Rebuilding your Retail Analytics for the New Normal

“Everything’s changed!” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to analytics

Predictive models, forecasts, and dashboards are all based on an environment that no longer exists. Shopping habits and even customer communities have changed. Data volumes shrunk as store traffic became almost non-existent. Even the data collected today is suspect as a basis for predicting what could be a very different future.

Pre-COVID, data collected over decades was used to predict shopping patterns, develop pricing strategies, manage supply chains, schedule staff, develop merchandise layouts and more. The tools, including data mining, statistical modelling and artificial intelligence, remain the same. The challenge comes from the need to reconfigure them to collect and work with different data, to accommodate different – and rapidly changing – models, and answer both traditional and new questions.

Along with the challenges come a unique opportunity. The accelerated move to digital interaction has provided retailers with massive amounts of new data from non-brick & mortar sources. Surges in mobile payment, delivery and BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup In Store) app usage provide a whole new set of consumer insights. Integrating all of this data with traditional POS and web site data can provide a significantly expanded view of customer journeys, preferences and habits.

There is additional good news for retailers who haven’t focused in this area previously - they now have a tremendous opportunity to rapidly catch up. Building larger data volumes by integrating data from multiple sources can be easier with models built from the ground up to work with those sources. Adding newer capabilities like spatial analysis and GIS mapping to allow for rapidly changing regional differences can be easier with the latest platforms and tools. Layering in machine learning to enhance decision making capabilities can be simpler with data models built with machine learning in mind. Overall, building new has the potential to deliver faster, more reliable and relevant, and less expensive results than adapting older models and systems.

As Canada’s leading retail recruiting specialist, we recognize the need for the advanced skillsets and extensive experience required to make these changes happen as Canada transitions to the “new normal”. In response, our team has proactively connected with hundreds of highly-experienced analytics professionals from Canada’s largest service sectors —retail and hospitality — to gain a sense of the currently available talent with the right skills. To share what we’ve found, we’ve included some sample profiles below of leaders in building and using advanced analytics capabilities.

These candidates represent some of Canada’s top retail analytics professionals. Their profiles show the kind of skills and experience that retailers will need to build up or build back the tools required to navigate the “new normal”. They may match yours, or you may discover you have transferrable skills. Retail professionals will be needed in other areas as well. If you focus on another field within retail, these profiles may give you some ideas regarding where you can add value as Canada’s retail industry re-opens.

Senior Product Analyst – Fashion (Toronto)

Equipped with an MBA, this senior analyst has a track record for thoroughly evaluating business processes and problems, then applying data analytics, strategic thinking, and creative problem solving to identify ways to add value. They also have a strong track record for then successfully collaborating with stakeholders to deliver impactful results. Experienced in luxury and fashion retail, they’re currently a strategic level resource within the merchandise team. This experienced analyst is a creative thinker with the unique ability to balance the art and science of fashion and business, one who can incorporate out-of-the-box thinking with existing business frameworks, financial modelling, and the "right" data needed for decision making.

Director – Data, Financial Planning and Insights – CPA (Vancouver)

This transformational analytics and finance leader has hands on experience leveraging data and insights to optimize corporate performance in retail, technology and telecommunications settings. Their core skillset involves translating complicated technical and data driven subject matter into actionable business outcomes. Building on those skills, they’ve been spearheading the development of a data and analytics transformation strategy at several Fortune 500 companies, while building a team focused on providing strategic customer insights. They’ve owned profit and loss reporting, variance analysis and strategic planning accountability for business units with $1B in direct net income. While serving as a key adviser to the Finance, Marketing and Sales executive teams, they’ve developed and presented complex financial results, forecasts and plans. Familiar with partnering across functions to uncover process improvement opportunities, they have a history for successfully bringing transparency to corporate performance and providing solid, data driven recommendations for future growth.

Senior Supply Chain Analyst – CSCP (Toronto)

This results driven, certified supply chain professional comes with ten plus years’ experience in supply & demand planning and customer service projects with cannabis and grocery retail and foodservice leaders in Canada. That experience includes championing challenging supply chain initiatives, proactively managing results, and successfully collaborating with cross functional business partners to build solutions. Their work includes multiple inventory optimization projects that resulted in significant working capital improvement, and industry benchmarking across planning processes to improve efficiencies. In their last role, they reduced obsolete inventory write off by $400,000+, improved forecast accuracy by 10% and decreased overall supply chain costs. They’re customer focused and dedicated to improving inventory levels and service results.

Market Research and Customer Insights Analyst (Montreal)

As an enthusiastic, analytical-driven individual, this candidate is passionate about to uncovering the complex consumer-brand relationship and moving from understanding shopper behaviours to building a strong, appealing brand. Their core strategy involves analyzing customer purchasing experiences, both online and in-store, and triangulating them with current trends to create clear, meaningful strategies. This exceptional candidate has deep experience with business intelligence, ecommerce and digital marketing for the fashion, mass merchandise and CPG industries. Their experience spans customer data analytics, strategic market research, customer experience design and project management, providing them with a unique ability to delve deep into the details while maintaining focus on the big picture. They’re ready to lead the strategy, planning and execution of consumer research and Net Promoter Score (NPS) programs and initiatives, and head a dynamic team of consumer researchers and customer experience professionals.

To learn more on this and other retail trends and insights you can check out our blog.

Written by Jessica Finch.