By now, we all know that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of every business profoundly and irrevocably. We very well may return to many pre-pandemic ways of working now that many of us are vaccinated and life is returning somewhat to normal. However, many former ways of working come across today as wildly inefficient and, for good reason, may never return. At First Insight, our bet is that the old ways retailers used to visit showrooms and do line reviews will be some of the ones that go away. Merchants traveling the world to visit far-flung showrooms will be a relic of the pre-digitalized way of doing business.
Most B2B seller interactions have moved to remote or digital and around 70-80 percent of B2B decision makers prefer remote human interactions or digital self-service due to ease of scheduling, savings on travel expenses and safety according to McKinsey & Company research.
First Insight’s Digital Line Review has transformed a primarily intuitive or historical sales-driven exercise to one that utilizes data, Voice of the Customer, and pricing models to allow merchants to make successful, better performing decisions.
The First Insight Digital Line Review platform effectively resolves the issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic which forced retailers to review collections or products virtually. Large internal groups now have a forum which aggregates comments and rankings, creating greater decision-making transparency. It also brings together in-the-moment predictive sales data and customer feedback so that retail teams are armed with the right data to make decisions which will positively impact sell-through and bottom line results. Decisions are logged concurrently so that information important to design and planning teams is captured in real time.
As Mark Chrystal, formerly rue21’s Chief Analytics Officer noted, “The pandemic made line reviews and product selection extremely difficult for our merchants, and our attempts at doing line reviews on Zoom were not an effective alternative to being in the market.” He went on to share: “The Digital Line Review capability from First Insight changed everything. We expanded our digital testing and increased how heavily we were weighting the Voice of the Customer in our decision making.”
Zippo, the well-known lighter manufacturer, has been leveraging First Insight’s Digital Line Reviews. Lucas Johnson, Zippo’s Senior Brand Manager, Global Marketing said, “We are never going back to the old way of doing line reviews. Screen-sharing the First Insight results made our first-ever remote line review the best, most productive line review meeting we had ever had. Without the First Insight inputs, these meetings dragged on with discussions about individual opinions. Now we’re able to make fact-based decisions and do it more efficiently.”
Another opportunity for disruption are showroom visits, which require teams to be away from the office for days. Digital showrooms, also known as virtual showrooms, are an innovative solution that lets brands and retail buyers engage and sell products through an online platform. Virtual showroom platforms have been around for several years but the pandemic dramatically accelerated a wider acceptance across the retail industry.
Predictive analytics and the Voice of the Customer must become active decision-making components for companies that want to win in the coming decade. Relying on instinct or past sales history simply does not offer enough actionable insight to plan for the future. First Insight’s Digital Line Review allows retailers and brands to anticipate outcomes through a combination of user-generated content, mathematical models, and predictive analytics. Customer preferences can be tested for everything from colors and fabrication to pricing and even marketing messaging. Customer-driven value scores allow customer partners to understand which products will succeed and which ones will fail. Actionable results illustrate demand at various price points, ultimately helping merchants to optimize retail pricing as well as to understand the depth to which they should stock any particular item.
Learn more about how your team can utilize First Insight’s Digital Line Review to transform your buying process from a reactive to a proactive one. Schedule a Demo below.