Industry Insights

How Urban Commotion Is Impacting Retail & Ways Merchants Can Benefit From This

Share this post:

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.  Additionally, 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.


There are undoubtedly many complex dynamics that impact urban development, population growth and the direct effect this has on consumer spending. As a result, retailers are increasingly becoming impacted by the rapidly changing merchant environments that exist within urban landscapes. Fortunately, this creates tremendous opportunity for retailers … but only those that choose to understand the value of urban commotion and what it means for their unique business. To help, consider the below ways that urban uproar is impacting merchants and why this is beneficial to them.

Reason #1: Consumers expect a lot from merchants & fortunately, urban ones have a lot to offer

From local points of interest to nearby transportation options to non-competitive yet like-minded businesses and more, there is an abundance of activity and opportunity within urban environments. These various touchpoints all welcome actively spending consumers to their businesses and thus, present opportunity for all nearby merchants. As an urban retailer, this is a key aspect to consider – but more important, to understand. Everything that impacts urban environments has a direct role in business opportunities, and should be considered in how merchants evaluate their local consumer marketplace, the inventory they stock, their marketing efforts and more.

Reason #2: Speed & precision is critical in inventory planning efforts

No longer do retailers have the luxury of time when it comes to identifying what inventory they need for their stores. Trends change fast, consumer spending habits can alter unexpectedly and for some merchants, inventory can spoil – such as for grocers – faster than it has the chance to sell. Due to the variety of factors that influence inventory planning and sell through, it’s vital that merchants understand their current and future local area consumer details. As Colm O’Brien of IBM explains, retailers should “act with agility and differentiate from competition with truly personalized promotions, product mixes, more responsive supply chains, greater visibility into out of stock situations and much more.”

Reason #3: Hyper-local insights deliver real-time results

From weather to social media to community events and all other variables that influence local marketplaces, supply chain leaders benefit from understanding what is happening within their community at any given time. By capturing data details that understand these touchpoints, decision makers are better equipped to support their store planning and local consumer marketplace. Without this data, retailers are in the dark while their competitors may be seeing through the light. Incorporating all the pieces of the consumer puzzle into their operational strategies is a dynamic component for store success… but in order for this to happen, supply chain leaders must first understand the value of hyper-local insights for their business.

How technology adds value to urban retailers

With so many factors influencing urban landscapes and retailers, merchants must be proactive in utilizing these valuable offerings to their benefit. Through technology, retailers can answer pressing questions that they may not be able to otherwise, including:

  • How will community events impact in-store traffic flow?
  • What products are most in demand among consumers within the neighborhood?
  • How will weather impact store inventory and consumer spending?
  • What can be done to optimize supply chain of inventory?

Using IBM’s Metro Pulse, these questions and more can be answered through data collected from a variety of sources that then generate clusters of information from individual neighborhoods and other point-of-sale locations. These narrowed in data details can then provide a clearer view of community needs, preferences and behaviors of local consumers as well as what can benefit retailers in their future and immediate inventory management, employee logistics, marketing efforts and more. The main value of Metro Pulse, however, is that it helps to strengthen sales – something urban retailers can easily find value from.

Competition will always exist within urban landscapes, but with Metro Pulse, merchants can feel confident they are capturing the most details they can to help optimize their business. As Unilever’s VP of Information and Analytics Kjersten Moody explains, Metro Pulse allows “invisible data to become visible” and keeping this in mind, Metro Pulse can essentially be viewed as a retailer’s secret sales weapon. Having Metro Pulse incorporated into your supply chain strategy can not only ease your understanding of your local marketplace, but also deliver real-time results to help you make more accurate decisions for your business that will ultimately help lead to increased store success.

 Find out more about IBM’s Metro Pulse.

Founder and Publisher of

More stories

Key takeaways for retailers from IBM’s Global C-suite Study

If you asked an executive a few years ago to name the source of disruption in her industry, she’d likely point to a digitally-savvy newcomer. But in 2018, that’s no longer the case. “As innovative incumbents have become smarter about competing in a disruptive digital age, executives now say they represent more of a competitive […]

Continue reading

Combining Internal and External Data for Insights, Forecasting and Visualisation

Retailers and consumer products companies have done a lot of work to apply data science to key challenges around demand forecasting, store replenishment, and optimisation of product assortment. Many have used historical sales and product data to identify patterns and glean insights. Some have used proprietary software products. Others have created data lakes and performed […]

Continue reading

How to Bridge the Supply Chain Innovation Gap

Retail and consumer products companies continue to innovate in the area of customer engagement. It’s clear they believe if they don’t do this they’ll be left behind, or possibly even disrupted out of business altogether. At the same time, we continue to see significant investment in operations, including robotics and automation in distribution centres. But […]

Continue reading