New JDA/EKN Research Study Reveals Lack of Customer Centricity and Lagging Merchandising Execution Are Key Obstacles to Retail Profitability

A recent survey of retail executives reveals the secret to omni-channel success: leveraging data to increase customer focus and always deliver on promises

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.--()--JDA Software Group, Inc. has announced the results of a recent survey of 60 retail executives, conducted with research firm EKN. The survey, titled “Merchandising 3.0: Why Retailers Need to Find the Perfect Blend of Art + Science to be Relevant to Shoppers,” reveals the pressing challenges retailers face as they move from omni-channel toward true customer-centric, highly localized and personalized shopping experiences. Chief among these challenges are a lack of customer focus, disconnects created by functional boundaries and a lack of meaningful analysis of all the data that’s available to retailers in today’s Digital Age.

“What we’ve discovered over the course of talking with retail executives is that traditional omni-channel strategies are no longer enough to remain competitive — and retailers are beginning to rethink their foundational method to merchandising. Retailers require an entirely new approach to retail planning that uses historical buying behaviors to predict performance, leveraging intelligent, powerful, data science scoring and analytics,” said Anand Medepalli, vice president of retail planning product strategy, JDA. “Omni-channel has dictated more than ever what we already know: it is all about the customer. Successful retailers are rethinking every aspect of their business models to create customer focus.”

Gaurav Pant, senior vice president research and principal analyst of EKN Research, concurred. “Companies that are focused on internal product strategies or disconnected functional plans are losing ground to retailers that are more aligned around understanding and meeting customer needs,” he said. “While every company today has huge volumes of customer data, most retailers recognize that they are not fully capitalizing on that information, and they have plans to significantly increase their analytics capabilities.”

Customer Focus: An Omni-channel Imperative

In today’s global, omni-channel retail environment, meeting customer needs with highly localized and personalized offerings is universally recognized as the key to remaining competitive and increasing profitability. When asked about their own organization’s greatest obstacles to achieving customer-centricity, 53 percent of retail executives reported that their business culture is focused on products, not customers (tweet this).

Traditional functional boundaries also play a role. Thirty-two percent of executives reported that their company’s siloed organizational structure stands in the way of aligning the business around the shared priority of satisfying customer needs (tweet this).

How are retailers planning to overcome these challenges? The JDA/EKN survey responses suggest that retailers are in the process of redefining their organizational structure in light of today’s market realities. While only 8 percent of respondents’ executive teams currently include a chief omni-channel officer, 73 percent intend to create this position within the next two years (tweet this). A full 53 percent of retailers surveyed already have a chief customer experience officer on staff — and another 39 percent will fill this position by 2018 (tweet this).

In addition, a whopping 82 percent of retailers will focus on improving the in-store shopping experience for consumers over the next two years (tweet this).

“Our study revealed what we’re seeing every day as we work with customers,” noted Medepalli of JDA. “The old ways of organizing the enterprise — around products and around functional teams — are being replaced with a new external focus on the customers who actually determine the success of the business. By beginning with market needs — and a satisfying shopping experience — as clear starting points, retailers can increase their chances of selling products at a profit.”

Bringing Analytics to the Forefront

How can retailers increase their understanding of customer needs, so they can get the shopping experience and the product mix right? A majority of participants in the JDA/EKN study acknowledged the critical importance of data and analytics for this purpose.

Fifty-one percent of executives named customer profiling and analysis as a top area of focus for the next year. Yet 20 percent cited a lack of analytics talent within their company as a primary challenge (tweet this). EKN also finds that less than 20 percent of retailers employ a data scientist today.

Another issue may be that organizations lack the right analytics tools for sorting through their huge volumes of customer data. Fifty-five percent of respondents cited “limited reporting” as a chief shortcoming of their company’s current retail planning system (tweet this). While analytics and reporting software continues to make rapid, significant improvements in its functionality, only 37 percent of retailers have upgraded their retail planning technology in the last three years (tweet this).

“Retailers are clearly struggling to translate their enormous amounts of customer data into actionable insights that drive higher sales and profits — yet they are not leveraging emerging technology that’s been designed specifically for this task. This is precisely why we re-imagined retail planning from the ground up and introduced JDA, bringing the art and science of retail planning together, enabling retailers to connect product selection, ranging and buying decisions with customers through big data intelligence,” noted Medepalli of JDA. “As more and more retailers leverage JDA, we’re going to see a meaningful improvement in their ability to plan effective promotions, optimize pricing, offer personalized product assortments and service, and otherwise target real-world shopper needs.”

About the Study

“Merchandising 3.0: Why Retailers Need to Find the Perfect Blend of Art + Science to be Relevant to Shoppers” is the result of a survey of 60 U.S. merchandising executives conducted by EKN and JDA in September 2016. Forty-two respondents represented the soft lines sector, while 18 were employed by hard lines retailers. Their companies’ revenues ranged from $100 million to over $5 billion U.S.. For a full copy of the report, please visit this landing page.

Is your retail planning system ready to deliver on modern retail requirements? Take the EKN & JDA QuickScan to benchmark your merchandising strategy against the competition.

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About JDA Software Group, Inc.

JDA Software is the leading provider of seamless supply chain planning and execution solutions for retailers, manufacturers, logistics providers and wholesale distributors. Our unmatched solution portfolio enables our clients to reduce costs, increase profitability and improve visibility so they can deliver on customer promises every time. More than 4,000 global customers run JDA, including 78 of the top 100 retailers, 78 of the top 100 consumer goods companies and 8 of the top 10 3PLs. With JDA, you can plan to deliver.

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“JDA” is a trademark or registered trademark of JDA Software Group, Inc. Any trade, product or service name referenced in this document using the name “JDA” is a trademark and/or property of JDA Software Group, Inc.


JDA Software Group, Inc.
Jolene Peixoto, +1 978-475-0524
Director, Corporate Communications


JDA Software Group, Inc.
Jolene Peixoto, +1 978-475-0524
Director, Corporate Communications