Disruptive pureplay retailers have brought about an essential change to traditional business structures and processes. Well, ones that have watched and have quickly learned themselves.

Best practice retail businesses now put the customer and customer data at the heart of the business. Customer centric & data centric. Everyday processes and new initiatives begin and end with the customer. Informed business act quickly, learn again from the customer, adapt, and improve.

‘Retail Intelligence,’ as these departments are often called, are not new. They were of course, not always digitised, and they definitely were not at the heart of business. More often a peripheral department, that struggled to get budgets for customer research, and more times than not failed to find an enthusiastic internal audience.

Reports with valuable insights lying worthless on office shelves.

However, the new obsession with the customer, should come as no surprise to local shopkeepers. They always have been, and still are, working with the customer at their heart.

Retail Intelligence does not need to be digitised. It certainly does not always need to be commissioned. What is most important is proximity and intimacy with the customer. That is what local shopkeepers have in abundance.

Where distant digital retail intelligence aften fails is in its remoteness, reducing customers to consumers who shop only by habit, on trend, and with logic. We all know that rarely happens.

In contrast, shopkeepers elevate customers to individual people, with lives, personalities, preferences, desires and idiosyncrasies. Like data, shopkeepers know what each customer usually buys, but they also know why.

Predictive does not work with unpredictable. But whereas data will learn for next time, shopkeepers can react and engage in real time, make the sale, learn for tomorrow, and continuously grow their sizeable personal ‘Retail Intelligence!’

Nothing to stop shopkeepers doing additional research, surfing for market trends, benchmarking competitor and best practice assortments and promotions, or conducting their own customer questionnaires. But they should never lose site of their unique and intimate insight into every customer they serve.

Everyone needs to be smart with their ‘Retail Intelligence!’

It is my great pleasure to be the guest of Health Stores Ireland, at their “Putting Our Best Foot Forward” Trade & Partner Gathering, in Shannon on 29th January. Looking forwards to some lively and interesting discussions, as always.

In the meantime…

Intelligent ‘Retail Intelligence’ is featured in the new book – ‘Meaning in the Retail Madness – How to be an Essential Retailer’

If you’d like to read my book for many more retailer insights and best practice. And to here my thoughts on retail’s future, then that’s an excellent idea.

'Meaning in the Retail Madness: How to be an Essential Retailer' Out now. Available worldwide across amazon and popular online booksellers

I hope that the sections on how to flourish in the ‘The life and times of the Essential Retailer’ how to evolve ‘Agile Organisations’ and excel in ‘Astute Strategies’ may be a source of inspiration and guidance. You will also find 70 action plans and 90 retail best practice insights that may help you to assess your current weaknesses and opportunities.

Enjoy your read.