Business Intelligence Solutions for the Retail Industry

Written by Mitchell Dubin

Traditionally,repparttar retail industry has lagged behind other industries in adopting new technologies, and this holds true in its acceptance of BI technology. Some industries, such as financial services, have become very sophisticated in using BI software for financial reporting and consolidation, customer intelligence, regulatory compliance, and risk management. However, retailers are quickly catching up and beginning to recognizerepparttar 133356 many areas of BI that can be applied specifically to their businesses.

The competitive game is changing for retail. Asrepparttar 133357 industry continues to consolidate, retailers have begun to realize that using technology to better understand customer buying behavior, to drive sales and profitability, and to reduce operational costs is a necessity for long-term survival.

Retailers are now paying significant attention to BI software, specifically inrepparttar 133358 areas of merchandise intelligence (including merchandise planning, assortment, size, space, price, promotion, and markdown optimization), customer intelligence (including marketing automation, marketing optimization, and market basket analysis), operational intelligence (including IT portfolio management, labor optimization, and real estate site selection), and competitive intelligence. There are many factors that have led retailers to adopt BI software: increased competition,repparttar 133359 need to squeeze more profitability out of less space, prevalent credit card usage,repparttar 133360 Internet's role as an alternative sales channel,repparttar 133361 popularity of loyalty cards, and soon, RFID (radio frequency identification). These milestones have created a wealth of data that retailers are now beginning to appreciate and use.

Within individual companies, we viewrepparttar 133362 history of BI in retail through a method that we devised to describerepparttar 133363 status of any company's evolution toward becoming an intelligent enterprise. We believe that organizations pass through five fundamental stages as they advance in their use of BI as a competitive differentiator:

Operate -- At this most basic level arerepparttar 133364 companies rife with information mavericks:repparttar 133365 guys in basement offices hammering away on desktop spreadsheets. If they go,repparttar 133366 knowledge goes with them. There are no processes, and each request becomes an ad hoc data rebuild, resulting in multiple versions ofrepparttar 133367 truth, withrepparttar 133368 likelihood of a different answer to any one question every time it is asked. Consolidate -- At this stage, a company has pulled together its data atrepparttar 133369 departmental level. Here, a question getsrepparttar 133370 same answer every time, at least withinrepparttar 133371 department. However, departmental interests and interdepartmental competition can skewrepparttar 133372 integrity ofrepparttar 133373 output and result in multiple versions ofrepparttar 133374 truth. Integrate -- At this point inrepparttar 133375 evolution, a company has adopted enterprise-wide data and bases its decisions on this more complete information. This company is beginning to have a true awareness of additional opportunities forrepparttar 133376 use of BI to improve processes and profits. Optimize -- At this stage,repparttar 133377 company's knowledge workers are very focused on incremental process improvements and refiningrepparttar 133378 value-creation process. Everyone understands and uses analysis, trending, pattern analysis, and predictive results to increase efficiency and effectiveness. The extended value chain becomes increasingly critical torepparttar 133379 organization, includingrepparttar 133380 customers, suppliers, and partners who constitute intercompany communities. Innovate -- This level represents a major, quantum break withrepparttar 133381 past. It exploitsrepparttar 133382 understanding ofrepparttar 133383 value-creation process acquired inrepparttar 133384 optimize stage and replicates that efficiency with new products in new markets. Companies operating at this level understand what they do well and apply this expertise to new areas of opportunity, thus multiplyingrepparttar 133385 number of revenue streams flowing intorepparttar 133386 enterprise. Armed with information and business process knowledge, organizations approachingrepparttar 133387 innovate level will introduce truly innovative products and services that reflect their unique understanding ofrepparttar 133388 market, their internal strengths and weaknesses, and an unfailing flow of ideas from continuously engaged employees. We are finding that most large retailers have reached or are approachingrepparttar 133389 integrate stage, with many making great strides towardrepparttar 133390 optimize and innovate levels. There is an enormous opportunity forrepparttar 133391 evolution to continue -- within every retail organization.

The Presence of BI inrepparttar 133392 Retail IT Infrastructure

Inrepparttar 133393 typical retail IT infrastructure, there are two fundamental categories of systems: transactional/operational systems, such as POS and purchase order management systems; and analytic/BI systems.

Operational and transactional systems such as merchandise management, ERP (enterprise resource planning), and POS, are very good at what they do -- organizing huge amounts of operational data and transactions. These systems can tell retailers what has happened in their business and what their customers have done -- last week, last month, and last year.

It's critical, however, for retailers to understand what will happen: whatrepparttar 133394 demand will be for a select assortment of merchandise, what impact an incremental price change will have on demand, which floor plan will sell more designer shoes, which customers will respond to a direct mail or catalog offer.

Real value comes from systems that go beyondrepparttar 133395 limitations of operational software alone, systems that can take operational data and create enterprise intelligence and predictive insights.

These BI systems must combine data management (consolidating, organizing, and cleansing huge amounts of disparate data from varying systems and platforms) with predictive analytics (data mining, forecasting, optimization). When they do, retailers can make sense of customer, product, supplier, and operational data and draw insights that will help them run their businesses better and more profitably.

Leading retailers aroundrepparttar 133396 globe -- like Wal-Mart, Foot Locker, Staples, Williams-Sonoma, and and many others -- have begun using BI and analytics to make an array of strategic decisions. These include where to place retail outlets, how many of each size or color of an item to put in each store, and when and how much to discount. The effects of these decisions can save or generate millions of dollars for retailers.

Mercerization Process Produces Quality Fabrics

Written by Brannon Smith

If you have ever purchased a 100% cotton shirt before you know there are often problems associated with this fabric. The colors fade and become dull,repparttar fabric shrinks, and after a few times of wearing and washing you can see millions of little fuzzies overrepparttar 133355 surface of your shirts. The process of Mercerization makes all these little annoyances go away.

Single Mercerization is a process in whichrepparttar 133356 yarn used to make a shirt is run throughrepparttar 133357 middle of an open flame at a very high speed. It passes through so quickly thatrepparttar 133358 yarn itself doesn't burn butrepparttar 133359 millions of fuzzies and slubs onrepparttar 133360 yarn are eliminated instantly. This makesrepparttar 133361 yarn stronger. Since there is no fuzz onrepparttar 133362 yarn, it is held together better and can no longer unravel by itself. The yarn is also less prone to shrinking becauserepparttar 133363 mercerization process literally pre-shrinksrepparttar 133364 fabric. Mercerization also cleansrepparttar 133365 yarn and gives it a strong affinity for dye. While normal cotton yarn has no clarity or depth to it's color, Mercerized yarn acceptsrepparttar 133366 dye much better andrepparttar 133367 colors come out deeper, sharper and have a very clean look. The fabric now looks and feels ten times better. Single Mercerization is a huge step up fromrepparttar 133368 quality of regular cotton shirts but Double Mercerization takes it even a step further.

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