agreed they are taking steps to better accelerate their supply-chain and customer engagement forecasting and planning, while 69% agree that they need to focus on customer engagement across their entire company. 

So, What’s The Missed Opportunity?

Just 48% of retailers are using AI and analytics for forecasting and demand planning. Across the retail leaders surveyed, only 21% say they interrogate digital data, product level data, transaction data and customer marketing data ‘intensively’. 

Only around a third of retailers extensively track customers across digital properties. This means opportunities are being missed to improve both demand planning and customer engagement—big opportunities. 

Staying Ahead of Constant Change: The Untapped Power of Analytics

Your analytics are doing a decent job, but you know they can do so much more. Most analytics tools and platforms are simply scratching the surface. 

Traditionally, demand planning analytics is an exercise in looking in the rear-view mirror. 

But with artificial intelligence and advanced analytic algorithms, companies can process data as its created. You can see new trends and patterns before your competitors.

A consumer-centric supply chain strives for operational transparency across all partners. This helps build a seamless and dynamic brand experience—and provides value-added services to consumers. Simulations and digital twins can model real-world systems, allowing you to plan for and develop better outcomes.

How to Deliver Better Consumer Experiences:

  1. Aligning the process: Make sure you integrate all the customer-related functions with the core company strategy to quickly and efficiently fulfill customer needs. 
  2. Enhancing visibility: Connect departments across the organization to increase real-time supply and demand visibility across various channels. This can help you better manage inventory levels and reduces the time of planning cycles. 
  3. Introducing flexibility and agility: Integrated supply chain operations help organizations identify process bottlenecks, increase floor visibility and manage operations with agility, allowing companies to shift the focus from mass production to mass customization based on consumer preferences.  
  4. Delivering on time: Make or break for customer experience. Real-time vehicle tracking and analytics-driven planning can speed delivery, improve productivity and ensure customer satisfaction.
  5. Personalizing customer needs: Supply chain management helps in providing personalized service based on the customer’s purchase history. 
  6. Optimizing consumer journeys: By combining valuable supply chain insight with customer data, retailers can use predictive analytics to identify the next action their customers will likely take in their purchase path.

Retail and Forecasting Teams Can Work Faster and More Responsively

SAS worked with one regional grocer that experienced a 200% increase in online purchases virtually overnight. The only way to meet that level of demand was for the grocer to understand its customers and anticipate buying patterns. 

This required investment in consumption-based forecasting and planning and precise coordination across the supply chain, including greater efforts to harness supplier data. The survey bears this out, showing that 61% of retail and CPG executives are currently focused on increasing their use of supplier data. The industry is doing what it does best: find incremental efficiencies. And that’s why it’s time to take your analytics to a whole new level. 

Make Sure You’re Getting the Best from Your Analytics

Read the full analysis of the survey results in our report.