A Glimpse at the Future of Data Driven Retailing

person holding pencil near laptop computer

On countless occasions during her career, Kerrie Lopez wished she had analytics to back up an idea. That said, Lopez, the head of merchandising marketing with Thrive Market, is careful not to rely on analytics too heavily.

It’s a fine balance that all business leaders must walk these days.

“The biggest takeaway I would have is that you should be using data to guide your decisions, not to make them or delay them,” said Lopez, whose employer is an e-commerce retailer offering natural and organic food.

Lopez provided that advice Wednesday, during Cornell University’s “Rethinking Retail and Brands” virtual teleconference. Lopez’s speaking session touched on data driven retailing at large. Cornell’s four-day, live virtual conference, which runs through Friday, aims to offer those in the industry actionable insight from retail experts.

The event is largely designed to offer a deeper understanding of rapidly shifting consumer behaviors.

In that spirit, Wednesday afternoon’s session touched, in part, on the steps those in the food industry need to take to reach today’s consumers. Lopez reiterated a few of the key interests and demands modern consumers have, such as:

  • Plant-based products
  • Refillable products (i.e., stainless steel straws)
  • Recycling
  • Sustainable sourcing
  • Brands focused on inclusivity

But Lopez’s overarching sentiment on Wednesday – and a key element of her closing remarks – entailed using data analytics with an open mind as a business leader.

“Being able to get answers with the data you have – to, again, guide your decisions – is the most important thing, to enable you to be more creative,” Lopez said, “and use data and insights to say ‘How can I think about this problem a little differently?’ To create an amazing, sustainable product [for example] that could potentially cut costs out of the supply chain, data is at the heart of all those decisions.”