NRF 2024 Reflections

Summary

NRF has been one of the busiest this past week in Javits Center in New York City, with retailers filling the expo show floor for three days in a row, browsing vendors’ latest offerings, networking and sharing experiences and solutions to retail industry’s latest challenges. Blue Sky’s team presented our latest offerings on analytics as a service, retail price optimization as a service and our retail planning cloud solutions. Having engaged with many retail organizations at the show, there is a clear shift in retailers’ expectations towards analytics as a service providers that was notable at the event. Retailers are far more interested in true analytics as a service, or results as a service type offerings than in the past.

Blue Sky GRS's booth at NRF 2024

Team members Zoltan Juhasz and Oliver Kiss at the Javits Center during NRF Big Show, 2024

Background

For the last 5 years our teams have been attending and exhibiting at National Retail Federation’s annual retail expo at the Javits Center in New York City, held in January. This event not only gives us the opportunity to connect with retailers and communicate our latest service offerings and solutions, but also to engage with the retail industry ecosystem and learn about current challenges, focus areas and solutions applied by businesses.

Awakening demand

Analytics as a service is something that has been around for years. And similarly to SAAS, has taken some time for the industry to warm up to as a concept. As SaaS used to be termed as software running on “just someone else’s computer”, analytics as a service has also been seen initially as a source of risk, with analytics functions being provided by “someone else’s scientists”.

A picture of the crowd at NRF 2024

Crowds of retailer representatives queuing up for badge printing on opening day of the show.

During the last five years, the concept of analytics as a service has also shifted from a services provider standpoint: many traditional consulting firms struggled to provide such services because they lacked the solution assets needed to run complex analytical calculations and simulations, while solution vendors lacked the consulting capacity and preferred to stick to the infinite upside multiplier of selling software solutions in a partner cloud.

Today retailers’ understanding of analytics as a service has matured, now everyone understands this is a service where retailers provide data input and get actionable results and insights back, such as future demand forecast figures or retail price recommendations. Yet many analytics as a service providers do not actually do this, they still either sell traditional cloud solutions or consulting services.

 

Retailers today understand that analytics is a field that requires a lot of experience both from retail business side and from data science side (not to mention technology). Retailers understand they may have no issues covering the former requirement with teams in house, but also understand that they will struggle with the latter requirement. Even with the most advanced demand forecasting solution, there will come a time when the system needs user input to decide what option to take for refining a poor forecast. This is where retailers struggle to engage with the solution meaningfully. Good analytics as a service providers cover this gap at scale.

About Blue Sky

Blue Sky has been created by a veteran team of retail consultants six years ago to fill a growing need for true analytics as a service for retailers globally.

Blue Sky's logo that was presented at NRF this year

The challenge

Traditional software solutions, including cloud and SaaS solutions, require lengthy procurement processes when selecting expensive implementation and integration services that take months to select from publishing RFPs, selecting a winner then engaging to perform the implementation, train the user group and manage change. In all of the traditional solution selection and implementation efforts the biggest cost is time to complete. While retailers understand what capabilities they need to bring into the business, it takes many months to complete that process, all along which time the business is running without these much-needed capabilities and insights. Not to mention having to maintain a user team to operate complex analytics solutions in house.

Our solution

Our solution cuts through all these traditional costs both in terms of money and time and brings cutting edge professional analytics capabilities to any retailer in a fraction of the time and cost. Our services are quick to initiate, typically within 3-4 weeks, and are based on a subscription service requiring no large capital expenditures, nor lengthy commitment periods. With a weekly delivery cadence our analytics results are continuously improved over time both in accuracy and speed, keeping our customers ahead of changes impacting their business in the future.

 

an infographic detailing how retailers attending NRF 2024 can benefit from Data Analytics

Conclusion

Retailers today understand that high quality analytics is a must have in order to succeed against tough competition and an ever evolving consumer expectation. Acquiring high quality, fast and cost effective analytics capabilities no longer requires high capital expenditures and heavy investment of time. It can be subscribed to as decision making insight in the form of an analytics data source, enriching retailer intelligence with high value, actionable insights quickly and cost effectively.

Contact our team to learn how we can help you access top analytics insights for your organization.

 

 

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