Blog Post

The Speed of Retail: Balancing Real-Time Actionability with Depth of Insight

joshua bayne
joshua bayne 03.22.2018

The retail industry is an ever-changing, dynamic space. From department stores, fast-fashion retailers, cosmetics and specialty goods, to consumer electronics, grocers, and e-retailers, each sector has its own unique set of challenges and obstacles.


Retailers need to stay ahead of the next big trend. They need to stay top-of-mind with their core consumer. Retailers need to battle the growth of conglomerates such as Amazon while also keeping an eye on independent startups. The challenge to stay ahead of the curve is more difficult than ever.


As a fan of the TV series Project Runway, I feel as though retailers’ current situation is similar to how Heidi Klum describes the fashion industry at the start of every show: “One day you're in. And the next day, you're out.” For big retailers, it may not be as instantaneous as that, but it is beginning to feel that way.


Marketing measurement programs help retailers:

  • understand their business performance drivers
  • expose areas of opportunities
  • optimize promotion and marketing investments
  • gain a deeper understanding of their customers


Marketers then can measure, implement and validate business strategies.


But given the fast pace of the industry, how do you balance an in-depth measurement program with quick and actionable insights?


For most retailers, capitalizing on a key season or maximizing key apertures is pivotal to meeting or exceeding financial projections. Consumers now have many avenues to purchase retail goods, and the majority of retailers fight to win them during same key periods: Back to School, Summer, Black Friday, Holidays, start of the year. That is why having your finger on the pulse of campaign performance and influence can mean the difference between matching last year’s comps or exceeding them. But what depth of insight is needed when, and at what frequency?


Unifying Real-Time with Comprehensive Deep Dive Measurement

Just as Unified MMM and MTA measurement provides one version of the truth by marrying high-level strategic insights of marketing mix modeling (MMM) and the tactical, granular insight of multi-touch attribution (MTA), a Unified Real-Time and Comprehensive Deep Dive Program solves this current need within retail.



This approach provides:

  • frequent updates (weekly, monthly) with quick turnaround times to course-correct campaign execution or quickly measure strategy changes in market


coupled with a

  • comprehensive review (quarterly, bi-annually) with granular, detailed insight down to a customer level.


The most successful programs execute their real-time updates weekly during their key seasons and execute a comprehensive deep dive 2-4x a year.


Overlaying the real-time updates with a comprehensive quarter or bi-annual view is key to both understanding quick insight and deep diving into tactical performance at a granular level.


Actionable, Real-Time Insights

Executing this unified program allows for quick, real time quantification and breakdown of the “whys”. The ability to understand what is driving the business up or down with the ability to course-correct the next month or next quarter. Without the real-time component, marketing measurement programs are left looking retroactively, many times making educated guesses based on comp sales alone, without the timeliness to quickly change strategy. Key, actionable, real-time insight that has been uncovered and course-corrected based on this Unified Real-Time Comprehensive Program include:

  • Quantification of what is driving your business more real-time: Retailer A was able to assess and quantify the impact that a recent competitive innovation had on their sales performance. This allowed for more accurate forecasts going forward.
  • Using MTA for quick in-market digital creative testing: Retailer B leveraged Real-Time MTA insights to test a new digital creative in market for a particular partner. Given the success of the creative, Retailer B rolled out similar creative across like partners and experienced a 25% increase in incremental response.
  • Quick assessment of promotional offers tests: Retailer C used Real-Time insight to measure a new promotional offer for new products during a key promotional window. Incrementality declined within a key customer segment with the new offer, and Retailer C was able to quickly switch back to their previous offer within that segment, driving $3MM in annual revenue that would have been lost.
  • Real-time campaign optimization: Retailer D executed a higher quality TV buy during their key back to school season, leveraging more expensive dayparts, copy lengths, and placements. In-market response increased marginally, while the execution was significantly more expensive, limiting sales potential. Retailer D was able to quickly change strategy leading up to the key holiday season to execute a more cost effective, efficient campaign. Holiday campaign ROI improved 30%.


How Retail Marketers Succeed

Retail marketers should not have to choose between valuable insights and the speed needed to respond to the market. A Unified Real-Time and Deep Dive Program as a part of a successful measurement and analytics practice can create the balance needed to succeed. And of course, as with most successful programs, the process starts with establishing a roadmap and building a foundation to drive scale and efficiency. Contact Analytic Partners to learn more.