Cities in countries all over the world continue a gradual and methodical reopening of communities, events and services as we approach ever closer toward a post-pandemic world. As recovery is on the horizon, hopeful optimism is rising among Canadians that have experienced the impacts brought about by the COVID-19 virus and a return to normal is just around the corner. For many retailers, the next year-and-a-half or so represents opportunities for recovery after an incredibly difficult period for the industry. And, for some, it will also serve as a critical period of growth potential as they look to expand their operations and networks to capitalize on a rebound in consumer spending and market conditions. To help support the recovery and growth efforts of clients in Canada, RBC recently introduced its award-winning RBC Insights Edge – a platform for real-time data and insights. And, according to Christina Vandoremalen, Vice President, Business Deposits and Treasury Solutions, RBC, the benefits of the platform can be transformative.
“Data insights – like those offered by RBC Insight Edge – are incredibly valuable for businesses because they can help them make informed decisions about their next business move and investment,” she says. “These insights can help a business owner benchmark their performance against their peers, find trends in their customers’ profiles, preferences and shopping behaviours, and understand sales and market trends in order to adapt everything from staffing and resources, to finding future locations to grow their business.”
A powerful subscription-based tool developed to provide commercial and small to medium retail business clients with a much-needed edge on their competition, RBC’s platform delivers pivotal insights to retail businesses that support and inform their strategy and decision-making. Comprised of aggregated RBC credit card and debit card transactional data, and enhanced with demographic data, the insights generated also provide retailers with a critical view into some of the finer details of their customer’s behaviour. In addition, and perhaps most important at this juncture in the retail recovery timeline, says Vandoremalen, is the view it provides its users into the ways the pandemic has accelerated, shifted or outright changed the landscape.
“RBC Insight Edge is suitable for businesses of all sizes that are looking for a simpler, more aggregated way to access comprehensive data around customer and market trends, competitive benchmarks and other insights to support the operation and growth of their business,” she asserts. “While it’s designed to support clients across a variety of sectors, it’s been especially helpful for those in retail who are currently adapting to COVID-19 and planning for the post-pandemic economy, as they’ve seen a change in customer profiles, new shopping behaviours, and broader digital trends that have disrupted the sector over the last several years.”
Informing business strategy
The digitization of the industry that Vandoremalen refers to has been germinating over many years prior to the pandemic. However, influenced by lockdowns and social restrictions associated with COVID-19, an acceleration of consumer behaviour around digital trends like the shift toward ecommerce has resulted in required action by retailers everywhere. Overnight, many businesses pivoted to ensure that shoppers could continue to access and purchase product whenever, wherever and however they wanted to. Given the general operational upheaval that these drastic changes in behaviour can cause, the potential that RBC Insight Edge offers to better understand current behaviour and develop the right strategy for the business is immense.
“Whether businesses are looking to keep a brick-and-mortar strategy, switch over to ecommerce or develop a hybrid business strategy, RBC Insight Edge is a powerful tool that helps businesses gain a better sense of customer and market trends to guide their business investments and decisions,” she explains. “As the marketplace and customer expectations continue to evolve, so too will the real-time insights offered by the RBC Insight Edge platform, allowing business clients to quickly pivot, scale and identify new opportunities for growth. These insights can also complement other market research and data sources to further validate their business decisions.”
Supporting growth and expansion
One retailer that’s recently leveraged RBC Insight Edge, supporting the growth of its store network and a deeper understanding of the markets it serves, is Peavey Industries LP. Operating multiple banners – including Peavey Mart, Ace Canada and MainStreet Hardware – in markets across the country, it’s developed a reputation among its customers as Canada’s go-to farm and ranch retailer, offering a unique selection of agriculture, farm and ranch, pet, work wear, lawn and garden, hardware and homesteading supplies. The company is hot on the heels of aggressive expansion into new markets. And, according to Doug Anderson, President and CEO at Peavey Industries LP, the RBC Insight Edge platform and insights that it generates have helped to inform the retailer’s growth strategy and decisions around expansion.
“Leveraging analytics is really about developing a better understanding of your customer and the markets that you operate in,” he says. “It allows us as a retailer to continuously improve our relationships with customers as well as the product assortment that we offer them. And, because we’re in growth mode as an organization at the moment, analytics are informing our decision-making around where we grow and in what ways we grow. We’ve leveraged RBC Insight Edge in a number of ways in order to support our objectives. For instance, we recently evaluated a location in Alberta and were trying to understand which of our banners would best serve the customers in that area. The data and insights generated by the platform provided us with a deep understanding of the customers from a regional perspective, helping to inform our strategy.”
Developing a stronger network
In addition to helping Peavey Industries develop a clear vision with respect to identifying prospective profitable locations, the benefits of RBC Insight Edge stretch much further, informing decisions and strategy that impact the entire business. The insights shed light on the things that are going well and some of the things that can be optimized; sales performance trends and regional comparisons; customer behaviour and the aspects of the retail experience that helps drive their loyalty, as well as many other aspects of the operation. And, one of the most significant contributions of the platform’s insights, says Anderson, is the ability they provide in helping to monitor the health of the Peavey Industries network as a whole.
“One of the more critical aspects of the data that’s generated by RBC Insight Edge is the insights that allows us to understand how a new location will impact that particular region, as well as the impact it might have on our other stores within each banner network,” he says. “The insights also enable us to gain a deeper understanding into the performance of new stores and properly set goals and objectives for those locations. It helped us determine where some of our blind-spots were from a customer penetration point-of-view and whether or not we were capturing all of the customers that we were expecting to capture at a new location. As a result, as we rolled out our marketing programs and advertising, we were able to adjust and refine our plans accordingly. From an expansion perspective, the tools provided by RBC Insight Edge have been quite useful to us.”
Making sense of uncertainty
The growth that Peavey Industries has experienced throughout the pandemic has been remarkable. And, although not all retailers within the country have been able to boast the same kind of performance and trajectory during the same time, it’s understood by most that the use of data and analytics will continue to become more pervasive and useful as we continue to move toward a post-COVID environment. The ability it arms retailers with to better understand their customers, markets and own operations is impressive. They are data-driven results that Vandoremalen recognizes as of notable importance to most retailers operating within the industry, but suggests that the tool’s ability to clear up some of the uncertainty of our current situation may serve most useful in helping the industry recover and rebound moving forward.
“As we enter a phase of recovery and growth in this ‘new normal’, data-backed decision making will be an important driver of recovery, growth and staying competitive. No one really knows how shopping patterns will shift and how quickly they will change in a post- pandemic world, so having access to timely data will help retailers spot changing trends quickly. Making measured decisions based on these real-time insights will also be critical in helping businesses manage the post-pandemic realities of rising costs, heightened demand for talent and resources, and new consumer behaviours, and optimize their businesses accordingly.”
For commercial and small to medium-sized retail clients interested in finding out more concerning the ways RBC Insight Edge can help you develop a clearer understanding of their customers and operations, sign up at http://rbc.com/insightedge.
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