Robert’s CEO Corner Office Visit: Vish Canaran of Liquid Analytics
I had the privilege of meeting with Vish Canaran, President and CEO of Liquid Analytics, in San Francisco recently to discuss how predictive analytic applications will change the world of wholesale distribution. Here is a brief write up of the meeting:
Robert: I have the privilege of conducting my first corner office chat with Vish Canaran, President and CEO of Liquid Analytics. We’re going to talk about how predictive analytics will change wholsesale distribution and improve customer service. To queue it up, lets talk about the current customer experience and your area of focus.
Vish: We’re focused on the wholesale distribution space. This means anybody selling into retail. For example someone who is a wholesale distributor or someone who manufactures and builds their own products but they don’t sell direct — they sell through retailers.
So where most of these people are coming from is laptop based applications. One of the challenges with a laptop is that it’s very hard to open up a laptop and walk around a store.
So the first this is, how does the device that you have actually empower your user. The natural progression is that everything will be mobile. We can take the existing data and put it onto the iPad. But the iPad is no PC. And people don’t want just their data. They are still asking “what does this data mean”?
Robert: So what you are saying is that the mobility piece, in and of itself, is only the beginning.
Vish: Right, and our goal at Liquid Analytics is to enhance and empower the customer experience with predictive analytics.
Robert: Where do you see the market going next?
Vish: One of the places I see the market going, and what Liquid is already doing, is to transform the rep from a transactional order taker, to a trusted market advisor.
Lets take it back 10 years ago, I went into a store with a catalog the size of a Sears Roebuck catalogue of 20,000 products. Then they had their laptop with the electronic catalog. I can put that catalogue on an iPad and spend 20 minutes sifting through that catalogue, but that is still wasting time.
What we do is look at thinks like depletion rates, account marketing attributes, what needs to be restocked, and when. I can tell you that if you’re a white table-clothed Italian restaurant with bulletproof glass, I can show you the exact 34 products best suited for you today with quantity and price.
So I can do a predictive order that can be completed in 90 seconds to three minutes.
The impact is that the rep can still be there for 20 minutes but now I can focus the rest of my time working with the retail manager on displays and promotions, helping with rich text media and videos. This will help them sell the products they are carrying.
Robert: Are you offering predictive for products they already carry or brand new products they haven’t even thought about before?
Vish: First, our algorithms look at depletion rates of products they have already bought. So we give recommendation as to when to restock a shelf.
And you want to go in at the right time. If you go in too early they say they cannot keep any more inventory especially if they’re a really small store. If you go in too late then someone else has already taken your place.
The second part is as I mentioned – take the white table-clothed Italian restaurant with bulletproof glass example – if I look across my channel and across my demographic and find out that these types of restaurants have been 95% successful with specific products, then I can upsell these products that they don’t currently have.
And lastly, my supplier defines goals. My supplier may say you need to sell these certain products. They may be seasonal (Christmas), localized or event-based (Superbowl) which will guide the recommendations. I will also recommend products that have higher margin.
Also keep in mind that a lot of these mom and pop stores have a hard time surviving. They put their entire life savings into a certain location, and if it was a strategic location they would have had a 7-11 in there already. So these stores need our help, and we can help they to understand their demographic. We pull in social media to say that given your demographic this is the signage you need to attract your customers.
Robert: So what’s up with the bullet proof glass Italian restaurant? Does that mean the wine is cheap?
Vish: Well at least you know it’s safe.
Robert: Thank you Vish and I look forward to continuing this discussion.