Announcing the Dinner

Thought Leadership Dinner On Customer-Centric Merchandising and Category Management

In the wake of latest industry events including Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods and its impact on retail, the Research division of Ensemble IQ is hosting an exclusive thought leadership dinner for a select group of executives

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Is Digital Transformation working in the Path-To-Purchase Journey? – Part 1

It is a well known fact that the emergence of online shopping has drastically changed the way we shop and besides brick and mortal stores, online shopping plays a very important role for every brand…..

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Point of View

Lamps Plus : A Case Study-Led Approach to PLM Success

This report entails some key insights from the conversation between EKN’s principal analyst & CFO of a leading lighting retailer operating in US……

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2016 Wrap-Up & 2017 Retail Industry Outlook

While 2016 was a pretty good year for US retail, for most retailers a repeat of 2016 growth will be not be easy replicate in 2017. After all, it is a transition year and as new economic and fiscal policies get activated….

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Point of View

The changing role of the store: Is your workforce ready?

Due to rapidly changing role of store on account of advent of disruptive digital technologies, retailers are contemplating or implementing store transformations and finding themselves in a tough spot….

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Omni-channel Customer Intelligence, Journeys & Engagement for Retailers

Amazon, Walmart, Kroger, Carrefour, Aldi, Target or not, retailers know that both current and future retail business survival is intricately tied to understanding and responding to shopper or customer evolution in agile and innovative ways. New age customer engagement is now entering the realm of precision Omni-channel marketing. Retailers need to stay updated with these solutions to ensure effective personalized customer engagement. Download Full...

Foundation for Digital Transformation

Consumer expectations for applications, digital solutions and networking systems initiatives within retail are constantly evolving and present a unique set of challenges and opportunities for cutting-edge retailers. Download this e-Book presented by EIQ Research and Infovista and discover how investing in backend firepower allows retailers to meet changing shopper demands and power their digital transformation. Download Full...

Changing the In-Store Experience Forever

Strategic Product Marketing Executive of Infovista Network Performance Solutions, Ricardo Belmar, discusses digital transformation in retail and how it is changing the in-store customer experience highlighted with some industry examples. Download Full...

Competing in the Age of Amazon – Profitable Category Diversification & Expansion Leveraging Customer Insight

A closer look at the category management process of Amazon reveals the customer-centric approach they have adopted while efficiently planning the category development process. This ebook discusses how retailers and suppliers have the opportunity to tap into this category development and optimization opportunity window and emerge as the leaders in their respective categories and markets. Download Full...

Strategies for agile, profitable and secure omnichannel execution

The surge in omnichannel commerce has redefined the way retailers interact with customers. In the pursuit to remain competitive and increase the customer base, retailers have mostly focused on front-end strategies to grab customer attention.However, of late, they have also realized the importance of an integrated order fulfillment and secure back-end process for seamless omnichannel execution.This report entails the various strategies that aid them to do so. Download Full...


Cashierless Stores & Futuristic Experience Can Have a Big Impact But..

This past week Amazon finally went live with Amazon Go- a cashierless convenience store concept, and several other retailers including Kroger announced that they are about to launch similar cashierless and other innovative store concepts. In order deliberate upon these market developments, on January 27th 2018, EnsembleIQ analysts, and representatives from American Express met a few leading retailers such as Starbucks, Price Chopper, Piggly Wiggly Midwest and a few other major food brands in Miami, FL. The objective was to discuss the business implications related to future store customer experience, cashierless stores, checkout complexities and role of payments. Some key takeaways from this share group and brainstorming session are summarized below. • While both retailers and food brands agreed that Amazon Go is disruptive, they emphasized that a few key elements must be considered by all retailers in rolling out cashierless stores and other new store concepts: 1. Retailers must accept all forms of payments including EBT within the mobile wallets 2. Training of consumers will lead to greater adoption of unique store concepts 3. Technology uptime in cashierless stores is bound to experience periodical complexities including but limited to automated checkout, as a result retailers should prepare a fall back plan to prevent customer backlash 4. New store concepts are more effective when targeted towards specific customer segments 5. Cashierless stores could save customers time if executed properly- specifically due to the time saved in terms of scanning/bagging and customers using automated mobile wallets for payments. According to a recent Ensemble IQ and Amex survey, average mobile wallet transaction time is less than 1 minute compared to an...

NRF & 2018 Innovation Trends in Retail Technology

By most counts, 2018 is not a year retail industry will see downward trajectory. Some corrections like store closures, bankruptcies or near-bankruptcies happened last year (please read my published 2017 NRF trends blog from last year here). While there may still be a few more blemishes left, this is the year that will usher continuous and unprecedented innovation in the retail industry. Up until November 2017, total US retail trade sales are up a healthy 4.2% over 2016. Non-store retail (10.2%), Gasoline stations (8.8%) and building materials and garden supplies (8.2%), Auto parts (4.9%) and furniture (4.6%) showed respectable gains. In all likelihood, when December sales figures are reported, retail sales will end up close to or over 5% comp over 2016. As of third quarter 2017, e-commerce sales were 8.4% of total retail sales. In order to kick-off 2018 in an insights-led way, outlined in this blog are a few key industry trends, strategies and solutions that can help retailers focus better, innovate and address the business challenges facing them today. The business challenges are several and can be classified into three groups: Organizational:   • Lack of internal and external collaboration; uninspired workforce; cultural conflicts between bricks and clicks teams Operational:   • Poor store execution; low product differentiation; high cost of digital orders; unpredictable store demand; pricing and promotions-related pains Customer:   • Unexciting loyalty programs; inaccurate segmentation; wishy-washy personalization; lack of actionable customer insights The question remains why outside of a complete lack of investible capital and executive leadership are most retailers delaying or postponing bringing a customer-led and a balanced innovation approach to the forefront? In...

Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) the most feared technology?

When it comes to retail, AI is showing signs of bringing positive disruption to the retail sector by improving the efficiency to analyze shopper demographic data, order delivery times and customer service. It is predicted that by 2020 and beyond, 85% of customer interactions in some form will be managed by AI applications like natural language processing (NLP) or by combining several different AI applications together. The term “artificial intelligence” is applied when a machine mimics “cognitive” functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as “learning” and “problem solving.” While traditional data mining extracts data for humans to analyze, AI draws conclusions on its own. Yet, despite the fact retail executives have revealed that AI has helped drive on average 3%-5% customer satisfaction improvements that in turn has driven sales, it is giving some retail executives goosebumps. The reason is the implicit fear associated with machines and algorithms. There are some who believe that AI-driven automation will take over core retail functions and some or many associates or employees who work very hard every day will lose their jobs at the headquarters, and especially in the stores, distribution centers and call centers. While it is natural such doubts creep in from time to time, such notions are removed from ground realities. Mckinsey did some really insightful research in 2017 to understand automation potential and wages for US jobs. Retailing is another sector with a high technical potential for automation and this applies to several innovative technologies such as AI and its machine learning, robotics and NLP applications. It is estimated that 53 percent of its activities are...




EKN is a boutique research and advisory firm focused on business-technology insights in the consumer industries of retail, consumer goods, travel and hospitality. Our goal is to fill a gap in the industry by offering prescriptive insights on topics of greatest importance to our audience, and to assist business and technology executives in discovering disruptive technologies and vendors.