Expanded suite of solutions applies machine learning and predictive analytics to voice of customer data to drive dramatic sales and margin gains through better product decisions
October 16, 2018 – First Insight, Inc., a global technology company transforming how leading retailers make product investment and pricing decisions, today announced the launch of the industry’s first comprehensive platform enabling Customer-Centric Merchandising. The suite of solutions expands upon First Insight’s successful pre-season product testing platform to bring deeper analysis, increased predictive capabilities, precise price forecasting, targeted customer segmentation data and accurate buy quantity recommendations on new products. The solutions are fast and simple to use while fully compliant with global standards for data governance and privacy.
“The global retail market is changing quickly, and retailers and brands need to adapt in order to survive and thrive,” said Greg Petro, CEO and founder of First Insight. “We are bringing new capabilities to the retail industry, based on collected learnings and feedback from our valued customers over the last decade. Our expanded platform applies machine learning and predictive analytics to nearly a decade of Voice of Consumer data to provide retailers with the most information and strongest recommendations on the products they are bringing to market. We are excited to take our solution to an entirely new level”.
Founded in 2007, First Insight has grown rapidly into the largest provider of solutions for digital pre-season testing of new products. More than 100 retailers, brands and manufacturers leverage the First Insight solution every day to rapidly consumer-test new items and make more informed decisions on product design, selection and pricing. First Insight leveraged this experience, along with its vast data set comprised of of millions of Voice of Consumer data points collected over more than 10 years, to bring these new capabilities to market.
First Insight’s Customer-Centric Merchandising Platform enables the following:
Attribute-driven Product Design: First Insight’s platform now allows attribute tagging and analysis, letting designers understand which design elements will resonate most with consumers. Designers can also view aggregate reports to see how attributes are trending over time, both in their own assortments and in comparison to the rest of the industry.
Machine Learning-driven Product Selection: First Insight’s InsightSelection application now leverages the collective wisdom of millions of data points from consumer data, product test data, and product performance data. Using machine learning, First Insight’s algorithms are trained on these data along with new information being collected every day. This is resulting in increased predictive capability, enabling merchants to make more accurate product selection decisions.
AI-driven Pricing: First Insight’s InsightPricing application is the only solution to leverage Bayesian modeling applied to real-time pricing data from customers, along with historical benchmark data. The result is a highly accurate pre-season price elasticity curve for each product, along with accurate forecasts of average unit retail prices before the product is launched. With these data, retailers can understand expected sell-through at full price, and plan for expected demand as a product is marked down.
Buy Quantity: For the first time, retailers and brands can not only make selection and pricing decisions with confidence, they can place buy orders at the proper depth based on predictive modeling. First Insight’s InsightPlanning application leverages historical data combined with real-time consumer data and advanced analytics to deliver buy quantity recommendations that allow merchants and planners to accurately weight buys, reducing stockouts and over-stocks.
Compliance with Industry Standards: GDPR, SOC-2. Retailers and brands need to ensure compliance with global standards for data privacy. First Insight is the only Customer-Centric Merchandising platform which is fully compliant with the new GDPR standards. In addition, First Insight is SOC-2 compliant, giving companies the confidence of knowing that data are secure and standards are adhered to.
Integration and APIs: First Insight now offers APIs for integration with other mission-critical retail technologies, including systems for PLM, 3D CAD, Assortment Planning, Pricing and Markdown Optimization, and CRM/Campaign Management. This is resulting in a seamless process for retailers and brands to incorporate First Insight’s consumer-driven product data into the entire ecosystem of solutions.
Ease of Implementation and Use: First Insight works with small start-up brands to large global retailers. The cloud-based solution is now easier to implement through the introduction of wizard-based approaches for test set-up and execution. Visual, customizable dashboards allow for intuitive interpretation of results by multiple user types – from designers to merchants to planners to marketers.
“First Insight is transforming the industry with its Customer-Centric Merchandising Platform,” said Dr. Mark Chrystal, Chief Analytics Officer for fast-fashion retailer rue21. “I have had experience using First Insight’s solution at two different retailers over the last 5 years. What started out as the industry’s first high-speed digital testing solution has now evolved into a comprehensive platform enabling retailers to run their businesses more efficiently. At rue21, our objective is to put the customer at the center of everything we do. We are seeing strong gains from using First Insight at rue21 in reduction in markdowns, improvements in margins, and speed to market.”
First Insight’s Customer Centric Merchandising Platform uses online social engagement tools to gather real-time preference, pricing and sentiment data on potential product offerings. The information is filtered through First Insight’s predictive analytic models to determine which products present the greatest opportunity. The solution typically delivers 30-80% improvements in new product success rates and 3-9% increases in gross profit.
McKinsey & Company, in its 2018 report entitled How Analytics and Digital will Drive Next Generation Merchandising stated: “Winning decisions are increasingly driven by analytics more than instinct, experience, or merchant ‘art’. What succeeded in the past is now a poor predictor of the future.” The report continued, “By leveraging smarter tools—those beyond backward-looking, ‘hindsighting’ analysis—retailers can increasingly make forward-looking predictions that are quickly becoming the ‘table stakes’ necessary to keep up.”
Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory company, named First Insight as a Sample Vendor in its July 2018 Hype Cycle for Retail Technologies, 2018 for the sixth consecutive year in the category of “Customer-Centric Merchandising and Marketing.” In describing how retailers can benefit from technologies such as those offered by First Insight, report authors Robert Hetu and Mike Lowndes note, "Customer centricity requires the application of algorithms to big data to extract meaningful information to enable customer-centric actions across merchandising and marketing…. Targeted assortments and strategically placed inventory aligned with targeted marketing will increase sales and margins while reducing costs and improving customer experience.” Gartner indicates a benefit rating of “high” for retailers who implement customer-centric merchandising approaches.
Mr. Petro continued, “Our new Customer-Centric Merchandising Platform lets retailers and brands make sure they have the right product, priced right, bought at the right quantity, and targeted to the right customers. We are excited to bring the benefits of this platform to our existing customers as well as to help new customers transform their business by making data-driven product decisions.”
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About First Insight, Inc.
First Insight is the world’s leading customer-centric merchandising platform that empowers retailers and brands to incorporate the Voice of the Customer into the design, pricing, planning, and marketing of new products. Through the use of online consumer engagement, the First Insight solution gathers real-time consumer data and applies predictive analytic models to create actionable insights, which drive measurable value. Retailers, manufacturers and brands use the First Insight solution to design, select, price, plan and market the most profitable new products for reduced markdown rates and improved sales, margins and inventory turnover. Customers include some of world’s leading vertically integrated brands, sporting goods companies, department stores, mass merchant retailers and wholesalers. For further information, please visit www.firstinsight.com.
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