The University of Arizona
Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing
Evan Gold, Executive Vice President of Global Partnerships & Alliances at Planalytics, presented an executive seminar on September 25 on the use and power of analytics in the retailing industry. This seminar is part of a series of similar events hosted by the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing at the University of Arizona. Students and industry professionals learned from his talk about the many opportunities that come with collecting and leveraging data, using analytics to not only understand trends, but also to predict and enhance sales.
Planalytics, a pioneer in the weather data and analytics industry, was founded in 1996 and offers its clients and partners the ability to, “effectively assess and proactively address how weather impacts their business.” Planalytics uses its Business Weather Intelligence® platform – a data-driven tool for understanding weather’s impact on business decisions – to provide easily understood answers to a wide variety of challenges, opportunities and strategies.
Gold explained the difference between data and analytics with an analogy. He shared that, “Data is like crude oil – a raw material – and initially, companies were focused on getting as much of it as possible. However, oil has to be refined to turned into gasoline, just as data needs to be analyzed to be turned into insight.”
Gold framed the weather analytics advantage in today’s COVID-19 market where we are all seeing significant disruptions in the market. Many specialty retailers, specifically apparel, are facing enormous challenges and even closing stores while grocers and many mass merchants are seeing a huge increase in sales. With these kinds of disruptions, it can be a daunting challenge, for retailers to evaluate effectively and accurately their strategies without the use of analytics.
However, there are an overwhelming number of factors that impact business. Weather alone provides an ongoing and consistent impact on consumer purchasing. Weather is a key driver in determining the need for seasonal products and consumers are buying and shopping at their time of need. Through the power of analytics, we can view this unique year’s sales trends and record it as a “known impact.”
Gold also shared that these tools are not focused solely on large weather events like hurricanes but also on day-in-and day-out changes in weather. He shared that 90% of the volatility that weather brings comes from these regular daily changes in weather. This means that one cannot just look at weather data and see trends – one must use analytics and modeling to understand weather-driven demand or WDD.
This talk came at the perfect time as students are witnessing a significant disruption in the retailing industry as a result of COVID-19. Gold shared with students that the current need of business analytics market in today’s climate is expected to grow 20% by 2026. This talk also offered students another opportunity to consider upon graduation – a career in retail analytics. Today, many retailers have fully staffed data teams and Chief Data Officers. There are also many companies seeking support from data analysis technologies, which Planalytics provides.
UArizona Retailing and Consumer Sciences sophomore, Grace Jacobson, said her key take away from the talk with Evan Gold was, “Analytics is a rising industry that is becoming increasingly more relevant within the retail world. Having a skill set in retail analytics can greatly benefit any student or professional even if that person is not directly seeking a career within retail technology or analytics.” Jacobson also shared that while her sights were not originally set on a career in retail technology there seems to be many great opportunities in this field. “I find myself now more interested in the field. Evan’s presentation sparked a new interest in this field and taught me the importance of being knowledgeable about data and analytics.” Speakers from industry, like Gold, are opening her eyes to vast and diverse opportunities for a career in retail.