Speaking at BRC Insight Conference

change reality

In a time of transformational change, an improving economy, and dynamic technical advances retailers are facing a number of significant challenges as well as opportunities. Leveraging customer insight to build a competitive advantage is now a necessity but often the question remains of how to turn data into actionable insight

I have just spent a day BRC Insight 2016 conference organised by British Retail Consortium and attended by key insight professionals as a speaker and panellist.

I opened Keynote Presentation about how using data is not technically difficult the challenge is around building data literacy. People, Process and culture not the technical implementation.  Finding a sweet spot that combines delivery of commercial agenda, by building relevant customer propositions through technical use of data is the utopia that can be achieved. Four uses of data emerge and I then illustrated the story through case studies of organisations who have made the change in People and Culture and become data driven organisations: Disney, Sainsbury’s, Walmart, Starbucks, 7-11 and Strava amongst others. Check-out case studies on http://www.andrewmann.me

sweet spot

Martin Newman CEO PRACTICOLOGY made a Chairman’s address to set the scene for the day. With over 30 years’ experience in Omni channel retailing, and a friendship with Tim Berners-Lee, Martin laid out how Digital and Data skills should not be in silos in organisations, and DIGITAL/Data should be distributed as a core skill around the organisation which needs to structure around the customer. Bring back good old fashioned personalisation like the Walton’s, where they knew you well. Burberry have started to do in-store personalisation for customers through store colleagues, and assign dedicated staff members to every on-line order.   The customer is now 100% in control of when and from where they buy and retailers need to recognise that in their behaviour.

waltons shopkeep Ike Godsey

Tom Feldmann CEO Brand Alley talked how customers have become fickler and retailers have to be more relevant to them and collect data from every touch point. Brand Alley is a pure play on-line membership retailer with 2m upmarket members. They sell end of season lines for luxury brands and recruits new users for those brands (check them out on www.brandalley.com)


Over Coffee the discussion with Richard Baker (chairman of Whitbread and DFS) who I worked with at Sainsbury’s  reinforced how retailers need to use data to improve increased humanisation taking personalisation of the experience back to a human interaction either on digital or face to face. Very relevant for Costa and Premier Inn amongst others.

richard baker


Yossi Erdman from ao.com talked through how they have kept very closely focused on the commercial imperatives in UK’s largest digital white goods retailer, and developed a customer proposition that is more than just price, making white goods products sound interesting, and bringing the service they provide to life.  Good examples of listening to the customer and engaging colleagues in a positive way. Focus on real people , the customers of ao.com and let them tell their own stories. Simple yet very effective.

ao.com 2

John Bovil IT and Ecommerce Director from Monsoon Accessorize talked through the challenges they face joining the dots for members and transitioning from a multichannel retailer to a connected enterprise.  IoT will create so much data that organisations will start to creak and break in the new connected world and they are moving towards the utopia of data & analytics available any-time, anywhere for colleagues through the eyes of the customer.

A common theme emerged across all the presenters and delegates around the challenge in making Process and People changes to change the Culture in an organisation to be more customer focused. Increased listening at pace, together with an increased level of personalisation will drive more customer centric colleagues and organisations.

Author: Andrew Mann

Managing Partner at NorthBailey. Having had senior marketing & insight roles at Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Coop and M&S, I'm now using my experience & network to solve strategic marketing problems for NorthBailey clients

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