December 21, 2012, 2:17 PM

A big data software suite helps retailers make rapid decisions

Aldata’s Omni-Shopper suite covers merchandising, fulfillment, engagement and marketing.

Amy Dusto

Associate Editor

Lead Photo

Large retailers collect vast amounts of data about their customers, through their purchases, online activity, responses to e-mails and other interactions. To help retailers store, manage and extract useful insights from all of that data in one system—and fast—Aldata has developed a new software suite designed to help retailers offer the right products to the right customers at the right time, says Allan Davies, chief marketing officer of Aldata, a Finnish company that provides software for retailers and distributors.

The Aldata Omni-Shopper Suite is a set of Internet-hosted modules that help retailers use data gathered from consumer-facing web sites, mobile apps and store cash registers, and back-end operations systems, like inventory management, to make decisions about how to engage and serve online and in-store shoppers, Aldata says. A retailer could use the system to consider consumer demand for particular products, then determine whether or not to restock certain items overnight, for example, and tweak its marketing campaigns accordingly.

Finland-based home electronics retailer Veikon Kone used the Omni-Shopper Suite to create a loyalty program integrated with its e-commerce site as well as store sales data. The program allows the retailer to target consumers with offers based on the stores they visit most often and their online and in-store purchasing histories, Aldata says. In a service that supports in-store as well as online shopping, customers may also opt to receive e-mail newsletters and e-mails or SMS messages to their smartphones notifying them about deals matching their preferences, the company says.

“The software is enabling us to deliver true, store-level marketing, rewarding customers and making the right offers at the right time to our loyalty customer segments,” says Mikko Vainio, customer relationship manager at Veikon Kone. He notes that, because Aldata’s suite is Internet-hosted, the retailer saved on overhead costs for servers and software, which also reduced the time to launch by a few months. Veikon Kone declined to reveal how much it pays for the service.

At Finnish department store Carlson & Halonen, which also uses Aldata’s loyalty program along with marketing tools, marketing manager Carita Tuunala says Aldata provides a much broader range of features than any previous software the retailer had used. That includes better knowledge about customers and more targeted marketing, she says.

Aldata offers four modules in the Omni-Shopper Suite:

● The Omni-Shopper Relationship Management module compiles data on shopping activity and provides reports of shopping behavior based on segments of shoppers; it also lets retailers use this data to build web sites, social media content and digital marketing campaigns related to shoppers’ interests, the company says.

● Omni-Shopper In-Store is a platform that provides information on products and store locations and services to shoppers’ mobile phones. Using data on consumer shopping behavior and product sales collected by the rest of the software suite, the module provides promotions specific to individual shoppers related to the store they’re shopping in, plus the chance for shoppers and store associate to interact through a mobile device.

● Omni-Shopper Merchandising connects cross-channel data on consumer demand to help retailers choose relevant product assortments, including groups of products promoted in clusters, for specific stores and online.

● Omni-Shopper Fulfillment allows retailers to see inventory levels at all locations to manage stock replenishment and orders, Aldata says. It also supports such fulfillment options as in-store pickup of online orders and scheduled home deliveries.

The Helsinki-based company’s primary clients are large grocery stores and high-volume drugstore or home goods retailers, Davies says. It has offices in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The Omni-Shopper Suite starts at about $10,000-$15,000 per month with a $200,000 implementation fee for retailers that own about 50 to 100 stores, Davies says. After the initial implementation, prices are based on the number of customers a retailer has, he says.

“We get the economies of scale, and because the monthly fee we pay is based on the number of customers opted in to the system, it’s easy to incorporate into our budget,” says Vainio of retailer Veikon Kone

Retailers may begin using one module and add others as the need arises, Davies says.

Aldata announced last week its merger with EYC, which specializes in customer engagement analytics, to form a new company called Symphony EYC. Both companies were subsidiaries of Symphony Technology Group, a private equity firm based in Palo Alto, CA, which also owns the newly formed business.

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