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Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Founder and Publisher of Retail Minded, the Co-Founder of the Independent Retailer Conference and a regular contributor to various publications. In addition, Reyhle is the author of the book, “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business” from McGraw-Hill and has been the spokesperson for Small Business Saturday from American Express since 2014. Follow Reyhle on Twitter at @RetailMinded.
The heartbeat of a neighborhood can be defined by many things. From the diversity of its residents to the variety of small shops that make up their local main streets to the impact of corporate offices residing within the community and more, it’s clear that the variety that exists within neighborhoods worldwide is what truly makes neighborhoods everywhere one of a kind. Keeping this in mind, how can merchants within busy communities narrow in on what makes sense for their inventory assortment, local customers and even out-of-town visitors within their surrounding community? With so much to consider, it’s safe to say that the human touch alone can’t influence the fast pace of cities and commerce.
Influencers of cities & commerce
I’ve lived in Chicago, Boston, New York City and now Denver – all of which have been amazing experiences with their own, unique commerce environments. In addition, I travel often for work and leisure alike and get to discover cities such as Las Vegas, Rochester, Scottsdale, LA and more regularly – each of which offer one-of-a-kind merchant experiences that can’t be mimicked anywhere else. When you factor in all the outside influences that impact cities and the retailers within them, it’s understandable that merchant-buying decisions within busy cities such as these have a lot on their to-do-lists. Among the elements to consider that impact urban retailers, their product assortment and supply chain efforts include the following:
- Local community events
- Nearby public transportation
- Neighborhood school calendars & school activities
- Local business initiatives and calendar of events
- Nationwide holidays
- Past inventory sell-thru
- Trends in current marketplace
- Weather & more
Using data that narrows in on these aspects – alongside all core, time-sensitive details collected within the immediate community of a business decision makers can more clearly identify opportunities for their brands. This can happen thanks to the influential data collected via Metro Pulse, which is powered by IBM’s Watson. Imagine that a Boston apparel retailer, for example, identifies that they need more lightweight sweaters in response to a surprisingly warmer winter than expected, while a Denver-based apparel retailer needs to increase their orders of heavier sweaters due to an unexpectedly cold winter. By applying hyper-local, city data collection features combined with cognitive computing, Metro Pulse reveals block-by-block insight that allows merchants to make stronger, more accurate decisions for their stores – especially supply chain efforts that are impacted by weather, local events, consumer behavior and more. Leveraging this insight gathered, businesses can strengthen not only their immediate and future buying decisions, but also their employee management, marketing efforts and overall store operations.
What impacts Metro Pulse
Having moved to Denver just a few years ago, I lean on online review sources for insight on where to eat, shop and discover places I may never know about otherwise. Like me, millions of others lean on online resources to help them not only discover new places but also share their own insight. These details also help bring Metro Pulse to life by capturing, reviewing and ultimately allowing it to hear and analyze what is happening within an immediate community. Combined with factors that include real-time analysis of weather, local events, public transportation and other neighboring factors that influence customer spending online review sources Metro Pulse is able to deliver unstructured data that helps explain customer journeys, forecast inventory needs and resolve spoiler challenges that many merchants – such as convenience stores or grocers – struggle with. This data truly becomes the pulse of a business, helping it to stay relevant and prosperous despite a constantly changing consumer marketplace – particularly for commerce-driven businesses that exist within urban environments.
Prepare now for what will be later
With both local and out-of-town customers impacting urban environments in combination with weather, local events, marketplace trends and more, it’s important for merchants to prepare now for what they will need later. The catch? Later isn’t years, months or even weeks away. Later begins tomorrow, so it’s important to prepare today.
Using Metro Pulse, retailers can leverage real-time data based on their unique, local marketplace via a cloud-based solution to capture insights, opportunities and ultimately sales. Connecting the variety of dots that exist within these marketplaces, merchants can more accurately make supply chain decisions that will translate to stronger in store and online/e-commerce success – helping to keep the heartbeat of these businesses not just alive, but thriving.
Find out more about IBM’s Metro Pulse.