1月 292018

Enochlophobia. It means “fear of crowds,” and I have it. I wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere near Times Square on New Years’ Eve, and how did I ever endure the stadium-sized rock concerts of my youth?  I’m thinking all this as I navigate the sea of people at the National [...]

Who’s ready for AI? Notes from NRF was published on SAS Voices by Jill Dyché

12月 192014

This infographic summarizes some of the findings of this reseach report.Everybody cares about the holiday shopping season. For retailers, it can account for as much as 30% of annual sales according to the National Retail Federation ("NRF"). For many individuals, it can be the best time to score great deals on presents for loved ones. For the overall economy, the impact of the holiday shopping season is estimated by the NRF to be $640 Billion, so its importance ripples far beyond the immediate receipts tabulated by retailers.

The start of the holiday shopping season is referred to as "Black Friday" in recognition of many retailers going "into the black" of profitability on the day after Thanksgiving. That important day inspired me to write a Thanksgiving rhyme about a study we conducted on holiday shoppers and their habits throughout the period. And with a week yet before Christmas Day, we have seven days to appreciate seven things to know about holiday shoppers:

  1. One in five of us still has gifts to buy. Eighteen percent of holiday shoppers plan to buy gifts this week.
    Who are these shoppers? The younger crowd—with an average age of 40 compared to 47 among other shoppers. One-third of those buying this week are under 30.
  2. Those buying this week will spend more. Those of us still shopping for holiday gifts will end up spending an average of $1278 on holiday presents this year, compared to $1077 among those who have literally wrapped up their holiday spending.
  3. Gift cards will be the “perfect” last minute addition.   Gift cards top the shopping list for those still in search of presents this week. Fortunately, they are also the No. 1 request on many wish lists. So pick a card. But not just any card. The most requested gift card brand? Amazon. Also popular: a favorite department stores, restaurant or specialty store. Picking the right one adds that personal (and not so last minute) touch.   Two in three shoppers will get it right—they ask what people want for the holidays.
  4. It’s probably too late to ask for electronics. If you’re hoping to sneak in a late request for a new tablet or smartphone, you might have to wait for your birthday. Most of the shopping for electronics was done during Thanksgiving weekend. Black Friday Warriors were out in force snagging the electronics deals.
  5. Male shoppers will outspend women shoppers. At least that’s what they report in the survey. When men report the holiday spending, the bill comes in at an average of $1,134, compared to $1,077 for women. Men will also spend more on their significant others. But then, men don’t mind spending more for convenience (53% of men agree versus 41% of women).
  6. More than half of us will have a holiday spending hangover. When the holiday bills start rolling in, 57% will feel like we overspent during the holidays. But men, despite spending more, are less likely to feel the post-holiday guilt (51% versus 63% of women). Go figure.
  7. Holiday shopping is stressful for four in ten of us. According to our survey, holiday shopping stress is related to the desire to find the “perfect gift,” pressure to stay on budget and maybe even over planning. Stocking filled with a gingerbread man.Those who say holiday shopping causes them stress are much more likely than the “non-stressed” to have a holiday budget (62% versus 46%), spend extra time to save money (73% versus 58%) but are more likely to overspend (67% versus 55%).   The takeaway: Chillax - it’s Christmas.

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12月 152014

You’re a retailer, it’s the holidays, data is flooding in from all points (if you’re lucky), and the last thing you want to hear from the higher-ups is that you need to “modernize.” And what do they actually mean when they say modernize anyway?

Well, modernizing doesn’t have to mean scrapping existing IT plans and projects and starting over. It can mean implementing organizational changes. It can mean fostering an analytics culture. And while it can mean adopting new analytics technologies – it can also mean taking small steps toward looking at your data in new ways. Don’t throw in the towel (or punch anyone in the face), instead take a look at how leading retailers Macy's, Chico's and eBay are using analytics to get big results:

Kerem Tomak, recent Vice President of Analytics for

Kerem Tomak

Macy’s ends one-size-fits-all email marketing

To more effectively measure and understand the impact of its online marketing initiatives on Macy's store sales, uses Hadoop as a data platform for SAS, resulting in an e-mail subscription churn reduction of 20 percent.

Initially, Kerem Tomak, who recently served as Vice President of Analytics for, was worried that segmenting customers and sending fewer, but more specific emails would reduce traffic to the website. “The general belief was that we had to blast everyone,’’ Tomak said. Today, emails are sent less frequently, but with more thought, and the retailer has increased customer insights, cross-sell and upsell effectiveness; productivity, revenue and customer satisfaction. [Read the full story here]

Chico’s integrates online and in-store data

Barb Buettin, Director of CRM – Enterprise Information Management at Chico’s

Barb Buettin

Online and in-store systems not “talking to each other” is an ongoing problem for retailers, but not for Chico’s. The women’s clothing retailer has a database that stores online shopping behavior and integrates it with the same shoppers purchasing behavior in-store.

For example, if an online customer looked at a certain pair of pants but didn’t purchase them – and then went to a store three days later to buy them, Chico’s knows it.

“That’s meaningful data for us,” says Barb Buettin, Director of CRM – Enterprise Information Management at Chico’s, “to understand how she’s navigating around the Web, what she’s browsing, and then tying that purchase behavior in a multichannel way back to that customer and attributing that behavior.” That data gives Chico’s a comprehensive picture of who its customers are, where they’re located, what they prefer, what items they purchase and when they shop. That insight helps provide customers with a better experience with Chico's. [To learn more, download this white paper]

eBay dominates mobile

If you still think of eBay as a site for people selling their kid’s used clothes, think again. Practically every retailer now needs to play on eBay’s marketplace. One reason is that eBay’s advanced monitoring and analysis of visitors’ surfing, browsing, buying and selling behavior has helped the online retailer develop one of the best mobile sites available. Another is that eBay’s PayPal service has become a predominant way consumers pay on mobile, online and even in-store. Many retailers are rolling out PayPal at point-of-sale terminals so that customers can pay via their PayPal accounts.

Natasha Zharinova, Head of Strategy and Finance for eBay's Dutch arm,

Natasha Zharinova

What do you think eBay’s going to do with all that data? They’re already using it to deliver the right ads to the right people at the right time, through the proper channels – including mobile devices and social media.

In the Netherlands, the Dutch arm of eBay ( can even predict revenue streams in detail and immediately respond to any changes in customer behavior. "We know how trade is affected by things like the time and date of purchase, school holidays, and even weather conditions; we can make accurate predictions based on this information," says Dr. Natasha Zharinova, Head of Strategy and Finance, "

A major advantage is also the ability to trace data sources. If something doesn't go as expected, we dive into the data to find a detailed explanation." [To learn more, read the full story on]

Want to hear more modernization tips from these retailers? Speakers from Macy’s, Chico’s and eBay are all presenting at NRF Retail’s Big Show 2015 Jan. 11-14 in New York. You can book a meeting and get a free Expo pass here. Hope to see you there!





tags: analytics, email, mobile, modernization, multichannel, nrf, retail
12月 012014

Binary Lock2014 was a rude wakeup call for retailers: In January, Target announced an additional 70 million individuals’ contact information was taken during the December 2013 breach. In September, Home Depot announced that cyber criminals had compromised the credit card information of roughly 56 million shoppers.

Neiman Marcus, Kmart, AT&T, Michaels and eBay all suffered cyber attacks this year that compromised the personal information of millions. Flagging consumer confidence was not helped by FBI Director James Comey recent statement:

“There are two kinds of big companies in the United States …
those who’ve been hacked …
and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked.”1

So it's no surprise that nearly half of US credit card holders are saying they’ll avoid shopping at stores that have been hacked (according to a survey by Going into the holidays, what can retailers do to beef up cybersecurity and regain consumer trust? Start with these five steps from cybersecurity expert Ray Boisvert:

  1. Make sure you can screen the massive amounts of data flowing into the organization in real time to catch threats before they cause damage. The Home Depot data breach was believed to happen over several months with bits of data leaking out of the torrent that the retailer manages daily.
  2. Use advanced analytics to reduce false alarms and detect the true problems. Target had technology in place that did alert it to the 2013 credit card hack – it was just one of the mass of alarms that were classed as false positives. The operations center staff didn’t know where to begin, or which were real threats.
  3. Integrate cybersecurity into core business requirements. It cannot continue to be an afterthought.
  4. Understand the origin and behavior of cybercriminals and other attackers, and then build that into the models that seek out anomalies.
  5. Devote more effort to recruiting the right staff and training them to engage this emerging organizational threat. Find the right external cybersecurity technology and practitioners.

And here’s a holiday bonus sixth step: Learn more about cybersecurity, reducing fraud and how analytics can help by visiting the SAS booth at NRF Retail’s Big Show 2015 Jan. 11-14 in New York. You can book a meeting and get a free Expo pass here. Hope to see you there!


tags: cybersecurity, nrf, retail
1月 162013

The SAS booth at #NRF13 is a popular place.

One of the amazing things I’m finding about the National Retail Federation’s “BIG Show” is the incredible amount of experience and knowledge walking the halls. There are 10-, 20- and 30-year veterans of the retail world everywhere you turn. Two of those professionals – Office Depot’s Alan Adams and Kerem Tomak from – presented a Big !deas session in front of a packed house on Monday afternoon. They discussed one of the hottest topics at this year’s event – cross-channel campaign management.

Using a screen grab from the Pixar movie, Finding Nemo, Adams began by telling the audience the water represents a company’s customer data and the fish represent the various departments that exist.

“The fish in the bags are in the water…but not really,” he said. “Companies that aren’t sharing customer data are just floating like the fish in the bags. We need to take advantage of customer data by sharing it with all the departments, and then use it to swim around the same customer.”

Tomak’s take on the picture had a marketing spin (which I, of course, loved). He said retailers need to think about the various types of campaign events (sales, new product rollout, etc.) and look at the various marketing tactics that drive people to those events, such as email, direct mail and online search. “You achieve the biggest ROI when these tactics are used to expose your customers to your campaigns,” he said. “Otherwise, there’s a big disconnect when your customers arrive at the store expecting to find some correlation with your marketing, only to find there is none.”

The focus on the customer through cross-channel campaign management was a common theme in this session. “Cross-channel campaign management uses a deep understanding of your prospects and customer to deliver the right message, at the right time, at the right offering, through an ever growing list of vehicles that is desired by the individual at any given moment,” Adams said. Amazingly, less than five hands in the audience went up when Adams asked if anyone was having success achieving multi-channel marketing. However, there were lots of nods when asked if they are trying to achieve that goal.

True cross-channel campaign management requires two-way communication with your customers. With so many purchasing options, it requires retailers (and other industries) to understand how customers interact with their brands through multiple touch point, digital and offline, and then to use that insight to build a two-way communication channel, Tomak said.

The SAS booth at #NRF13 is also a colorful place.

So how can retailers change how they interact with customers? According to both experts, the key is to organize your structure around the customer experience. Engage how they wish to be engaged, breaking down walls so each interaction is a single interaction with the brand. If a customer can’t get what they are looking for in a short amount of time, they’ll go to a competitor. Adams even half-joked that every customer is just one click away from not being a customer anymore. "That's why it's imperative that customers are at the center of everything we do."

That can be difficult with silos and other political challenges. Tomak concluded the panel discussion with some wise take-home counsel. He said, “We need to be like a conductor of an orchestra and get all the parts playing at the same time to make beautiful music. Marry your marketing with merchandising. Utilize analytics to better understand your customers. Optimize better and focus more.”

Or as Nemo so eloquently exclaimed as he worked with a school of fish to escape a dangerous fishing net, “Just keep swimming!”

tags: customer satisfaction, Macy's, nrf, office depot, retail
1月 162013

It's easy to see how a newcomer to "Retail's BIG Show" could be a bit overwhelmed. The booths are big, attendance is booming and there are "hot and new" solutions everywhere you turn. But as I've walked the halls and looked at what's being promoted, I've noticed a few trends that matter for marketers in any industry.

1.  Omni-channel is everywhere!
This event is all about connecting with customers, wherever they are and however they buy. The schedule sign outside the room where SAS' Big !deas sessions will be held shows four of six presentations will cover the topics of omni-channel, multi-channel or cross-channel. The message is loud and clear – it's up to retailers to provide consumers with multiple purchasing and engagement options: online, in stores, on the phone and mobile. And “omni-channel” means that it’s increasingly more than one channel simultaneously. Retail might be leading the way on this, but many other industries could benefit from improving their relationships with customers by making it easier to research, buy and interact with them.

2.  Mobile is here to stay.
This shouldn't be news to anyone, but it's obvious walking around the halls of the Javits Center. Lori Shafer and former NRF chairman Bernie Brennan discussed this very topic in the EXPO hall. But there are lots of exhibitors here sharing their solutions, too. Everything from in-store point-of-sale transactions to online product catalogs, so mobile is certainly a hot topic this week.

3.  Size doesn't matter?
Looking at conference-goers' badges is always a fun game at these types of events, as in "Hey, buddy. My eyes are up here!" I've seen lots of company names from retail outlets at my local mall and nearby shopping centers. But I've also seen a lot of smaller and not-well-known company names. It goes to show that the technology on display this week has applications for the Fortune 500 as well as SMBs. Don't we all want to optimize revenue? Or predict future inventory levels? Or know the best promotional price for a product? I love seeing so many companies embracing technology to work smarter and know how to connect with their customers.

Do you think there are lessons here for other industries? Please share a comment and let me know where you can see another application. I've got some more walking around to do, but I'll keep my eyes open for some more trends.

Tweet it to read it

If you want to share any insights you've had at #nrf13, tweet it using the show hashtag and @SASretail. Then, stop by the SAS booth to get a complementary copy of Tom Davenport's latest book, Enterprise Analytics: Optimize Performance, Process, and Decisions Through Big Data. It can help you implement large-scale analytics faster, avoid serious missteps and capture far more value.

tags: customers, Mobile Marketing, multi-channel, nrf, omni-channel, retail, tom davenport
1月 152013

Standing in Times Square in January usually means experiencing blistering cold and blustery winds. But this year, I sense there’s a change…it’s almost balmy! The retail industry is seeing a similar change with a shift in customer behavior, online retailers putting pressure on brick-and-mortar retailers and the rise of mobile. All those topics and more are part of the buzz at Retail’s BIG Show, the National Retail Federation’s annual gathering.

Once again, SAS has a big presence at "Retail's BIG Show"– a new booth, several sessions with customer speakers and a packed schedule of meetings and demos. It’s going to be a great show! Stop by and see us in booth #753 or attend one of the BIG !deas sessions we're hosting in room 3D08:

SAS is at NRF 2013 in Booth 753

Monday, January 13
"Improved Outcomes with Cross-Channel Campaign Management“
Featuring and Office Depot
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

SAS Big !deas Session
Featuring S-Group (SOK), Finland
4:30 pm – 5:15 pm

Tuesday, January 14

“Consumer Buying Behavior Is Changing, How Are You Responding?“
Featuring Indigo Books & Music and Nova Pontocom
9:15 am – 10:00 am

One of the most anticipated sessions is the NRF Super Session featuring SAS’ Lori Schafer and retail industry veteran Bernie Brennan. The pair will discuss how Amazon, Apple, eBay, Facebook and Google are shaping our mobile world. Now, more than ever, these titans’ strategies are laser focused on mobile – they are affecting everything from the devices themselves to the operating systems, mobile marketing, mobile shopping and mobile payment. Mark your calendars for Monday from 2:30pm – 3:15pm on the EXPO stage. It’s a session not to be missed!

There’s so much more at this year’s BIG Show in the Big Apple! Stop by the SAS booth for a cup of coffee, a free book and a powerful demo of the technology that is changing the way retailers interact with their customers and maximize revenues. See you there!

tags: Bernie Brennan, Lori Shafer, Macy's, nrf, office depot, retail
1月 092013
According to a recent article from Forbes, the three hottest trends in retail for 2013 are: Mobile -- 93 percent of mobile developers anticipate that it is “likely to very likely” that most retail companies will have enabled mobile commerce in 2013, and 2/3 of developers believe that consumers will [...]
1月 182012
A standing room only crowd gathered at the NRF BIG Show on Monday afternoon in New York to hear Winn-Dixie VP Chris Vukich share how this $7 billion regional grocer has achieved a successful pricing strategy that allows them to: See the impact of each price change. Create what-if scenarios. Model [...]