A grocery store associate looks at alerts on his enterprise-grade handheld mobile computer
By Guy Yehiav | June 30, 2020

In Just Twelve Months, Prescriptive Analytics Has Helped Retailers Avert Numerous Fraud Incidents and Navigate One Huge Worldwide Pandemic

We’re thrilled that Zebra’s acquisition and integration of Profitect has proven so beneficial to retail and grocery customers in challenging times.

I can’t believe it has already been one year since Zebra acquired Profitect!

The Zebra Prescriptive Analytics team has done so much since June 2019 to accelerate the addition of Profitect’s prescriptive analytics solution to the Zebra Savanna™ platform and bring to market new capabilities that help retailers, grocers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies identify opportunities for operational and financial improvement.

Using algorithms (or "patterns" as we call them) to analyze massive volumes of data for actionable insights, the Zebra Prescriptive Analytics solution is helping retailers quickly identify and address opportunities for stronger profits, healthier margins, increased compliance, greater efficiency and more. In addition to flagging issues that negatively impact the above key performance indicators (KPIs), the solution helps our customers identify and apply beneficial behaviors that could contribute to greater profitability if rolled out on a larger scale. For example, it informs customers about where to place a particular item in a store so that it sells better, the ideal store staffing levels for specific times of day, how to increase labor productivity and how to align promotion execution to generate the greatest return on investment (ROI). After proving that these behaviors are beneficial in a few stores, the solution instructs ALL stores to apply that data in the same way, resulting in chainwide revenue growth.

During the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Zebra Prescriptive Analytics solution also gave retailers the guidance they needed to preserve operational excellence, whether they were essential retailers challenged by surging demand in stores or forced to shift to a curbside or online-only model. The solution empowered them to quickly determine what was happening in their stores, why it happened, how much it was impacting the business monetarily, what to do about it and who should do it. Retailers used prescriptive analytics to help balance inventory across locations, avoid out of stocks, enforce social distancing and sanitary practices and optimize staffing for maximum efficiency and productivity. The actionable insights it generated also enabled retailers to identify and stamp out fraud and theft.

In fact, what I truly believe makes the Zebra Prescriptive Analytics solution so much more impactful than other retail analytics solutions is its unique ability to extract insights from the data and then “prescribe” specific actions for real-time resolution. Prescriptive analytics empowers users to see and correct issues such as non-compliance before they can severely impact a retailer's ability to serve its customers or result in significant losses. Improving compliance has become even more critical for our essential retail and grocery customers over the past few months. With thousands of new associates being hired every week to meet growing demand, retailers need a way to enforce transactional compliance, prevent fraud, protect revenue integrity and increase labor and sales efficiency quite quickly.

Just watch this:

How Zebra Prescriptive Analytics Improves Compliance by Retail Employees​

Retail is a complex industry. Because of that, it’s absolutely necessary that organizations set protocols, standard operating procedures and other rules at every level of the business – and have a way to enforce them.

Non-compliance with these rules exposes retailers to a flurry of potential consequences, such as regulatory fines, consumer lawsuits, media firestorms, loss of brand loyalty and more.

Worse, many employees show little concern for their acts of non-compliance, falsely believing that one person’s actions (their own) are insignificant to their organization as a whole. What they don’t realize is that retailers fail by “death from a thousand cuts” – and any act of non-compliance, whether intentional (“I don’t care”) or unintentional (“I forgot” or “I didn’t think it was that big a deal”), can potentially ripple across the business and negatively impact profits and margins.

Fortunately, every time someone is non-compliant, a very small amount of data indicating their act is left behind – a bread crumb, if you will. The prescriptive analytics solution’s algorithms know what that data looks like and bring it to the attention of the appropriate retail managers so they can investigate the behavior and launch retraining, if necessary. To make the investigation even easier, the solution also sends CCTV footage taken at the exact time that non-compliant behavior occurred.

Here are some of the more interesting data behaviors that the Zebra Prescriptive Analytics solution has detected and alerted retailers to in the past year, as well as what type of non-compliant action that was ultimately uncovered:

  • Detected: A grocery store’s average sales for store-branded half-and-half suddenly dropped from the average benchmark for its cluster of stores per week to less than three standard deviations away from the mean.
    Discovered: A manager had forgotten to add the half-and-half’s item tag (which displays the product name, size, and price) to the shelf. The dairy clerks assumed the item had been discontinued and filled in its space with other products. The manager was retrained.
  • Detected: A grocery store saw an increase in manually processed refunds in the “non-food” category.
    Discovered: Cashiers were refunding customers’ gift cards for cash against policy. They were retrained on items that can and cannot be refunded.
  • Detected: Cashiers were entering some birthdays during the “CHECK ID” stage of alcohol and tobacco sales that appeared to be anomalies, like 11/11/11 or their own birthdays. (Some were entering the same date 15 or more times per shift!)
    Discovered: The cashiers were entering false birthdays. Some were doing it to illegally to sell alcohol and tobacco to minors. Others were simply doing it to save time. Appropriate action was taken.

Remember, these are behaviors that were not obvious to the human eye. Even the best human poring over dashboards of sales or return data may have missed these nuggets of insight. Yet, retailers were able to see and know exactly how to act in each scenario in near real time thanks to the work that was done by the Profitect and Zebra teams together to bring an advanced analytics solution to market in an easily deployable and even easier to use software application. And I couldn’t be prouder or more humbled.

Here’s to an Action-Packed Future (with Improved Compliance, Better Stocked Shelves and Perfectly-Staffed Stores)

It has truly been an honor to have been welcomed into Zebra Nation this last year, and I’m extremely grateful to Profitect and Zebra customers for their support throughout this integration period. As you can see, this collaboration benefits both Zebra and our customers, and we’re looking forward to working with retailers and grocers even closer in the coming months to further increase your ROI.

We want to ensure you’re maximizing all of the capabilities offered in this powerful prescriptive analytics solution as you work to adapt your business to meet evolving customer expectations in light of COVID-19 impacts and the continued migration to omnichannel fulfillment models.

Though prescriptive analytics is exceptionally effective in enforcing compliance, improving on-shelf availability and inventory accuracy, reducing recall risk and preventing fraud (far beyond the few examples I shared above), it makes a significantly equal impact on the performance of more routine retail operations as well. Asset protection is a 24/7/365 priority, as is the prevention of out-of-stocks, customer walkouts and customer acquisitions among many other things, as you can read about here.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to learn more about the unique benefits of prescriptive analytics, particularly compared to other retail analytics solutions, and then reach out to my team to talk about how it can be applied to your operations. We want to help you inject greater efficiency into your operations and yield vast financial gains from the intelligence generated by your data capture systems.

Inside Zebra Nation, Retail,
Guy Yehiav
Guy Yehiav

As General Manager of Zebra Analytics, Guy Yehiav is responsible for setting the organic and non-organic growth, leadership strategy, and customer success for the Zebra Analytics business unit.

Formerly CEO of Profitect, recently acquired by Zebra Technologies, and a 25-year veteran of the supply chain industry, Mr. Yehiav has held senior leadership positions at Oracle and was previously founder of Demantra US (acquired by Oracle in 2006).

Fluent in English, French, and Hebrew, Mr. Yehiav has a passion for teaching, which started with educating high-school students pro bono in his native country of Israel. He continues to teach pro bono, now as a guest lecturer on professional selling, entrepreneurship, and statistics for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Babson College.

Mr. Yehiav holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science & Industrial Management from Shenkar College of Israel and an MBA in Entrepreneurship from Babson College. He currently lives in Wellesley, Mass. with his wife, Maya, and their three daughters.

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