Merchandising & Supply Chain

Hyper-Local Personalization Becomes a Reality

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The Need for Personalization & Localization

The need to be relevant to consumers through personalization and localization has never been more critical, especially as city populations continue to grow and expand. Today, 54 percent of the world’s population lives in urban environments. In 1950, that number was 30 percent. By 2050, it will reach 70 percent.1

Every city is different, with its own highly-localized flow of people, places and events that shape consumer behavior and demand. Amidst all of this commotion, how do you uncover the opportunities that are hidden within the unique dynamics of an urban environment?

This is especially critical given consumers elevated shopping expectations, with most retailers struggling to keep up with the newly established status quo. In fact, the IBM 2016 Customer Experience Index Study highlighted how retailers are notably lacking in regards to personalization i.e. delivering relevant offers, products and services to customers when they want them, where they want them and how they want them.

Unlocking Hyper-local Insights

The solution is simpler than you might think. If you know where to look and how to listen, the city will tell you the answers.

The data and signals are everywhere:

  • Social Media
  • Weather
  • News
  • Points of Interest
  • Traffic
  • Commerce
  • People
  • Location

If this data can be captured and transformed into actionable insights, the result will be an unparalleled understanding of these ever-changing urban environments. The result allows retailers and consumer products companies to act with agility and differentiate from competition with truly personalized offers, assortments, more responsive supply chains, targeted services and much more.

IBM® Metro Pulse Powered by Watson is a cloud-based service that applies cognitive computing to hyper-localized data sets to harness the pulse of a neighborhood at unprecedented levels of speed and precision. Using Watson APIs such as Personality Insight, Watson Explorer and Tone Analyzer, the solution delivers a heightened understanding of a city’s current and future dynamics.

Imagine if you had the technology to answer questions such as:

  • What is the best location in this area for a new storefront?
  • How can I optimize distribution for this city?
  • What affect will weather have on local store assortments?
  • How will a parade or concert increase ice cream sales?
  • Which products do customers in this neighborhood buy most?

IBM Metro Pulse makes answering these types of questions a simple, intuitive process. The solution collects data from a variety of sources and creates cluster models for individual neighborhoods and other points-of-sale. This generates a holistic view of the needs, preferences and behaviors of consumers in a specific area and provides detailed, actionable recommendations through a user-friendly cloud interface. These insights can help identify emerging opportunities at a granular level and maximize sales.

IBM Metro Pulse in Action

For example, a retailer used a combination of its own data along with external data to analyze store mix, sales promotions and out of stock alerts on a neighborhood level, revealing significant opportunities for maximizing profits. The solution generated automatic alerts for store managers so that they could react to in-the-moment opportunities and events that would drive sales on specific products.

For Unilever, Metro Pulse is, in the words of the company’s CIO Kjersten Moody, all about “the invisible data becoming visible.” Unilever utilized Metro Pulse to define “the perfect city” — a city which converts every moment of opportunity into business value. Metro Pulse allowed Unilever to blend internal and external data to get a view of this “perfect city” then fill any opportunity gaps to maximize opportunity and revenue.

This is just a small look into how this solution can elevate your retail or consumer products operation. To differentiate from your competition by meeting consumer expectations in regards to personalization, I’d highly recommend IBM Metro Pulse.

For further information on IBM Metro Pulse, please visit the solution landing page and this short, informative infographic.


1Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2015). “World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision, Highlights.”(ST/ESA/SER.A/366)

Director of Offerings and Solutions, IBM Global Consumer Industry

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