Shopper Watcher’s Treasure Box

Greetings!  November brings with it the beginning of the unofficial start of the holiday season for the retail industry.   We know how interconnected the markets are globally.  With the impending elections in the US, having a wealth of resources to measure impacts on a key component, the retail sector, on an real-time basis would be a great tool to introduce to students for them to learn about the dynamics of market metrics.   Found one.  Having industry reports from a research and consulting firm surveying hundreds and thousands of customers each year could provide valuable insights to students exploring retail industry dynamics.  Got it.  Being able to access industry tools and resources for faulty and students to use in the classroom  with real data is what faculty and students both want.  This combination makes the experience relevant and meaningful.  It’s here.  So with that introduction and other retail  treasures to explore, let’s begin…

IBM Watson Trend Hub

The IBM Watson Trend Hub has US retail data running live with drill down capabilities across key metrics. This enables students to be able to identify shifts,  monitor performance and assess outcomes.  Take a look at the real-time snap-shot to see the breath of data and details available (


Retail Case Studies

Being able to go through the examples of how the retail market has changed and continue to leverage technology makes the experiences have more of an impact in the classroom (physical or virtual).  These case studies are examples many of us have already experienced.   Some of the other use  cases are fairly unknown.  They provide a basis for students to build the new case studies of the future.   Here is one example, one of my favorites, giving insight into the range of businesses and industries covered in the case studies:lindt-pic

16 Global Retail Trends for 2016 Deborah Weinswig, Executive Director FBIC Global Retail and Technology

The update on 16 Global Retail Trends provides good insights into market changes that may not be evident as reports focus in some consistent themes.    From the second hand on-line explosion to the freedom for families in China being allowed to have two children to Altheleisure (looks like this is a market that my 217 health plan has walked me straight into), one of the key trends discussed is the Silver Economy and here is one of the summaries of Deborah Weinswig’s view on this point as to why this is a key market to pursue aggressively:



IBM Institute for Business Value:  Ready to Engage Tomorrow’s Shoppers

As shoppers have moved from expecting personalized experiences to as I heard at a recent conference, “the last best experience is now the bar for the next (retail) experience.”   With this expectation brick and click retailers are facing challenges now that they are attracting this type of consumer.  The challenge is how to deliver the level of customer satisfaction they expect.   This is a market in transition compared to tradition digital pure play retailers and the stakes are high.  This chart provides a viewpoint from those surveyed as to the struggle bricks and click retailers are fast working to overcome:


Kiplinger’s 2016 Holiday Sales to Top Last Year’s

Kiplinger’s latest forecast on retail sales and consumer spending

“Car dealerships and gas station owners posted solid gains in September, as did sellers of building materials, garden supplies, sporting goods and furniture. Compared with last year, nonstore retailers (which include online sellers) clocked in double-digit growth. ”  Here is a economic outlook summary from Lisa Elaine Babb that gives a retail outlook for 2016 an 2017 in the context of other key market indicators linked to spending.


The Consumer is the Channel

The content on this site is explosive in what is summarized.   I wanted to include the video of Stephen Laughlin, IBM GM Consumer Industry,  who has consistently been a trusted industry voice.   I recommend everyone watch his 2 minute video in the above link for his summarized view of the consumer industry and the shift taking place with the ankle biters.  Then as you go through the resources available on this website the vast amount of expertise summarized makes it a must bookmark page. global-customer-experience-pic


IBM Academic Initiative University of Arkansas Retail Data Sets

As students and faculty work to get their hands on big data in the retail space, one of the best keep treasures is the IBM Academic Initiative University of Arkansas retail data sets provided by Sam’s Club, Tyson Foods, Dillards, Axiom and others.  University of Arkansas Dr David Douglas continues to work with these major clients to refresh the datasets on a regular basis.  Having real large dataset down to the store level for students to get hands on experience is indeed a treasure for faculty and students to take advantage of with this link.  Thank you Dr. Douglas!


IBM Academic Initiative Commerce

Once you begin exploring the new IBM Academic Initiative OnTheHub site consider investigating the assets in the Commerce Tab which has resources for faculty to leverage including the IBM Digital Analytics cloud.   Here is a snapshot of the Commerce assets.  Faculty and students  will find a range of resources including cloud access, courses and software.     Specific assets range in function from  being able to analyzing performance data in IBM Digital Analytics to utilizing tools for the development and deployment of optimization models.



For reference here are some of the courseware modules available to faculty to help in bringing this content into the classroom through using


This space continues to change at a rapid pace.  The options available on smartphones, tablets, laptops and watches makes this a season ready for smart retailers to know their customer’s better than the customer’s know themselves.  I am a perfect example of the key trend on Altheleisure since to keep on my 217 (2 miles fast walking, 1 breakfast, 7 miles indoor biking) plan I bought all the stuff I needed to stick with the plan in the suburbs of Chicago in winter but then found myself on the first day of November searching for my walking shorts.  But living in Chicago makes that is a good problem to have!


Valinda Kennedy

LinkedIn:  Valinda Kennedy

Twitter:  @vscarbro




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