Accelytics CEO, Ash Jain, and Retail Expert, Jared Dolich, have a short conversation discussing the state of retail planning, processes and maturity of hypergrowth grocers and retailers, as well as discussing Anaplan and why it's recommended for retailers.
Ash Jain: Let's talk about hypergrowth grocers that are self-aware that we're still living in just a very manual world. Processes are not as sophisticated, broken, disconnected, and they probably don't have any tool. What would be your just initial recommendation? Where do they need to start? What should be their starting point?
Jared Dolich: What would a Hypergrowth Grocer really be focused on? I think the things that come to my mind is to know your customer. If I really summed it up to one piece of advice, it would be to do everything you possibly can to know your customer.
And I think you really only have to look as far as what the big grocers are doing. Especially with their loyalty programs and how they keep track of the transactions that each of their customers are making. And then leveraging that. I could walk into a grocery store like across the street here. And once I flash my loyalty card, they know everything I've done. So out of the register, right out of the POS. I can instantly give you 30% off on that item. And if you come back next week in the next 7 days I'll give you 2 for 1 on this, which is something I know you like to buy.
If I really summed it up to one piece of advice, it would be to do everything you possibly can to know your customer.
So just getting to know your customer, whether that's an automated teller or actual human being. All of those things are important, of course. But at the end of the day loyalty is the key right now. Is to get your customers to show up, keep coming back and feel like they're going to have a pleasant experience. And that's what I was kind of describing a little bit earlier with the 4 trends, which is really customers really want to see that experience be seamless, simple, easy, and that they are appreciated as a customer. That's what's expected now, whether we want it or not, that's kind of it.
Ash Jain: Tactically speaking, from a planning perspective, we live in the world of analytics and planning. As they're planning and trying to get their forecast more accurate, whether from the finance perspective or there from an inventory perspective, what should they be thinking from that vantage point?
Jared Dolich: So tactically, what grocers should be thinking of, especially the smaller Hypergrowth Grocers, is getting themselves into a technology solution that has a very attractive total cost of ownership. One that will meet the four trends.
I'm biased, of course, because I believe very strongly in a particular solution, which I think is Anaplan. It has a very attractive total cost of ownership, it's in the Cloud and you do not need a bunch of servers that have to be maintained on premise. It's all in the Cloud, so you can let somebody else take care of the technology maintenance. You never have to worry about upgrades. I'm speaking directly to the IT department for grocery. You don't have to worry about those upgrades and hiring expensive consultants to upgrade your software, or even have to listen to the message from your software vendor to say, "I'm sorry, but we no longer support your version anymore." When that happens, you have to upgrade, and it will cost you 6 or 7 figures to do it. Put all that away, throw all of that away. You don't need to worry about that anymore.
Cloud computing is the way to go. And one vendor, one particular planning platform that was first to market with this idea, was Anaplan. They have a gigantic installation base. And the reason why is that this is what retailers have been wanting for a very, very long time, which is how in the world do I connect all of these different planning processes that I've got and not have to go buy a separate point solution for every single one of them. I can do it all in the same planning platform, which is Anaplan.
This technology allows grocers to focus on really getting to know their customer and shift the burden away from their IT department.
So I guess the shorter answer, I should say, to your question Ash, is to think about how are you going to enable these processes for you to get closer to your customer? And the best way to do it is to not have to worry about technology. It should be focused on learning who your customers are, but your time has to be freed up to do that. You can't be going and grabbing machine data, putting it into a spreadsheet and figuring out how to integrate it with your point solution. It's easier to have it in the Cloud. And that's why Anaplan is a very attractive option. I like it as a solution for any grocer, whether it's Hypergrowth or, a well-established one as well.
This technology allows grocers to focus on really getting to know their customer and shift the burden away from their IT department. You don't have to worry about figuring out how to cleanse this data, to get it to the right environment, make sure all of these solutions are working correctly, and then limit the functionality down so that they can actually accomplish those tasks.
With Anaplan, it's like, no, I let somebody else do that. They handle it. All I do is I focus on what are the processes I need to enable? I enable them and then do them. I don't have to not worry about all this data and moving all this stuff around. Planners can focus on looking for trends and looking for how to get closer to the customer. There are other technologies that are up and coming as well. They're kind of chasing Anaplan's tail. But for retail, especially with grocery, Anaplan, is where I would point them, honestly.
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