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EPISODE 46: Amit Arya, DHG's Chief Data Officer, builds the case for retailers to utilize geographic footprint rationalization as part of their strategy for brick-and-mortar locations.



[0:00:09.7] JL: Welcome to today's edition of DHG's GrowthCast. I'm your host, John Locke. At DHG, our strength relies on our technical knowledge, our industry intelligence and our future focus. We understand business needs and are laser-focused on company goals. In this ever-changing world, DHG's GrowthCast provides insights and thought-provoking conversations on topics and trends that address growth opportunities and challenges in the current and future marketplace.

Thanks for joining us as we discuss tomorrow's needs today.

[0:00:42.3] ANNOUNCER: The views and concepts expressed by today's panelists are their own and not those of Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP. Always consult the advice of your legal and financial professional before taking any action.


[00:00:58] JL: Today, I will be talking with Amit Arya, Chief Data Officer of DHG. Amit oversees the firm's data and analytic strategy and provides guidance on data centric decisions and how to enhance firmwide operations. Thanks for joining me today, Amit.

[00:01:13] AA: Happy to be here, John.

[00:01:16] JL: So even before COVID-19 hit, Amit, there was already an increasing trend of retail shopping being done online instead of in stores. And now with the prevalence of COVID-19 and the physical distancing that goes with it, foot traffic into brick and mortar stores is lower than ever.

Amit, how do you see this mass migration to digital channels impacting retailers?

[00:01:42] AA: Well, John, optimization of business processes has always been the goal of businesses. An immediate concern initiall, is the geographic footprint rationalization. Rationalization itself refers to the reorganization for company's operations with the goal of improving efficiency. This can mean several different things like restructuring personnel, changing your strategy, or in this particular case, decreasing the amount of physical real estate a company owns.

Now, of course, many retailers have increased options for customers like home delivery, curbside pickup, and buy online and pick up in store options. And they're finding ways to limit physical contact with customers due to this contagion risk that COVID has posed. But for many, these options might not be enough. And a closer look at how well the brick and mortar locations are being utilized, may be necessary. And because of this, it is important now more than ever, that retailers look at their data to gain insights into their product, customer locations, and the utilization of their brick and mortar assets to maintain productivity.

[00:03:04] JL: So, Amit, how urgent is it that retailers make these decisions?

[00:03:09] AA: Well, given the current economic environment, it is important now more than ever, to take stock of fear a firm's stance for their geographic rationalization strategy. Unfortunately, a lot of retailers across the country will be faced with these decisions in the near future, or perhaps already contemplating rich brick and mortar locations make an economically and an optimal return on investment decision. Having insights into the customer and their location data will really help companies make data driven decisions to rationalize their business operations and emerge stronger from this COVID pandemic, if you will.

[00:04:00] JL: So, Amit, what types of data should retailers be on the lookout for?

[00:04:05] AA: Well, John, paying attention to operational characteristics of the business is vital. So, the data sets that retailers should look closely at definitely includes customers, locations, as well as products because they form the holy trinity of how retail operation is run. In addition, looking at the backend, operating metrics, like staffing, foot traffic, during times of day, times of fee, et cetera, will be really valuable for retailers. And just understanding the customer interaction and customer behavior around curbside pickup versus delivery can really help retailers identify innovative growth opportunities in their business. As an example, leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning can really improve backend office functionality and give the retailers the agility they need to automate certain operational functions, or tasks, or even provide insights into a more personalized and strategic marketing campaign for customers, thereby helping retailers develop the best possible strategy for geographic footprint rationalization.

An investment into an analytic platform can really help retailers identify and understand market trends, changes in customers tastes and behaviors, thereby helping them develop foresight into the future, to make qualitative risk assessments at a granular geographic level.

[00:05:44] JL: Yeah, very interesting. I'm just curious, are there specific technologies that you would recommend, Amit, to the retailers who are listening to us today,

[00:05:55] AA: Well, we live in a time where we all have a variety of options at our disposal to foray into building any analytical platform, if you will. What I would recommend would be to work with a third-party service provider to assess how to best manage the infrastructure cost. And besides that, look into optimal wireless connectivity, which is now a basic necessity in our society these days in addition to exploring cloud capabilities and data solutions, that will help all retailers operate at peak performance levels.

[00:06:36] JL: Well, great advice. And, Amit, as always, thank you for sharing your insights today with our listeners. And I know there'll be a lot of valuable takeaways for those who joined us today. Thanks for your time.

[00:06:49] AA: Much thanks for having me, John. Thank you.

End of Interview

[00:06:51] JL: Thank each of you today for joining us on DHG GrowthCast. You've been listening to DHG's, Amit Arya, Chief Data Officer, and we hope that you now have gained new insights into how data analytics can assist retailers analyze customer data to assess their geographic footprint and make better operational decisions.

I'm your host, John Locke, and I look forward to reconnecting with you soon on another episode of DHG GrowthCast.

End of Episode

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