Competing With Data & Analytics
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I’ve had my eye on a Breville Panini Press and Grill for longer than I’d like to admit.
I’ve dutifully signed up for email alerts to deals and sales. I’ve comparison-shopped on Cooking.com, Crate & Barrel and Williams-Sonoma. I’ve read and re-read online reviews. Finally, this weekend I trekked down to my local Williams-Sonoma for some instant gratification (sort of). I had the sales woman pull the big daddy out of its box, so I could see it and feel its weight and heft before purchasing.
While in the store, I slipped to a back isle to do a last-minute comparison shop on my mobile (discretion seemed appropriate). It turned out I hadn’t used my Amazon credit card in forever and, as a Prime member, I was eligible for a sweet discount on the very same Breville I’d just held in my hands — free, fast shipping included. Amazon got my business.
Many retailers are grappling with stories like mine, stories of consumers armed with smart phones, mobile apps, online reviews and on-the-spot digital deals who can simultaneously navigate in-store and online retail environments.
It’s the new world of omnichannel retailing that blurs the lines between physical, online and mobile channels. And retailers are scrambling to catch up.
In a recent AllAnalytics video and web chat, Analytics in the Age of Omnichannel Retailing,1 researchers Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Center for Digital Business, Yu Jeffrey Hu, associate professor at Georgia Institute of Technology’s Scheller College of Business, and Mohammad Rahman, associate professor at University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, discussed the challenges facing retailers.
“We’re in the early stages of a tectonic shift in the way that retailing is being done,” said Brynjolfsson. “The first big wave came with Internet retailing in the ‘90s, and it’s been progressing. And obviously companies like Amazon.com and others have made a huge impact on the industry. But what we’re seeing now is going to be much bigger, and that’s omnichannel retailing. Because digital technology, analytics, new devices — those are being brought to every retailer. It’s no longer segmented off to people who are shopping online.”
Two technologies are really driving this omnichannel revolution: mobile telephony, especially smartphones; and big data and analytics.
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1. The three researchers co-authored the paper "Competing in the Age of Omnichannel Retailing," that is published in the Summer Issue of MIT Sloan Management Review. The article provides an in-depth look at omnichannel retailing and provides concrete suggestions for success in this new world.