How Crate And Barrel Is Revamping Its In-Store Analytics

Less than a year after former Guess marketing exec Michael Relich took the COO reins at Crate and Barrel, the company's mobile approach getting an major overhaul.

Home furnishings has been one bright spot during an otherwise dismal time for big retail brands, but Crate and Barrel isn’t counting on industry trends to drive sales.

The 55-year-old retailer, perennially locked in a tight battle against brands like Williams-Sonoma and Restoration Hardware for “aspirational” consumers for home furnishings, is prepping the release of a variety of mobile and analytics tools from platform company MicroStrategy 10 across 170 U.S. stores over the next few weeks.

The Retail Challenge

The goal is to synthesize real-time customer insights and put it into the hands of Crate and Barrel executives, merchants, analysts, and store managers.

Like all upscale-looking retailers, Crate and Barrel has to contend with attenuated consumer spending and the ever-rising demand that stores meet the personalized services, convenience, and price comparison capabilities shoppers have been conditioned to expect via e-commerce channels.

One of the struggles associated with “omnichannel personalization” for brick-and-mortar brands is that there isn’t a one-size fits all strategy that can be applied from the top down to local stores.

At the very least, having access to performance-based systems that reflect national and local trends at the store level can help eliminate wasteful marketing more quickly. It can also highlight products and services that may be working elsewhere, thereby cutting through some red tape to get similar efforts underway at other stores.

Mastering In-Store Data

COO Michael Relich, who took joined the retailer from Guess in May 2016 after 12 years at the jeans marketer, has told eMarketer that Crate and Barrel same-store sales have been “positive for months.” Aware that he can’t rely on a relatively favorable housing market to support the business, he has been sharpening the brand’s thinking about the use of analytics and its approach to omnichannel since his start.

“We know we have a lot of web traffic,” Relich told eMarketer in January 2017. “What we are working on is linking browsing data to actual customers and taking online activity to physical store activity through machine learning. Now we do very simple [customer] segmentation. If I can start to take browsing history, social media history and tie that to your transaction history, I can start to do very specific segmentation. We want to make sure we are top of mind.

“If you can master the data, you can really target customers with what they want and optimize your marketing,” Relich added.

He also pointed to the need to create a more seamless experience between online and offline channels. The use of MicroStrategy 10’s services is a part of making that happen, Relich said in a statement highlighting the deal.

“Because MicroStrategy 10 gives us mobile functionality, real-time data access, and self-service features at enterprise scale, we can fundamentally change business reporting and the customer shopping experience for the better,” Relich said.

Still, the work with MicroStrategy just solves one piece of the puzzle. Giving those mobile consumers a reason to leave their current couches to come to a store to check out a new one will continue to be the main issue for retailers like Crate and Barrel.

“Retail is a constantly moving industry that requires staying on top of consumer trends, supply-and-demand, inventory, sales, employee performance and more,” said Michael J. Saylor, MicroStrategy’s CEO. “Industry leaders like Crate and Barrel are using MicroStrategy analytics and mobility solutions to connect to multiple data sources so they can transform strategies to maximize profit and improve the overall consumer shopping experience.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.