Three must-haves for your modern retail data stack

When retailers invest in a culture of data, they gain the ability to quickly navigate shifting customer priorities.
May 18, 2021

Retail businesses — including wholesale companies, CPG manufacturers and ecommerce organizations — require data, especially now as they navigate the buying shifts that have resulted from COVID-19.

Omnichannel agility and digital transformation have become fundamental to retail success. Insights from data sources must be readily available so retailers can make decisions that help them remain relevant — as well as outpace the competition.

What sort of data do retailers need?

Modern data architecture drives actionable insights for everyone, but actual data needs can vary by market sector:

Retail and wholesale companies

  • Customer 360° views that drive personalization and customer experience
  • Product, inventory, pricing and competitive intel to optimize pricing models
  • Supply-chain insights to optimize inventory and reduce out of stocks
  • Analysis and sharing data with partners
  • Cost reduction

CPG manufacturers

  • Exchange data and strengthen partnerships
  • Increase revenue through targeted marketing  
  • Integrate data to understand consumer trends

Ecommerce organizations

  • Track buying and shopping cart abandonment
  • Offer real-time recommendations and promotions
  • Forecast demand and product availability

How a modern data stack helps retailers compete

A modern data stack (MDS) adds elastic scalability: It can blend cloud-based data sources with the kind of legacy, on-premise solutions that exist in retail businesses of any size. Because an MDS is automated, data professionals can keep up with the business and support decision-makers with mission-critical, up-to-date information.

Key to it all are data connectors such as those from Fivetran, which are the fastest way to replicate applications, databases, events and files into a high-performance cloud warehouse. Fivetran connectors deploy in minutes, require zero maintenance and automatically adjust to source changes.

“We were a team of two developers, and there was no way we could build data connectors on our own,” says Atul Parasnis, Senior Manager of Data Engineering at ASICS. “We started to look at various vendors, and none of them could match Fivetran on ease of use and cost. Fivetran was a no-brainer.”

Retailers can then mobilize data on the Snowflake Data Cloud — a solution for data warehousing, data lakes, data engineering, data science, data application development and data exchange. They get seamless and governed access to their data to explore and share.

“Snowflake helps retailers break down data silos that are typical of legacy data architectures,” says Ganesh Subramanian, Product Marketing Director at Snowflake. “Creating a single source of truth for retailers can help them meet consumer needs and provide the personalized experiences that foster sales and customer loyalty.”

But for information to be useful, it must be easy to understand and act on. Retailers around the world are utilizing Tableau, a cloud-based visual analytics platform, to see and understand their data. Tableau provides enterprise analytics capabilities to front-line workers and the CEO — and everyone in between.

Tableau allows retailers to quickly see opportunities to improve performance that traditional analytics tools cannot capture. Jeff Huckaby, Tableau’s Director of Global Industry Advisors, Retail and Consumer Goods, explains it this way:

Analytics agility has always been important for retailers, but recent global events have made the stakes for not having that agility and adaptability more apparent. Supply chains, customer loyalty, customer expectations, and customer traffic flows have been completely disrupted. Agility means gathering new information and making decisions in minutes and hours, not weeks or months. One of the biggest problems with any analytics workflow is getting the data. Fivetran makes it incredibly easy to obtain data from multiple systems or platforms, sync the data with change data capture, and create all of the database objects needed for visual analysis at scale.

The short demo below showcases a Tableau dashboard running on Fivetran and Snowflake — with over 500 million transactions and over 3 billion inventory records. Despite those astronomical numbers, the insights are straightforward and informative:

Elastic scalability and agility mean retailers can leverage an MDS to create business value and efficiency — without growing their respective teams.

But first: Three must-haves for success

To get effective results, you must have data access, transparency and literacy.

These three must-haves, identified by Slalom as key components in a modern culture of data, are designed to shift organizations away from disjointed, legacy data practices and toward seamless, collaborative workflows. They will fuel game-changing data insights for boutique ecommerce businesses and warehouse giants alike.

Does this sound like a big order? It isn’t — but having a culture of data does require coordination and a plan.

Our new ebook explains how you can create a modern culture of data in your own organization — download it now.

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