Building tomorrow together: Perspectives on the retail industry


Outthinking the future: Partnerships to boost your business in retail, consumer products and agribusiness


Introduce yourself

My name is Nathaniel Schooler and I’m an independent marketing consultant, but prior to that I grew up in the drinks industry and I actually used to work in premium wine merchants when I was, when I was, learning how to deal with people on a one-to-one basis, and now I help businesses with their go-to-market strategies.


What are the main changes in recent years?

You’ve obviously got the personalisation for the retail customers – customers who are visiting you in store, they’re visiting your website, and it’s getting that right, but you’ve also got the supply chain side of things. And supply chain is very important because you don’t want to be out of stock. If you’re out of stock and you’ve got your marketing right, then you’re going to be creating back orders, you’re also going to cost yourself money with supply chain, because the cost of your raw materials may go up and this kind of thing.

We’re going back now to a more of an old-school shopping experience. So, much like when you used to go to the green grocers, you would actually walk into the shop and you would be greeted by the owner of the store or one of, one of the employees. And they would actually know your name, they would know what you buy on a regular basis and then they would make recommendations based upon what you generally like, because they know your likes and dislikes.

And actually, nowadays, these, these personalisation’s are becoming better in many cases. Although, I say that, we have some problems when actually it comes to over-personalisation and actually almost, well quite, intrusive personalisation.

And that’s why you actually need to take your time to come up with a proper plan and actually use the right technology, because you can, you can create awful, awful damage to the brand, the long-term brand value of business can be damaged quite a lot actually, because customers will, if you over-personalise; so for example, a friend of mine Donna, she actually booked a holiday, okay, and she booked this holiday, and within about say 5 minutes of booking the holiday and making the payment, she actually had an email come through to her email box, and it said, here’s a voucher for some sun tan lotion for your up and coming trip to Venice. Okay, so she was, she was quite freaked out by that, it upset her a lot, and that was actually just because she did not untick a box that said partners, partner communications are acceptable.

So we all need to be very careful. Yes, there are metrics that were trying to achieve; we’re trying to achieve revenue targets because our boss is breathing down our neck, however, if we take those too far we can damage the value of the business.


What’s your view on supply chains?

Keeping the cost down and actually reducing food wastage is a huge, huge thing, and also don’t forget, different times of the year, buying raw materials to actually go into certain items that you’re manufacturing are going to be cheaper. So, if you can, if you can actually get your supply chain nailed down and actually do your forecasting right, then you’re going to predict your revenue targets. But on top of that, you’ve actually got the most important thing, which, which I don’t think anyone else apart from IBM is doing, is actually integrating the weather data into the analytical processes that they have.


Why partner with IBM?

If some of your clients are retailers, it’s important that you actually partner with IBM because they’re going to help you to grow your business safely, without over-personalising, under-personalising, and actually controlling your supply chain, which is key. IBM are very, very approachable, they deal with you on a one-to-one basis, they’re very personal, and it doesn’t matter what size of business that you have, you could have a start-up business or you could be, you could be a really established business. And whatever solutions you have or don’t have, they will actually find a piece of technology or lots of different pieces of technology that will fit in and actually add to the value that you’re delivering to your retail customers.


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