Retail Business Intelligence Software Trends to Watch

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Written by Simon Porri

Every industry has undergone significant change in recent years but rarely is that more the case than with retail. The last five years alone have seen advancements such as online shopping and data influx shaking this industry and leaving many in the dust. And, with experts predicting that 50% of retail sales will occur online in as little as ten years, producing yet more data, countless retailers are seeking new ways to keep on top. Perhaps unsurprisingly, business intelligence is playing a massive role in their evolution

Retail business intelligence software trends are arising at a fast rate, and they’re enabling sellers from across the world to continually meet customer needs and industry standards in one easy package. The question is, which retail business intelligence software trends should you be keeping an eye out for as we move into this new tech-led decade?

Analytics tools (predictive and prescriptive)

As it stands, internet users generate an average of 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. This is the main reason that 97.2% of organisations now invest in big data, and it’s also why retailers could benefit from automated analytics tools that collate business data in one easy-use source of truth. 

Put simply, data and a retailer’s ability to grasp its meaning is the single most fundamental key to unlocking industry success. By understanding where consumers are coming from and how they’re browsing, front-runners can tailor experiences in ways that are guaranteed to appeal to the widest audience possible. Equally, data collation of details such as email addresses in real-time can mean the difference between retention or even completion in cases of issues like shopping cart abandonment. But, with such a vast amount of data increasingly coming their way, many retailers are finding that managing this manually is quickly becoming impossible.

Instead, retail business analytics software can collect data from across the retail landscape to help companies towards valuable insights on both a predictive and prescriptive basis. With the right data analytics tools to hand, retailers can even set actionable KPIs and track their progress without once adding to their workload. In short, BI-based analytics solutions like these can turn industry changes and data influx into a blessing that brings businesses closer to their goals, rather than a curse that keeps them one step removed from their closest competitors. 

business intelligence is changing (meeting link)

Artificial intelligence

47% of digitally mature businesses now use some form of artificial intelligence (AI), with 63% claiming that a need to cut costs is their leading reason for implementation. Given that digital maturity and cost-cutting are now significant focuses in the retail industry, many retailers are, therefore, also making the most of this growing trend. 

Defined as smart machines extending human capabilities in comprehension, action, learning, and more, AI software such as digital voice assistants and aptly named ‘retail bots’ stand to offer a great deal of insight and ease to retail processes. Most notably, the implementation of enhancements like chatbots can remove troubleshooting queries and long-winded communication for teams and customers alike. Equally, with Gartner predicting that AI will play at least some part in every software product by 2020, even automated BI systems like those mentioned above rely on AI to some extent. And, embracing these technologies can see businesses removing menial tasks in place of more pressing retail focuses moving forward.

Cognitive computing

Along those artificial intelligence lines, many retailers are now turning to cognitive computing software that uses AI and scientific discipline-led insights to simplify processes and better manage their inventory management/information-gathering capabilities. From both an online and physical perspective, many experts actually claim that this BI capability alone will change the face of retail as we know it. And, it’s already had a significant impact, with 94% of retailers intending to invest

To understand just how much cognitive computing could change the retail game, consider that use cases for such software already include:

  • Weather data for retail targeting: While basics like purchase history and browsing habits are a data collation standard across the retail industry, cognitive computing software is taking that one step further with the incorporation of weather data. This, paired with other data sources, could see retailers targeting things like umbrella or raincoat ads depending on rain predictions, etc. And, the right BI software makes it all possible without any added workload.
  • Faster inventory management processes: With the introduction of the right cognitive computing software, retailers can even simplify long-winded inventory management processes with online customers in mind. Rather than needing to scroll through and develop keywords for every product, retailers can implement inventory to such software on a bulk basis for automated sorting, and still enjoy up to 95% keyword accuracy.


On average, 71% of consumers express frustration at impersonal shopping experiences. As such, personalisation is always crucial, and BI software is playing a massive part in helping retailers to achieve it. 

Analytics, as discussed at the start of this article, play a considerable part in this, allowing as they do for retailers to understand everything from buying histories to geographic areas and more. But business intelligence in this area goes a lot further, with top-end dashboards also predicting trends, tailoring discounts, and even ensuring that advertisements are more relevant based on data input. 

Top retailers are even utilising mobile-led BI software and data collation to predict and analyse shopping habits across devices and multiple platforms, including retail applications. This is fundamental for appealing to a modern, mobile-focused audience, and it’s a goal that would surely remain out of reach without BI’s helping hand. 

Tailoring customer experiences in-store

While personalisation is vital, it’s also important to remember that retailers need to ensure they’re delivering the same brand experience to in-store shoppers. After all, brand recognition is vital to pulling in new customers and retaining existing ones — they’ll want to know that you’re offering them a unique experience.

Customer experience and audit software can measure store standards in order to make sure this remains uniform across all stores, providing customers with a great memory of their exchange with you no matter which store they visit. BI software can then enhance these audit scores and allow them to be utilised to their fullest potential by adding them to a dashboard, allowing you a more clear visual of how your customer experience is performing and how it can be improved. These kinds of technological trends can help ensure your retail business is heading in the right direction. 

demo of business intelligence tool

Business intelligence and the retail promise

The role of BI in continued retail success is impossible to deny, and reliable software, dashboards, and data collation are fundamental at every stage of that journey. What’s more, focusing on software that integrates centralisation into these processes guarantees that work-reducing BI applications really do cut, rather than increase, workloads. 

The need for a stable BI background becomes especially pressing when you consider the speed with which trends like these look set to change. 2019 alone has seen the face of retail and it’s BI uses shift in ways no one could have predicted. And, with 2020 set to alter the retail landscape even further, getting on top with business intelligence integrations and dashboards sooner rather than later is an absolute industry must.

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