What are the top three things brands want from a retail partner? The first two are obvious: more orders and the best possible shelf presence. The third is perhaps less obvious: data, information about consumers, and demand insights that can inform product development, planning, manufacturing, and promotions.
Three Must-Haves that Increase the Value of Retail Data
Individual retailer data is insightful, but to truly realize its value as an input into product development, planning, category management, and other processes, it must become “triple A”:
• Aggregated with data from the other retailers who carry the brand
• Augmented with contextual information (environmental, socio-economic, geopolitical, and more) such as weather, social sentiment, inflation and regional demographics
• Automatically integrated into the applications that support business processes and decision-making for planning, product development, manufacturing, category management, and so on
Three Challenges to Bringing Retail Data to Triple-A Levels
The large retailers and e-tailers—such as the Walmarts, Targets, and Amazons—of this world tend to share consumer, demand, and category data only via end-user portals. This creates several challenges for brand owners:
• Unproductive and inconsistent: This happens when a brand has a person generate reports to extract data manually for each retailer. It is a slow process that is potentially exposed to human error or variation as different people may create the reports slightly differently.
• Unharmonized and breakable: Each retailer may present and define what, on the surface, seems to be the same metric in a different way. Brands need to bring data to a common denominator to perform aggregation and augmentation, but harmonizing data across retailers is hard work and typically requires software tools to perform mappings and transformations. Variations in the reports extracted manually for each retailer break the mappings.
• Impossible to integrate: Reports are suitable for decision-making but cannot be integrated into business applications to support and automate processes.
Three Technologies to Fix the Challenges
Many brand owners have developed or purchased bot technology to simulate human interaction with retailer portals and automate the data extraction/report generation process. This broadly addresses the first challenge.
Applications like e2open Demand Signal Management and its Retail Adaptor can address both the first and second challenges. It helps brands acquire retailers’ data automatically and harmonize that data with feeds from their entire retail network, aggregate it, augment it, and use it for analytical insights. Brands can perform their analyses directly in e2open Demand Signal Management and benefit from the thousands of predefined KPIs, reports, and dashboards synchronized across retailers.
The third challenge and requirement—enabling automated integration of demand insights into the business applications supporting planning, product development, category management and other functional processes—needs a different type of connectivity. This is typically provided via application programming interfaces (APIs).
The Great Data Hunger
For awhile, retailers such as Kroger, Costco, and Walgreens have offered collaborative data gateways for their suppliers.
Last year, Walmart announced the launch of a new commercial offering, Walmart Luminate, a data platform providing brand owners with a shared view of shopper behavior, customer perception insights based on primary research, and trends in online, in-store, and mobile performance. The fee-based platform also exposes a set of Channel Performance APIs that enable brand owners to take Walmart data directly into their analytics tools and applications to make better decisions, streamline processes, and increase data security.
According to an article by Jack Neff published in Ad Age on June 15, 2021, offering data for a fee can be a lucrative business proposition. In fact, this activity can drive as much as $1 million worth of revenue per $1 billion in sales. Increased supply and demand volatility makes brand owners hungrier for data than ever before. With such conditions, other major retailers may follow the Walmart example and start to offer access to their data via platforms with open APIs. When that may happen remains to be seen—but we have some great news now!
The Great News
e2open’s Retail Adaptor is now ready and tested to connect with Walmart’s Luminate Channel Performance APIs. For brands already using e2open Demand Signal Management, the Retail Adaptor’s instant connection to Walmart’s Luminate APIs provides an easy-to-deploy and easy-to-manage mechanism. Using e2open’s Retail Adaptor, companies can get a cohesive view of their entire retail network—Walmart and all.
Here’s more great news: Since e2open Demand Signal Management provides its own set of APIs, integrating harmonized, aggregated, and augmented cross-retailer data into business processes is now entirely possible and can be fully automated.
Contact Us for more information about Retail Adaptor, e2open Demand Signal Management, or e2open’s integration with Walmart Luminate.