Actional Insights From APT's Retail Practice

Amazon Pantry Takes on Bulk Buying

January 7th, 2014 | Posted by JDouglass in Grocery/Convenience | Retail - (Comments Off)

Amazon is coming for supermarkets again: this time, through the new “Pantry” service. As USA Today recently reported, Amazon is planning to launch Pantry in 2014, and this may mean trouble for warehouse retailers, supermarkets, and grocers. (more…)

2013 Black Friday Comps Increase 2.1%

December 5th, 2013 | Posted by JDouglass in Retail - (Comments Off)

Data released today from the APT Index  shows that 2013 Black Friday sales in the US rose 2.1% year-over-year. This increase was driven by temperature over Black Friday weekend (warmer areas fared better) and median income (areas with a median household income of less than $75,000/year performed better). The best-performing metro areas in the US, based on change in comp sales included Riverside, CA (up 8%); San Antonio (up 6.9%); and San Diego (up 5.7%). The cities that saw the worst performance year-over-year included New York (-2.3%); Baltimore (-2.0%); and Washington (up 0.3%). Click here to read more about Black Friday performance.

The APT Index measures retail sales performance, based on a subset of APT’s $2 trillion in sales data –$1 of every $5 of retail sales— by aggregating data from sales registers at over 50,000+ retail and restaurant locations across the US to show how year-over-year performance changes for same store sales in the physical channel for retail.

The APT Index examined Black Friday weekend 2013, including sales on Thursday November 28th, Friday November 29th, and Saturday November 30th.

Is Facebook Advertising Really a Black Box?

December 2nd, 2013 | Posted by JDouglass in Retail - (Comments Off)

Bloomberg recently reported that a Forrester report surveying almost 400 marketers revealed they were generally skeptical about the effectiveness of social media advertising, and particularly the effectiveness of advertising through Facebook. (more…)

“[APT’s] credentials in controlled experiments in business, particularly retail, are unparalleled,” wrote Scott Brinker in a recent article for Chief Marketing Technologist.  In the interview, APT Chairman Jim Manzi discussed the importance of running in-market tests for leading organizations to understand the impact of each business decision.  Manzi explains that due to the extremely “noisy” data environment in which consumer-facing businesses operate, there are countless external factors that may contribute to the outcome of any new program (e.g. a remodel program or a new ad campaign).  However, by actually implementing the program with a small subset of stores, employees, or customers prior to broader rollout, executives can understand the true cause-and-effect impact of each decision. Click here to read the full article.

APT President and COO Patrick O’Reilly presented on a panel at the NACS Show, along with Joe Venezia, SVP Operations at The Pantry, on how leading convenience retailers are leveraging their Big Data to drive actionable and profitable business decisions.  The hundreds of attendees learned how in-market testing can be used to understand the true incremental impact of each decision (e.g. new promotions, merchandise resets, capital expenditures, etc.).  Additionally, Venezia highlighted how the Pantry, working with APT, has been able to derive additional value from using transaction-level and customer-level data to understand how to tailor different initiatives for maximum impact.

“The problem is that c-stores operate in a noisy environment,” O’Reilly said. “You’re trying to find a 1% comp gain–which is good for an industry [comparison]–but that’s amid a 20% plus or minus [average shift].  That said, O’Reilly believed that analytical steps using the proper number of control and test stores could mitigate the shifts and lead to concrete results, answers that can validate a retailer’s gut instinct or persuade him or her to pursue another direction.”

Click here to read the full article.

Read more about how leading retailers are optimizing business decision making through in market tests.

How are Convenience Retailers Optimizing Fuel Pricing?

September 17th, 2013 | Posted by DSchreff in Grocery/Convenience - (Comments Off)

APT VP Marek Polonski discusses how leading convenience retailers are leveraging in-market tests to optimize fuel pricing, through initiatives such as increasing the spread between regular and premium grades.

APT CEO featured on Bloomberg TV

August 30th, 2013 | Posted by DSchreff in Grocery/Convenience | Manufacturing | Retail - (Comments Off)

In a recent interview on Bloomberg Television, Anthony Bruce, co-founder and CEO of APT, discusses how Big Data is reshaping business strategies across industries.

APT President Patrick O’Reilly discusses how the explosion of data and new media channels has provided an opportunity for consumer products companies to target and tailor their media strategy to drive better returns.

The recession may be over, but the American consumer doesn’t know that yet. Even as the economy improves, spending habits acquired during the recession are sticking. A recent survey, reported in Time Magazine, found that more than half of respondents are saving more, reducing debt, and building an emergency fund. A National Retail Federation survey similarly found that since the payroll tax break expired at the end of 2012, consumers are spending less overall, dining out less, limiting travel, and reducing energy use. All of these changes point to the fact that consumers are still looking for value in today’s retail economy.

Millennials, the cohort that has grown up in an era of economic uncertainty, increased frequency of recessions, and lingering difficulties, have acquired value-oriented spending habits too. Nearly half of millennials will “go out of their way to shop at stores offering rewards programs,” according to a recent study. 56% are willing to switch brands for a promotion, and 63% have purchased off-brands to take advantage of a sale or promotion.

As millennials continue to comprise a larger percentage of the American consumer market, and older generations change spending habits to save more, spend less, many retailers are asking themselves, “What is value, and how do I deliver it for my customers?”

The challenge of answering this question and attracting value-conscious consumers is by no means a simple one. For example, J.C. Penney overhauled their pricing strategy in the name of delivering value for their customers. Then CEO, Ron Johnson, announced that he would simplify their pricing strategy to deliver Every Day Low Prices (EDLP). He slashed prices and got rid of sales and promotions. However, customers abandoned the retailer, sending shares nose-diving and same-store sales down 25% in less than a year. Within a year of the change, promotions were back, and Ron Johnson was out. The lesson taught the retail community that there are multiple approaches to “delivering value” and it is difficult to predict how value shoppers will react to pricing changes.

In a recent Progressive Grocer article regarding the Kroger/Harris Teeter deal, APT CEO Anthony Bruce discusses the importance of testing business decisions prior to broad roll-out: “Kroger and Harris Teeter are both known for continually introducing innovations to drive growth. The challenge going forward is that some of the programs that may have been successful in one banner may not have the same impact on the other. For example, what worked in Kroger stores may work well (or not at all) at Harris Teeter, given differences in geographies, customers and brand positioning.” Post-merger, Bruce said, it will be critical “to systematically test new ideas prior to broad rollout to de-risk innovation and allow for optimal targeting and tailoring.”  Click here to read the full article.