Retail

How data warehousing and the cloud are bringing retail back

30 Oct 2018 | Share

How our database is turning data analytics into long term retail success.

The retail landscape across Europe has experienced fundamental and sudden change in the last few years. Many major names, that have been stalwarts of the high street and shopping centres for decades, have either cut back their physical operations, embarked on financially-challenging restructuring, or disappeared completely, becoming a footnote in the history of retail. But it is not all doom and gloom, while some have struggled, the high street is home to a number of retail successes that are thriving thanks, in no small part, to their use of innovative technology, maximising the value of their data sources and using analytics to make better predictive decisions. 

At the centre of this analytics shift is the now familiar debate around cloud and on-premise strategies. There are merits to both, but at Exasol, we believe that something as important as your long term data strategy needs to be a lot more flexible. That’s why many of the successful retailers are now opting for a hybrid cloud and on-premise approach. One that harnesses the almost limitless processing and storage capabilities of cloud platforms, such as AWS and Azure, while retaining the ability to interface with on-premise data and application resources. It also allows for the aggregation of data from elsewhere to further inform outcomes. 

This is important because retailers are looking not only for a competitive edge, but also for ways to better understand the customer, the marketplace, the supply chain and the evolution of trends. Gut feeling and experience alone are not enough anymore, data is essential to completing that equation.  

Case in point is our work with the e-commerce platform Zalando. It specialises in fashion, and is using data to deliver a marketing approach based on emotional and qualitative marketing. It is extracting smart insights that go far beyond the usual socio-economic and seasonal factors that drive the fashion sector, giving Zalando a level of differentiation that few can match. Our in-memory database is at the centre of Zalando’s analytics work using internal data sources, and external ones such as social media, to transform business intelligence (BI) into powerful analytics. This means it can help the organisation to anticipate and respond more quickly to customer behaviour, adapting its product range and go-to-market strategies along the way.    And we’ve made sure that it’s flexible enough to work both in the cloud, while easily fitting with any legacy data systems you have on-premise.  

It is not just fashion retailers that are benefitting from this approach. European ecommerce retailer Otto Group has undergone significant data analytics transformation in an effort to consolidate systems, data sources and be more agile in the face of a constantly changing marketplace. Rather than just bringing in waves of technology alone, it aligned the need to be smarter with data alongside the cultural and operational shifts needed to make such a new strategy work, and it engrained data-centricity into every business unit within the Otto Group family.  

The retail industry is undergoing profound transformation as it adapts to the changing requirements of consumers, the changing form of products and services, and the different ways that consumers want to interact with goods and services providers. Data analytics is not only essential to aid that journey, it is already embedded at the heart of most retailers. The key is ensuring the sector has the right tools, skills, processes and strategies in place to make best use of analytics-derived insights and information analysis, at both a business, and technical, level. And above all else, you need to have a database that’s built for the future of retail.