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5 Ways Macy’s is Harnessing Data and Analytics

This article is originally from RIS News.

Macy’s outperformed sales expectations across all three brands in its first quarter —  Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury  —  and revealed how the retailer has been benefiting from its investments in data and analytics.

Macy’s invested $99 million in the quarter and is profiting from more efficient use of capital as a digitally-led, omnichannel retailer.

“This efficiency is allowing us to continue to keep capital spending below pre-COVID levels for the foreseeable future, with our priorities being investments in the digital channel, in data and analytics technology infrastructure, and in stores to leverage them for an efficient supply chain experience,” CFO Adrian Mitchell said on the company earnings call.

“Our investments are really heavily focused on digital, supply chain, technology initiatives, including a lot of predictive analytics across our operation from inventory allocation to demand forecasting to promotional optimization and personalization,” he also noted in the call.

Macy’s reported a profit of $103 million in Q1 2021, compared with a loss of $3.6 billion in the year-ago period. Comparable sales rose 62.5% from the year-ago period. Digital sales grew 34% over Q1 2020 and 32% over Q1 2019. Digital sales were $1.7 billion accounting for 37% of total sales, up from 24% in 2019.

“Critical to our Polaris strategy is how we enable our transformation by accelerating the pace of change through a modernized technology platform and revamped data and analytics capabilities in our performance-driven operating model,” said CEO Jeff Gennette. “While data informs everything we do, we’re putting particular emphasis on advancing our data led initiatives in such areas as merchandizing, pricing, allocation and personalization as we see these as areas of competitive differentiation.”

Here we look at how Macy’s is using data and analytics to positively impact its business.

Data Sharing

Macy’s is working very closely with key vendors and is being “much more fluid about data sharing than ever,” and ensuring that, when looking at respective assets put against the shared customer, it asks, “how best are we spending it together to make sure that we’re reaching the right customers, with the right products  —   and that we have joint profitability, visibility to that,” said Gennette.

The Macy’s Media Network is one example of this. “I think that’s just a case point of how we’re working with our vendors, and really using just the power of our website to expand their brands to new customers in mutually beneficial ways,” he said.

Predictive Analytics

Macy’s has been leveraging predictive analytics, whether it be inventory allocation with demand forecasting, promotional efforts or personalization efforts, said Mitchell. He noted the retailer is seeing really early signs of dressier power categories beginning to return, whether it be back to school or back to work.

Pricing and Promotions

Through Macy’s pricing science and reduced promotions, the retailer is driving stronger regular price sell-throughs and higher merchandise margins, said Gennette. Macy’s continues to update its supply chain infrastructure and network, while leveraging improved data analytics capabilities in its fulfillment strategies.

“We’re seeing a payoff from the investments we’ve made in our pricing strategies with the enhanced use of data and analytics,” said Mitchell. “These include improving and expanding location level pricing and strategically shifting our markdown cadence.”

He noted location level pricing is exceeding the company’s performance expectations and Macy’s will be live and at scale in more than 500 departments by the end of Q2 compared to the handful of departments it was piloting in Q4.

“Our teams are embracing the advanced analytics that are powering our decisions,” he said. “Through these analytics, we have already successfully executed several meaningful improvements to our markdown algorithms this year and we have several more planned for the second quarter. We’re accruing benefits from this in real time. When we make incremental improvements in the algorithms, we realize immediate sales and margin benefits.”

Inventory Allocation

In the first quarter, approximately 22% of Macy’s digital sales were fulfilled in its stores.

The retailer is acutely focused on improving its inventory allocation, while using data and analytics to better place inventory at stores and distribution centers, as well as across its markets. Macy’s expects to become more efficient as its allocation work continues.

A new CIO

Markdown and promotion optimization contributed meaningfully to Macy’s strong AUR and margin performance in the first quarter, Gennette noted, and to support these efforts Laura Miller was appointed Macy’s new Chief Information Officer earlier this year.

“Laura brings strong experience driving technology transformation in consumer focused businesses and is bringing a customer focused lens to all of our technology investment decisions,” said Gennette. “She is continuing our pre-pandemic efforts to modernize our technology foundations, and boost our ability to react to customer and market shifts, regardless of channel.

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