What Does Q4 Have in Store? Using Streaming Analytics to Serve Up Sensational Seasonal Programs

It’s that time of year again – the kids are back in school, the leaves are starting to turn, and the holidays are hovering right around the corner. Retailers have been hard at work for months already, launching back-to-school programs in June, rolling into Halloween in August and gearing up for Thanksgiving and Christmas sets earlier than ever before.

While seasonal retail programs deliver big dollars for retailers, they create a host of operational challenges around supply chain management and coordination between online and traditional brick and mortar retail locations.

What factors are driving these complexities, and how can retailers leverage streaming analytics to address these issues, streamline operations and deliver and keep their customers happy and loyal?

End-to-End Supply Chain Visibility

Successful seasonal programs rely on two key factors: timeliness and tight inventory planning. Unlike year-round programs that operate at a predictable and steady clip, seasonal businesses spike and collapse. Because there’s such a tight parameter around inventory sets, promotions, and customer interest in the merchandise, timely delivery is vitally important. And, because the purchasing window is so narrow, careful management around inventory depletion is critical to ensuring profitability.

Because timeliness and tight inventory planning are key drivers of seasonal program success, supply chain disruptions spell disaster. If you can’t detect and remediate supply chain disruptions down to the second of occurrence, even a minor problem can cause a ripple effect that can sink your seasonal program before it starts. However, if you’re leveraging streaming analytics, you can detect the issue as it’s happening and automate a workaround to keep critical deliveries on track.

Coordinating Business Units

Many large scale retailers operate both brick and mortar and online businesses and have traditionally managed them as discrete business units. As retail customers across the board have become multi-channel shoppers, it’s become very important to integrate the online and traditional retail experience.

With the advent of the “shop online and pick up in store” trend, up-to-the-minute coordination between business units is critical. If a customer orders a coveted Spiderman costume online and arrives at the store and learns that the item isn’t in stock, the benefit of the service is essentially negated and the customer is unduly inconvenienced and leaves unhappy.

However, through leveraging streaming analytics, retailers can mesh data from siloed business units in real time. Streaming analytics delivers full visibility in real-time around stock availability in all store locations – down to the item, SKU number, size and color. And, with time-sensitive seasonal products, customers want what they want and won’t wait. So if you don’t have it, they’ll shop elsewhere.

Streaming analytics capabilities provide retailers with the agility they need to successfully execute cross-channel seasonal programs. Through providing real-time situational awareness around supply chain management and potential disruption, streaming analytics empowers retailers to detect and remediate problems before they cycle through and delay time sensitive seasonal shipments. And, through integrating siloed business units, online units are able to both monitor stock status at a granular level across storefronts and deliver parity with respect to the traditional shopping experience along with the convenience of shopping online. Essentially, streaming analytics fuels the high quality cross-channel seasonal shopping experience that customers have come to expect.

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