How Predictive Analytics Is Set To Help Brands Like Urban Outfitters Stock Stores

With omnichannel strategies like in-store pickup, stocking physical locations has grown increasingly complicated. Celect looks to help retailers stay ahead of the problem.

Retail company URBN — brands under its umbrella include Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain, and BHLDN — has partnered with predictive analytics company Celect to aid in its store buying and stocking decisions. The move looks to help the brands give shoppers more of the merchandise they want, as well as to avoid typical retail frustrations like over- and under-ordering.

For its part, Celect uses existing customer data to help automate merchandise planning and allocation through machine learning and predictive analytics. Put simply, the company can look at information about customers — and what they’ve bought in the past — and then use technology to help retailers make smarter predictions about what items to offer both in stores and online.

“Our cloud-based predictive analytics platform takes vast amounts of existing, known data such as transaction logs, product descriptors, and inventory data, for each individual shopper to form a customer choice model,” said Todd Harris, director of marketing at Celect. “This model helps retailers optimize assortments both in-store and online, while predicting future customer intent. We [try to bring] science to the art of retail.”

Beyond Cost-Cutting

It’s easy to see why a major retail entity like URBN could benefit from using predictive analytics to inform its buying and distribution: Together, its brands operate more than 500 retail locations worldwide. Increasing efficiency in such a way is crucial to managing diverse physical locations — and minimizing expenses.

But beyond cost cutting, the partnership with Celect is symbolic of something more. It comes on the heels of Urban Outfitters’ 2015 beacon deployment, and the URBN brands have begun to experiment with proximity marketing in a bid to offer increased shopper personalization — as well as the streamlined omnichannel experience that is now expected as consumers turn equally to desktop, mobile, and in-store for purchasing. Embracing this marriage of the digital and the physical with Celect on the backend as well could prove a smart business strategy.

Harris also stated that as retailers look to provide experiences like “buy online, pick up in-store,” stocking products adequately becomes much more complicated — and many of today’s retailers are looking to get ahead of the problem.

“With rising costs and increasing customer demands such as buy online and ship from store,” Harris said, “retailers are finding that embracing technologies to expose growth opportunities is critical to success.”

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.