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Real-time pricing: coming to a store near you
Personal shopping is on the brink of taking on a whole new meaning. The advancement of mobile technology and the information held on individuals' shopping histories means product prices could soon adapt as shoppers walk up and down their supermarket aisle.
Gone are the days of retailers only being able to actively manage the price of a small number of products once a week. Algorithmic pricing and real-time competitive pricing data allows the changing of product prices on the fly.
Amazon is at the forefront of such "real-time pricing" initiatives, which have traditionally been the preserve of online-only retailers.
However, brick-and-mortar retailers in the US are showing their UK counterparts the limitless possibilities when it comes to dynamic pricing.
Independent consumer electronics retailer Abt Electronics pipes competitive pricing data gathered by Dynamite Data into its point-of-sale systems to allow staff to negotiate prices at the point-of-sale, according to Dynamite Data chief executive Diana Schulz.
Sainsbury’s claims real-time pricing would result in "chaos", while Asda says such a strategy would be a "nightmare"
Meanwhile, another one of Dynamite Data’s un-named clients uses electronic shelf labels and re-prices every product in their stores each morning based on the prices of its rivals.
The ability to change prices dynamically is not simply the preserve of all-powerful brands such as Walmart or Target either.
Schulz explained that her company has "seen these types of technologies in both large and mid-sized retailers" despite the "investment in technology and competitive data that is typically needed".
Back in the UK things are not quite as close to a Minority Report-style personalized shopping experience.
Even online-only specialists Shop Direct and Ocado claim they do not engage in real-time pricing, while those that do heavily use real-time data to adapt their prices such as the airline brands are reluctant to discuss the issues.
EasyJet declined to comment when contacted because of commercial sensitivities around discussing pricing-related issues.
Grocers Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s have all claimed they do not engage in real-time pricing, with the latter two both citing the logistical difficulties in aligning such a strategy across their physical stores and online presence.
A Sainsbury’s spokesman claims real-time pricing would result in "chaos", while an Asda spokeswoman saying such a strategy would be a "nightmare".
Yet, despite such a negative perspective from UK brands, experts are confident real-time pricing will arrive on these shores sooner or later.
Simon Spyer, a partner of VCCP data arm Conduit who began his career working on the Sainsbury's Nectar business, believes the UK will begin to see "more and more" of matching rivals’ prices dynamically, particularly in the grocery and electrical sectors.
He explained that real-time pricing is likely to affect "anything where the product is largely commoditized" and in instances where the only way retailers can differentiate that product is by "being really keen on price".
As it stands the major barrier for implementing "real-time pricing" in-store is changing the prices to match the online price, a hurdle that could be removed by the electronic shelf labels being pioneered in the US.
Schemes like Tesco Price Promise and Asda Price Guarantee already use real-time data to 'price match'
In the UK various retailers have dipped their toes into the water when it comes to electronic shelf-labeling including a Nisa Local store in Shrewsbury that launched a trial in August last year to carry out automatic pricing and timed promotional updates, alongside QR codes and meal ideals.
Tesco has also experimented with electronic labeling on various occasions with trials in 2006 and 2008, but the retail giant has yet to combine real-time pricing with its electronic labels.
Spyer claims "the capability is definitely there both online and offline – it is whether there is a business rationale for investing in it".
However, with major UK supermarkets lacking a pressing reason to implement real-time pricing, that investment may be slow in arriving, argues Kaye Coleman, the founder of price consultancy Ripe Strategic.
Coleman explains: "The supermarkets already do price matching – it is not so sophisticated but price matching is already happening".
Schemes including the Tesco Price Promise, the Asda Price Guarantee and the Sainsbury’s Brand Match currently use real-time data to "price match" by offering money off the next shop.
A cynic could argue the supermarkets should knock money off at the till rather than relying on customers to redeem their vouchers at the next shop, but such an action could hit the companies' bottom line.
The growing sophistication of mobile marketing is also likely to revolutionize the way brands approach their price matching.
"If you can come up with a value proposition where I check-in [on my mobile] when I walk through the store for the first time and that presents me with a personalized experience based on my purchase history then I could see the benefit for a customer and a retailer," said Spyer.
The trick for retailers is persuading customers to adopt such behavior, but the offer of being delivered ever-changing personalized price offers and messages in-store is a compelling proposition.
Personalization is already a priority for retailers. Sainsbury’s uses anonymized shopping data gathered from the Nectar card to personalize offers.
The levels of personalization offered by Sainsbury’s are increasingly complex. If a female customer buys folic acid they will be sent promotions on other pregnancy-related supplements during the pregnancy period and offers on nappies further down the line.
UK retailers are sure to keep a close eye on developments over the Atlantic, with Schulz claiming she knows of clients that are piloting technologies that enable in-store personalized discounts.
The challenges on the high-street mean there will inevitably be more casualties, but real-time pricing does not have to be the sole preserve of online-only retailers.
Innovative ways of manipulating real-time data could be the shot in the arm the high-street retail industry so desperately needs.
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk
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With over 10 years experience working solely in the Data & Analytics sector our consultants are able to offer detailed insights into the industry.
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May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As we continue to untangle ourselves from the cabin-fever isolation of the winter months post-pandemic, many are feeling overwhelmed and mentally burdened. It’s a lot to manage – remote working, virtual schooling, mask mandates, vaccine appointments, and the day-to-day screen time and Zoom meetings. It’s no wonder people are turning, once more to the virtual space for help. From mindfulness and meditation apps and videos to physician-focused telehealth assistance in the health space, there is digital technology at play. While it may seem as if apps keep people from going to the source and seeking professional help in the mental health space, having an app is helping people make the decision to sit down one on one with someone. Mind the App: A Note on Market Trends There is a proliferation of mindfulness meditation apps available on Google Play, iOS systems, and on YouTube, just to name a few. In fact, the market is set to grow exponentially over the next five to ten years. And technology companies have been paying attention. Key trends include: Design simplicity and collaboration with subject matter expertsEngagements both personal and professional which lower energy levels leading to disturbed sleep. While millennials search for a more whole (read: work/life) balanced life, it’s reported Generation Z is likely to have the worst mental health issues and desire to seek alternative therapy options.Apps-focused issues include insomnia, anxiety, depression, mindfulness, and whole being self-care.More and more Americans understand mindfulness and meditation are the best resources to help unwind and lessen stressors. Not all apps are created equal, but Headspace and Calm are two of the top contenders and most widely used. Those higher-level products backed by teams to ensure everything runs smoothly are outpacing the proliferation of self-help apps which number upwards of 20,000. Digital Technology and Machine Learning are Moving Things Forward From AI to Digital Technology to Machine Learning, Data professionals are working to ensure mental health apps are not a flash in the pan. Especially for those who may need help the most such as high utilizers. These high utilizers are those who may have multiple issues and check themselves into hospitals most frequently. Just like people worried about robots taking jobs, some therapists may worry these apps could replace in-person therapy treatments. This is unlikely as it may embolden those who need help to seek treatment in the more traditional sense. In fact, some apps could enhance therapy work rather than detract from it. Machine learning tools helped researchers analyze nearly 10,000 patients’ EHR Data over a 2-year period. The algorithm analyzed all the factors at once for a much more efficient breakdown and determination of each factor to best identify patient characteristics. Understanding this information helped researchers determine which factors lead to the disorders for higher utilization. Dangers and Predictions With nearly 20,000 mental health apps on the market, there are probably a fair number which aren’t as useful as they hope or claim to be. And some can be dangerous as was discovered in a 2015 study in which therapies for bipolar disorder were found to be inconsistent with established treatments (Nicholas, J., et al., Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2015). Not to mention ineffectual apps and those which disrupt treatments already in place and established. Mindfulness Apps at Work For happier, healthier workers not burned out from Zoom-fatigue and remote working, business leaders are focusing more and more on mental health. Some are offering mindfulness moments or group yoga classes or meditation opportunities throughout the day for a mental health break. Mental health discussions are now standard practice and efforts to open up more on this front through self-care prioritization and workplace wellness are making their mark. Employee mental health is top of mind as businesses and employees navigate the new normal when it comes to work, education, and the blurring of personal and professional lives as we continue remote practices. What was once taboo and swept under the rug has been met with Digital Technology, Apps, AI, Machine Learning, and the door is open for discussion. Whether you take a mindfulness minute, write in a journal, meditate, or log in to your app remember mental health awareness is about self-care for the whole you. Need a mental health break? There’s an app for that. If you’re interested in Big Data and Analytics, Harnham may have a role for you. Check out our current vacancies or contact one of our expert consultants to learn more. For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to email@example.com. For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
06. May 2021
What if we could imagine a city in which there were no traffic bottlenecks or jams? What if we could sail through tolls and park using an app? Could high-speed rail replace cars as our main means of transport commuting to and from work? Would travel apps with our faces, government IDs, and medical records launch us past the long security lines at the airport? We already use computers to help us navigate our destinations, buy plane or train tickets, and in some cities, park using only our location and a credit card. Already a part of our day-to-day for many, computer vision is moving us along at a rapid rate. Smart cities are changing the way we move Computer Vision is being used in a variety of ways and is modernizing our transportation infrastructure for a start. Using advanced technology, computers are learning to ‘see and hear’ and make informed decisions much as humans might to make our world more efficient and safer. Below are just a few places Computer Vision is already in play in our communities: Traffic patternsTraffic signals – connected cameras watch for pedestrians as they monitor traffic flow. These connected cameras also help to optimize flow and reduce congestion.Street lamps – imagine saving electricity by dimming street lamp switches then turning them back on if movement is detected.Tolls – camera captures of your license plate billed to where it's registered and EZ Pass lanes – one pass to move across highways without slowing, stopping, or having to handle cash or coin.GPS warnings – red for stopped traffic, yellow for slowed trafficParking apps - in cities with significant parking issues such as limited space. Imagine using a location-based service parsed into zones and your credit card to not only find a parking spot more easily, but to guarantee your car won’t be towed or mishandled.Clear ID - when traveling both domestically and internationallyHigh-speed rail - in some cities and talks under way for more. Commuter trains are moving beyond New York and Chicago to other cities such as Atlanta, Detroit, and Dallas just to name a few. These are just a few ways cities are being modernized for individuals. But what about on a grander scale? With the increase of online orders and demand for delivery in the last year or two, it’s estimated that over 1 million packages were delivered in New York each day. Extrapolate that to the other 49 states and the amount of traffic on the road that is strictly for deliveries soon overtakes that of individual commuters. Computer Vision is Solving for Delivery Congestion For many downtowns, parking can be a bear. Especially if you have a delivery van or truck. Where do you park to make your deliveries? Remember, you’re on a deadline. All. The. Time. What if a car is parked in your loading zone? What if there’s too much traffic to park? What had once plagued urban roadways was now a bone of contention to deliver products in a timely manner. On the more negative side of these frustrations, parking revenue was virtually eliminated as the larger companies absorbed the costs into their cost of doing business. No one was getting anywhere fast. Enter Computer Vision technology. Once the reason behind the problem was understood, cities could begin to plan for a solution. This technology could be used to help city planners understand curbside activity so they could tailor their plans based on their cities’ needs. With the proper data to make more informed decisions, cities can plan locations for passenger parking, ride-hailing lots, and delivery only zones to make more efficient use of people’s parking needs. Next Steps Toward a Modernized Infrastructure Curb management is just one of the options that America is working on to modernize its infrastructure. Making traffic patterns and flow more efficient is another. Imagine a plan in which pedestrians, drivers, cyclists, commuters, and delivery fleets can safely share the road while also investing in clean energy solutions. Adding in infrastructure plans to also help combat climate change makes it a win-win for everyone. If you’re interested in Big Data & Analytics, Harnham may have a role for you. Check out our current vacancies or contact one of our expert consultants to learn more. For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to email@example.com. For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
29. April 2021
Data is all around us. We use it to calculate our calories and our steps to ensure a healthy body. We use it track our packages and ensure delivery to the right location. We look to it to check the weather for exercise, driving conditions, and in extreme cases, safety preparedness. But, could we use it to fight climate change? Could we use it to reign in swiftly rising temperature changes which could affect our food and ecosystems? Greener Choices for Greener Products People have more choice than ever before. They also have information at their fingertips and can see at a glance the benefits or the drawbacks of purchases. From how their food is grown to how far their food is delivered to the practices of companies from oil and gas producers to the wearables on their wrist. Climate change and Big Data have been linked, but mostly to determine greenhouse gases and effects of pollutants. But with the rise of consumer advocacy groups, farm-to-table traditions, micro-and macro-farming, and a desire to know more about what we’re putting into our bodies, consumers are dictating greener options from the markets. The Business of Climate Risk Analytics As consumers take note of climate change, companies are merging knowledge of climate change risk into their financial decision making. How will climate change their business practices? How will it be scaled based on how climate science rules inform financial risk assessments not yet developed? The markets need just as much information as consumers when it comes to climate risk. These assessments are intended to businesses determine consequences, responses, and likelihood of the impacts of their actions. Enter climate risk analytics. Climate Risk Analytics uses risk assessment and risk management based on natural disasters and their impact. However, the climate is not in a static state. It’s ever-changing and those changes are often in the extremes with little information related to averages. This complicates risk assessments as do the differences in regional projections. How AI Can Help Big data combined with climate risk analytics is getting an additional boost from artificial intelligence. AI techniques are being used for a variety of situations such as disease tracking, crop optimization, and monitoring everything from our heartbeat to endangered species. Solutions from advances in Deep Learning and Machine Learning could solve global environmental crises while assuaging financial risk with predictive modelling. Yet barriers to effective solutions from AI include cost and regulatory approval. But if these items weren’t an issue? We could determine such vital information as water availability and ecosystem wellbeing. Water and ecosystems aside, AI can help: Track and monitor endangered speciesImprove energy efficienciesOptimize wildlife conservation Fight poaching of endangered speciesTrack mosquito populations to prevent diseaseWarn populations of upcoming storms• Inform agriculture, health, and climate studiesDetermine water, forest, and urbanization changesSome vineyards in California use AI to determine if vines receive enough or too much water. AI’s ability to process large amounts of information quickly are a boon to the ever-changing climate, its risk assessments for businesses, and its benefits to consumers and investors who want to know what businesses are doing to keep everyone safe. In Honor of Earth Day This week we celebrate Earth Day. It’s a day to remember and honor the earth who gives us our air, our food, our animals, plants, fish, and so much more. From Greta Thunberg’s School Strike for Climate to Naomi Klein’s book, The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, climate is front and center of our thoughts and our survival. Want to be part of the movement working with Climate Risk Analytics or the effect of Artificial Intelligence in our environment? Harnham may have a role for you. From Big Data & Analytics to the Life Sciences, there’s something for everyone interested in the Data industry. Check out our current vacancies or contact one of our expert consultants to learn more. For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to email@example.com. For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
22. April 2021
Siloed teams are swiftly becoming a thing of the past as organizations learn collaboration is key. Businesses are embracing transformation. But some may not know where to turn to help them manage such a massive restructuring of operations. Enter the DevOps Engineer. Yes, Virginia. The unicorn employee does exist. What is a DevOps Engineer? For many businesses, it’s a dream to find a technical person who can also communicate across departments. In the DevOps Engineer role is an IT Generalist who not only has a deep understanding of codes, infrastructure management, and agile familiarity but who also possesses interpersonal skills. It’s this combination that makes this role so imperative to businesses. Working across siloes and bringing teams together for collaboration bridges the gap between the technical and non-technical departments. One of their most important roles is as advocate. Moving from siloed teams to the more collaborative environment of a DevOps culture can be difficult for engineering team members. But as advocate for the benefits, the DevOps Engineer can explain it best to those with whom they’ve worked. Their technical expertise puts them on par with their peers and their interpersonal skills offer a way to communicate across the organization. Want to Restructure Your Skills toward DevOps? If you’re an IT Generalist with great communication skills. DevOps Engineer could be your next role. But what skills do you need and how might you streamline what you already know into this key role for many businesses? Technical skills depend on team structure, technologies in place, and tools already in use. But the key element of a DevOps Engineer is their strong communication and collaborative skills. Can you morph your technical world into layman’s terms for the executives? Can you translate different needs across teams from QA testers to software developers, generalists and specialists alike? It’s this deep understanding which makes you so valuable to employers. For many organizations, this is the best of both worlds. Knowing the pros and cons of available tools. Understanding the components of a delivery pipeline. And strong communication skills to bridge once siloed teams into a cohesive and collaborative environment. More technical skills include, but aren’t limited to System administration – such as managing servers, database deployment, and system patching just to name a few.Experience with DevOps tools – understand the lifecycle from building and infrastructure to operating and monitoring a product or service.Configuration management – experience with configuration management tools such as Chef, Puppet, or Ansible to automate admin tasks.Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD) – this is a core practice of DevOps. It’s this role’s approach to software development with tools to automate the building, testing, and deploying of software processes. System architecture and provisioning – ability to design and manage computer ecosystems whether in-office or in the cloud. Within this skillset is the importance of Infrastructure as Code (IaC). This is an IT management process that applies best practices from software development to cloud infrastructure management. Collaborative management skills – while the CI/CD skills are core to the technical side, this is one of the key components for the soft skills required for a DevOps structure. In a Nutshell DevOps (Development + Operations) is a practice that involves new management principles and requires a cultural change. And a DevOps Engineer is the heart of the transformation. Yet they can’t do it alone. A good DevOps Team has more than just one engineer. It involves a mix of generalists and specialists to implement and improve these practices within the software development cycle. A few of these roles include: DevOps evangelist Automation expert Software developer Quality assurance If you’re interested in Big Data and Analytics, Harnham may have a role for you. Check out our current vacancies or contact one of our expert consultants to learn more. For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to email@example.com. For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
15. April 2021