Now, however, according to a panel debate at the recent Buying and Merchandising Summit in London, new technology is starting to have an impact on this essential division of the retailing environment.
Traditionally, merchandisers have had access to the planning and data offered by ERP software. Now they can also quickly gain real-time data from the information collated by new online scraping technology.
The ability to respond to demand
Merchandisers are increasingly keen to use this technology to help them respond to demand, trends and regional differences. Major retailers are rushing to trial new scraping devices and systems offered by their service providers while some companies, such as fashion and homeware chain Next, are developing their own internal systems for online scraping.
Scraping tools allow retailers to scan the market to find out who’s doing what, right now. This became evident at the recent London and New York fashion weeks when headline statistics that were instantly published revealed the extent of the insight that can be gathered during these events.
By investing in scraping technologies, merchandisers gain in-depth information when they need it on what’s happening right now in their given marketplace.
Making decisions fast
The insight gained from new online scraping technologies allows merchandisers to make informed decisions. The technology does all the work and churns out analytics in a format that’s easy for merchandisers to digest, and, therefore, to act upon quickly.
All the information gathered by scrapes is readily available, but it would be incredibly time-consuming to collate it using any other method. To manually access the content of every retail website would be an impossible task.
The value that scraping tools bring to merchandisers is the ability to speed up decision-making and reaction time based on highly current data. Scraping tools represent a significant opportunity for merchandisers to stay one step ahead of the competition.
Hearing the voice of the consumer
Analytics from online scrapes allows retailers to measure content on their websites from a customer perspective. Through insight programmes and social media analysis, merchandisers are able to find out which are their popular products directly from the consumer.
This means merchandisers can improve their content from customer interactions. For a division that has been overlooked when it comes to pioneering new technologies, this represents significant progression for buyers and merchandisers in their bid to become completely customer-focussed.
Online scraping is a natural extension of the data gathering capabilities of CRM solutions. To find out more, talk to HSO about maintaining enterprise solutions based on Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.