With over 10 years experience working solely in the Data & Analytics sector our consultants are able to offer detailed insights into the industry.
Visit our News & Blogs portal or check out our recent posts below.
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
Click here for the article on the web.
With over 10 years experience working solely in the Data & Analytics sector our consultants are able to offer detailed insights into the industry.
Visit our News & Blogs portal or check out our recent posts below.
GitHub. How-To Geek. Toptal. Zapier. These are just a few of the businesses which have been 100% remote since their inception. On the front lines of the remote working lifestyle, they understand the benefits and the challenges businesses new to remote teams are facing. In recent years, some businesses tried offering remote working, then pulled workers back in house. Some offer part-time work-from-home opportunities, but still required a few days in the office. In today’s climate, businesses have been forced to develop remote working strategies and everyone is learning how to manage this new way of doing business. There are a variety of apps and software to help businesses work as close to the old ways as possible. So, as remote workers learn how to balance their personal and professional lives while at home, leaders also must learn how to manage remotely. Below are a few immediate benefits of remote teams for business. Three Immediate Benefits of Remote Working Less overheadsLess office politicsIncreased productivity However, there’s more to leading remote workers than the above. As teams tighten, it’s important to ensure everyone is on the same page. Most of what’s been done within the office walls can also be done virtually. Planning a staff meeting? Zoom. WebEx. GoToMeeting. Google Hangouts. Microsoft Teams. These are all video conferencing call software applications you can use to not only conduct your weekly staff meetings, but client meetings as well. Record the meetings so you can refer to comments or questions, you may have missed or to refresh your memory of planned next steps. Managing projects? Think Trello. Asana. Monday. Basecamp. Slack. Assign teams. Have a space just for brainstorming or just for fun. Emulate the office environment of those quick hallway meetings and watercooler chats. Need to access documents from anywhere? Google Drive. Dropbox. Box. These are just a few of the applications which allow anyone with a link to jump in and add their two cents, comment or correct. Does your team have all the necessary equipment? Computers, phones, access codes, passwords? How can you help them best do their jobs? These are just a few things to think about when planning for and leading remote teams. Leading Remote Teams One of the issues remote workers once faced was “out of sight, out of mind” leadership. In an office, it can be easy for a manager to walk past someone and communicate on the fly or for remote workers to feel left out in company events, strategy sessions, or general camaraderie with others in the office. Companies who have always been or are moving to fully virtual teams have now levelled the playing field. However, this change marks just how important communication is for your team. Often, the best managers will check-in regularly. These managers are good listeners who offer feedback, check on progress, and determine if there’s too much workload or if an employee is ready to take on another project. Managers who communicate without micromanaging engage in trust and accountability of their employees. Having this kind of ownership of habits and behaviors can improve productivity and the trust goes both ways. Reach out to everyone on your team regularly. To ensure you’re including everyone when you assign tasks or projects, it’s a good idea to have a list of employees with their photos. Set Clear Boundaries and Guidelines It’s even more important when working from home to set clear hours for working and avoid burnout. Add to this the best methods of communication to use such as a project management app like Slack, a quick text or Skype call, or an email. Don’t forget to make allowances for how things like childcare may be handled as many are not only working from home, but may also be homeschooling, too. Ensuring everyone is clear on when they can turn to colleagues versus when they should reach out to their leaders helps put everyone on the same page. Keep Everyone Connected Remote working is a lifestyle. But not everyone may be ready for it or have the personality for it. One benefit of the brick-and-mortar office is camaraderie and connection, even if it’s just a smile and wave in the hallway. Even the most resolute remote workers feel lonely and disconnected at times. Staying on task can feel paramount to success, but to meet the new challenges of a virtual team go a little deeper. Not only is it important to make time for personal interaction, but businesses can organize virtual check-ins and fun events. Think Trivia time, funny videos or GIFs, even virtual pizza parties. It’s important in this time of social distancing and remote working lifestyle to stay connected and engaged with your workforce. It could even make your business stronger and more in sync than ever before. Not only can it be of benefit to your business, but can also offer and open up opportunities for more future employees. Without a location base, you open yourself up for the right person for the job, no matter where they are.In the wake of work-from-home policies, remote working, and the shifting landscape of working outside the office, technology careers are prime opportunities to both gain increased knowledge in your chosen field or begin your career path. If you’re interested in Big Data & Analytics or other Data professional opportunities, check out our current vacancies or get in touch one of our expert consultants to learn more. For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to email@example.com.
02. April 2020
So, you’ve been told to work from home. Finally, more time with the family… Wait, more time with the family? How will you get your work done while also homeschooling your children? Maybe you’re married and your spouse is home, too. The routine of work has been disrupted, and though many businesses were already turning to remote work, this is something else. So, how do you morph from leaving the house to go to the office to simply walking into your kitchen or home office to begin your day? In other words, how do you draw the line between work and family when you’re working from home? We know it can be difficult and unsettling in this troubled time, so we have a few tips to get you started. Getting Started in Your Remote Working Lifestyle DEFINE YOUR WORK SPACE What room can you designate in your house to be your “office.” It’s best to have someplace with a door, but this isn’t always possible. Is it the kitchen table? Ok, but this will mean you need to set strict ground rules about the hours you’re “on.” Make sure everyone understands when you’re “at work.” Whether it’s your kitchen table, a quiet room, or the end of your sofa with your laptop, these are your remote working tools. In some cases, it may even be a good idea to invest in noise-canceling headphones to help you stay focused. HAVE SET HOURS Define what hours you’re working and stick to them. Begin and end your day at the same time. Don’t forget to schedule breaks – coffee break, lunch, a stretch of the legs – around the same time each day as well. Work with your team to set hours for when you’ll be online working and respond to off-hour messages within your working hours. Without designated hours, it can feel like you’re constantly available and always “on” blurring the lines between work and family. Get some fresh air when you can. Step outside for a walk or a coffee, whatever brings you outside can help recharge and energize you for the work ahead. ENSURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TOOLS Remote working apps, videoconferencing tools, and cloud-based filing systems help ensure the job gets done. Make sure you keep your passwords in a safe place and be extra cautious when logging in from a new location. Is your computer up-to-date? Does it have all the security measures and capacity in place for the additional online tools and apps you may need to add? Making sure you address these things can help to solidify your workspace and ensure you’re able to meet with your team online and get the job done. FOLLOW THE 20-20-20 RULE The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes look away from your screen and focus your eyes on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. TAKE A BREAK FROM TALKING ABOUT WORK If you’re not used to working-from-home, loneliness can quickly set in. Remember those quick hallway chats or discussions over lunch or coffee? Take that impulse and use it when talking with your team. Have a virtual coffee break. Take a break from work and talk about hobbies, something funny that happened to you, or even just how you’re feeling away from everyone. You won’t be alone in these feelings with everyone in the same work-from-home boat. These tips can help you put your best foot forward for your remote working lifestyle. But don’t forget, you can use these same rules for family time, too. In the wake of work-from-home policies, remote working, and the shifting landscape of working outside the office, technology careers are prime opportunities to both gain increased knowledge in your chosen field or begin your career path. If you’re interested in remote Big Data & Analytics opportunities, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our current vacancies or contact one of our expert consultants to find out more. For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to email@example.com.
26. March 2020
Facial Recognition software. Autonomous vehicles. Drone delivery. Robotics in manufacturing. 3D Printing. No longer the stuff of science fiction, these advancements are at the heart of the next evolution in the digital age. Developments are not just being made in the tech hubs of Silicon Valley, Austin, or New York, but in the mid-West. Ann Arbor, Michigan home to the University of Michigan and not too far from where Henry Ford first introduced mass production with the help of automation has been advancing robotic technologies across a variety of fields. Giving machines their own set of eyes does require someone to ensure they have the right information to do their jobs. Enter the Computer Vision Engineer. It’s estimated this field will see a rise of 19% demand through 2026. It’s also a relatively small field with only 5,400 new job openings. So, like many professions, demand is high yet a shortage remains of those Data professionals with the right skillsets. The Business of a Computer Vision Engineer While there are a variety of roles within the field of Computer Vision, the role of Computer Vision engineer focuses on two areas. Those areas are: Writing code in Python/C++ Integrate Data Visualization, image analysis, and imaging simulation controls In addition to these areas, these scientists focus on research, implementation, reaching across teams both human and machine to help solve real world problems. And as important as knowledge and application theory are, it’s the hands-on experience which raises the bar for most employers and client companies. Using image recognition, machine learning, and segmentation can help machines learn to differentiate various images. Being able to “see” what the computer may see and correcting it to ensure it’s more like human vision takes a special skillset. This can include: Computer Vision librariesDatabase managementComponent or object-oriented softwareAnalytical, logical, and critical thinkingClear reasoning It’s these skillsets along with a background in mathematics and computer languages like C++ which pave the Computer Vision engineer career path. The Future of Computer Vision The days of the generalist are long behind us. Now, more than ever, technologies like machine vision require a dedicated focus. With every field from healthcare to law enforcement to manufacturing utilizing these technologies, the future of Computer Vision performs a broader range of functions. In Ann Arbor, at the University of Michigan and in partnership with Ford Motor Company, advancements race through every field not the least of which is manufacturing. As they transition toward full automation using the Internet of Things and more autonomous processes, it’s even more important to ensure Computer Vision models understand what they’re “seeing.” Computer Vision engineers will help to advance technologies which make machines easier to train and more easily figure out images better than they do now. Used in conjunction with other technologies like neural networks and other subsets of AI, machines will be able to see and interpret in the same way humans see and interpret. And as far as we’ve come, there remains more applications and benefits not yet explored. The possibilities are endless. Current and future advancements will pave the way for AI to be as human as we are bringing our once science fiction ideas to life. One Final Thought… Though Computer Vision engineering can be drilled down to even more focused professions, the term itself is broad. But the specializations are basic with a demand for not only highly skilled professionals with the right educational background, but also hands-on experience. This detail is more important now than ever before, especially for Computer Vision teams seeking leadership roles who can take their applications to the next level and on a global scale. Some of the basic specializaitons include, but are not limited to: Camera imaging geometryFeature detection and matchingImage classification and scene analysis In the wake of work-from-home policies, remote working, and the shifting landscape of working outside the office, technology careers are prime opportunities to both gain increased knowledge in your chosen field or begin your career path. If you’re ready to take the next step in your career, we may be able to help. Take a look at our current vacancies or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to learn more. For our West Coast Team, contact us at (415) 614 - 4999 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For our Mid-West and East Coast teams contact us at (212) 796-6070 or send an email to email@example.com.
19. March 2020
Last month we sat down with Kevin Tran, a Senior Data Scientist at Stanford University, to chat about Data Science trends, improvements in the industry, and his top tips for success in the market. As one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices of 2019 within Data & Analytics. his thoughts on the industry regularly garner hundreds of responses, with debates and discussions bubbling up in the comments from colleagues eager to offer their input. This online reputation has allowed him to make a name for himself, building out his own little corner of the internet with his expertise. But for Tran, it’s never been about popularity. “It’s not about the numbers,” he says without hesitation. “I don’t care about posting things just to see the number of likes go up.” His goal is always connection, to speak with others and learn from them while teaching from his own background. He’s got plenty of stories from his own experiences. For him, sharing is a powerful way to lead others down a path he himself is still discovering. When asked about the most important lesson he’s learned in the industry, he says it all boils down to staying open to new ideas. “You have to continue to learn, and you have to learn how to learn. If you stop learning, you’ll become obsolete pretty soon, particularly in Data Science. These technologies are evolving every day. Syntax changes, model frameworks change, and you have to constantly keep yourself updated.” He believes that one of the best ways to do that is through open discussion. His process is to share in order to help others. When he has a realisation, he wants to set it in front of others to pass along what he’s learned; he wants to see how others react to the same problem, if they agree or see a different angle. It’s vital to consider what you needed to know at that stage. Additionally, this exchange of ideas allows Tran to learn from how others tackle the same problems, as well as get a glimpse into other challenges he may have not yet encountered. “When I mentor people, I’m still learning, myself,” Tran confesses. “There’s so much out there to learn, you can’t know it all. Data Science is so broad." At the end of the day, it all comes down to helping each other and bringing humanity back to the forefront. In fact, this was his biggest advice for both how to improve the industry and how to succeed in it. It’s a point he comes back to with some regularity in his writing. “It doesn’t matter how smart you are, stay humble and respect everyone,” one post reads. “Everyone can teach you something you don’t know.” Treating people well, understanding their needs, and consciously working to see them as people instead of numbers or titles—this, Tran argues, is how you succeed in the business. To learn and grow, you must work with people, especially people with different skills and mindsets. Navigating your career is not all technical, even in the world of Data. “The thing that cannot be automated is having a heart,” he tells me sagely. Beyond this, Tran stresses the need for a solid foundation. The one thing you can’t afford to do is take shortcuts. You have to learn the practicalities and how to apply them, but to be strong in theory as well. Understanding what is happening underneath the code will keep you moving forward. He compares knowing the tools to learning math with a calculator. “If you take the calculator away, you still need to be able to do the work. You need the underlying skills too, so that when you’re in a situation without the calculator, you can still provide solutions.” By constantly striving to collaborate and improve, Tran believes the Data industry has the best chance of innovating successfully. If you’re looking for a new challenge in an innovative and collaborative environment, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more.
19. March 2020