The best gift for retailers this season: analytics

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Retail analytics Gilt retailer customer intelligence giftIt’s that time of year again, and I have retail on my mind. Not only because we’re reaching the peak of the holiday buying season, but because we at SAS are getting ready for one the biggest events on our calendar, the National Retail Federation tradeshow in January.

As I’m thinking about retail, I’m thinking about the unique ability of analytics to help drive sales. In some respects, brick-and-mortar retailers have an innate advantage over online stores. They can get to know customers face-to-face and understand sizes, tastes and needs on a personal level. To match that level of knowledge, online retailers must turn to the power of analytics.

One of the fastest-growing retailers in the online world is doing just that. Gilt Groupe is a purveyor of luxury goods not typically found online, such as designer samples and overstocks from 2,000 partner brands. You can find everything from high-end gifts and elegant stocking stuffers to one-of-a-kind luxury experiences. Recently I even saw an offer for a guys’ weekend in the Dominican Republic. Hoping Santa brings me that one.

The products are offered in small quantities and at a steep discount, but only to an exclusive audience and only for a limited time.

As a result, things have to be precise, so Gilt is using SAS® Analytics to better understand what its customers want. Decisions need to happen fast because, at Gilt, a new sale starts every day and is quickly over. The company needs to intimately understand which customers are drawn to the site in order to understand what merchandise will be the most appealing. Fortunately, the data was there. Between demographic data, browsing and shopping history, mobile and transaction data, and marketing history, Gilt had what it needed to get started. But data alone doesn’t equal customer insight.

CEOs and CIOs often learn this lesson the hard way, but Gilt had an analytical mindset early on. The company chose SAS because our solutions can access and combine information from a high number of sources. Gilt also liked the ability to quickly produce reports that were relevant to all facets of its business. I’m happy that the Gilt team recognized our expertise in these areas, but I’m even happier that they’re now taking things to the next level. They’ve scaled up to tackle the more complex analytic challenges, like customizing marketing messages, finding the best customers for cross-sell promotions and helping Gilt's partners understand its shoppers.

I’m glad to say that, thanks to analytics, Gilt is seeing customers browsing in entirely new merchandise categories that it hadn’t previously considered. It’s also seeing new members converting from browsers to shoppers. When analytics was added, the return on investment was positive and immediate.

Gilt tells us they’ve learned three important lessons:

  • Link the data to the business results you want to achieve.
  • Test and measure.
  • Start early with analytics in order to grab the quick wins.

The lesson other retailers can learn from Gilt’s success? Offer a highly personalized customer experience and put analytics at the core. It’s really that simple. And that’s SAS’ gift to retailers. Learn more about the Gilt story. Want to know how other retailers like Macy’s, Chico’s and eBay are using analytics to get big results? Read “3 ways retailers are modernizing with analytics.”

And if you plan to be in New York in January, stop by the SAS booth at Retail’s Big Show 2015, hosted by the National Retail Federation. We’ll be glad to tell you more about how analytics can raise the roof on your retail results. Hope to see you there.

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Carl Farrell

Former Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer

Carl Farrell formerly led SAS teams across more than 60 countries around the world. He was the chief architect behind the long-term vision and operational strategy to ensure that growth and market potential are achieved.

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