Crate and Barrel has tapped enterprise software firm MicroStrategy for a new platform to support its analytics and mobility applications, starting with its store operations, finance, and planning and allocation departments, with an eye toward improving business processes and eventually the customer shopping experience.
The MicroStrategy 10 platform offers real-time access to data mining, business intelligence reports created on-demand and other capabilities to executives, merchants, analysts and store managers in 170 Crate and Barrel stores throughout the U.S.
“We’re getting MicroStrategy 10 in the hands of our store and field managers via tablet apps, so store associates have inventory and sales data precisely when customers need it," Crate and Barrel COO Mike Relich said in a statement.
The press release does not mention what platform Crate and Barrel is switching off to turn on MicroStrategy 10, but it sounds like the retailer previously may have been using tools that did not allow its data to influence its organizational moves quickly enough. Even if that is not exactly the case, MicroStrategy 10's ability to give a number of people in the Crate and Barrel organization useful insights at their fingertips in real time and in their preferred reporting format was enough reason to upgrade.
But that's all just the business and operational reasoning to adopt a new platform. Any firm in retail that is making greater use of analytics tools is doing so above all for customer-facing benefits. As retailers try to embrace personalization, analytics tools are key to allowing them to support more personalized customer experiences. One particular analytics insight, passed at the right time from a store manager to an employee on the floor, could mean the difference between a customer who walks away unsatisfied and a customer who has a useful interaction with that employee and ends up making a purchase.
This is not Crate and Barrel's very first attempt at putting better technology more quickly into the hands of people who can make the most of it. The retailer last fall started a pilot program in what of its stores that put CloudTags Mobile Tote tablets in the hands of store employees to improve the customer experience and speed checkouts. Crate and Barrel has come around not only to the idea that data insights can make a difference, but that the data itself is not enough if it doesn't quickly and actively get put to use.