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Santosh Kumar

Santosh Kumar is a senior marketing professional with extensive experience in helping business’ get the very best in BI and Analytics Solutions. If your business is looking to adopt and leverage analytics in any form, he is the person you need to be talking to. Linkedin , Twitter

ULTA – Assisted Selling

There are 2 defining axioms that define marketing to millennials and they are as follows:

  1. Millennials are more likely to spend on experiences than products.
  2. Millennials are value conscious.

ULTA, the multi-billion dollar value cosmetics retailer, has got both these axioms rights. And their loyalty program ULTIMATE REWARDS at the foundation on which the marketing strategy pivots.

In order to enrich the experience for the customers, ULTA has made a number of big investments – they have repositioned their stores which double as product experience centres. In-store salons allow the buyers to try makeup and gadgets before purchase. Buyers can also get samples, read product reviews and expert advice when they are in the store. For the at-home buyers, their Glam lab allows the customer to upload selfies and test products against their skin tones. Tying in-store and at-home buying behaviour with digital tools have been a master stroke for driving growth.

Their loyalty program also allows them to create unique buying experience for the customers. It is the driver behind hyper personalization. Rather than receiving standard blanket loyalty point offers, and discounts on products, the customer receives surprise rewards that are tailor-made for her. It has changed the customer experience and has allowed them to move away from margin killing flat-off discounts. The highly personalized experience combined with mid-range prices given them the edge in the fight for value seeking millennials. With more than 90% of sales coming from 20 million+ loyalty members they are clearly driving loyalty and earning repeat business.

Other retailers can learn a few tricks on how to compete in the new world of retail where experience is the key and digital needs to permeate in-store experience.

If you are looking for ideas to improve your store experience, Manthan can help you. Manthan’s Retail Analytics solutions are built exclusively for retail and tailored to fit unique retail decision-making needs. With the experience of serving 100s of customers across 22 countries, across Fashion & Apparel, Food & Grocery, Specialty and Mass Merchandise, you are bound to get what you are looking for.

For a quick overview download this Data Sheet

If you are interested in a 15 min. discovery call with Manthan, do write to us at

Real Time Data Processing vs Batch Data Processing

If your business is still on batch data processing you have a hole in your pocket. And its making you lose money, fast. The biggest disadvantage of batch processing is that it creates a time delay. This time delay happens between your transaction receiving and output. Let’s look at how transactions receiving work. All the data your business generates, be it CRM data, POS data, Inventory data, Sales etc. can be viewed as unique transactions that are collected in multiple systems. All this data is stored in different business units within your organization and they all use different interfaces to collect and enter their data. But the important thing to note is that it gets collected somewhere. Now the problem is, you need to enter it in a format that can be viewed by multiple departments. Now, what your team decided to do, was to have all these transactions processed independently at a desired, designated time. This is called Batch data processing. It collects all the inventory data based on the current in and out stock, and uploads it at 12 a.m., when none of your other employees are eating into company bandwidth. Similarly, it collects all the CRM data, POS Data and sales data and uploads it at that ungodly hour. Fast forward to 8 a.m. the next morning. The store manager looks into his i-pad to get the inventory status for the day. He sees data that was uploaded 8 hours prior and cannot see the large shipment that came in at 4 a.m. Your VP of sales is looking to understand how many Doritos was sold yesterday. But your system failed to report that a customer walked in at 2 a.m. and wiped out all the munchies for a party. This is just one example, using a grocery chain as model clay. Do you see the hole in the pocket now? Enter our protagonist: Real time data processing. Real time data processing involves continuous input, process and output of data. It allows data to be processed in a short period of time (we are talking milli-seconds). Going back to our grocery chain example, if a packet of chips was bought at 2:00:00 a.m., your data is updated to reflect that transaction at 2:00:01 a.m. If there was a delivery of avocados at 4:00:00 a.m., your system has a log updated at 4:00:01 a.m. Can you imagine the power of this Real time data? Decisions can be made on the fly, without having to worry if you are looking at the most recent data. So how does this really work anyway? To really understand this, we need to go back to batch processing. Remember I told you that all the data collected throughout the day, gets updated at 12 a.m.? When it comes to Real time processing, each and every transaction that happens can be considered as a 12 a.m. batch upload. In other words, your system goes back and calculates all the transactions that happened throughout the day/ week/ month and adds 1 transaction to that total. All this happens in milliseconds! Each transaction can have multiple records in it and each record can be of multiple sizes. This would mean you now need a powerful web server and tons of money spent in infrastructure management right? Not really. Real time processing is now completely server-less and can be continuously scaled depending on your transaction receiving. If you are interested in reading about a company that benefited from Real time processing, have a look at this Case study.

Going OmniChannel with Click and Collect

The Click and Collect market segment is now worth $3.7B year currently and worth almost $1.6B in the final quarter of the year alone. For a convenience store retailer this market represents a huge opportunity. Gone are the days when you categorized customers into ‘Store only’ or ‘Online Only’. Today’s customers want an Omnichannel experience and if your store is not onboard this new phenomenon, you are bound to be left behind.

‘Click and Collect’ you say?

For the uninitiated, Waitrose was the first supermarket in the UK to launch a series of automated, temperature-controlled lockers in third party locations. Orders are stored in ambient, chilled and frozen lockers and can be refilled several times a day. Customers can place orders through on their computer or tablet and will be sent a text message with a PIN number. Customers can then drive up to the Click and Collect lockers, enter the PIN and collect their shopping. As simple as that. In the current scenario, customers are losing confidence in their online orders reaching them on time, especially during Christmas, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Imagine having to explain your 5 year old the concept of delayed delivery due to excessive online orders. The other downside from a retailer POV is the ever increasing cost in real estate, which makes setting up a full-fledged store in every locality of the city, a distant dream. With the Click and collect model as an extension to your current set up, your store can ensure the customer gets their preferred size of cold turkey, with all the trimmings, just before Christmas. And all that without having to stand in a line. Imagine the loyalty this could drive! To quantify the size of this market opportunity that Waitrose is tapping: $80M of their $930M sales last year was through the ‘Click and Collect’ model. Other major retailers like Amazon, Tesco, Sainsbury, Coles and Boots have seen this trend evolve and have a substantial investment in this setup. The only problem this model is now throwing up, is the limited no. of slots available for pick up. The customers can’t seem to get enough of this ‘fad’. And why wouldn’t they. If you got a guarantee that you would have your order delivered and can pick it up on the way back from work, at a convenient location like a subway stop for example, you are bound to adapt and adopt. So how do the big guns make this happen? They probably have scores of people working the wires in the background to make the logistics of a ‘click and collect’ model work, right? Wrong. All you need is a strong partner in analytics to help you adapt to this market trend.  Manthan offers you solutions that can see you through your retail transformation and adapt to this new, omnichannel, store experience.


Manthan’s Retail Analytics solution can proactively give you business recommendations around attribution, inventory, assortment localization and help you forecast demand better. In other words, imagine a solution that can weave inventory and market intelligence that could enable your store to place a ‘Available for Click and Collect’ button next to specific items on your e-commerce portal. Their Customer Analytics solution gives you a single view of the customer which gets you making product recommendations that is actually ‘backed by data’. You can segment guests, analyze your promotions, and execute an omnichannel campaign through their powerful ‘machine learning based’ recommendation engine.  Couple this with the execution capability of their TargetOne solution, you can truly bring the whole, ‘show ads on their laptop, collect orders placed on a tablet and send a message on the mobile’ experience to life.