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By Yonatan Olsha, Managing Director of EMEA, Profitect

By traditional standards, the world of retail considers the period between Black Friday and Christmas Day to be the sweet spot of profiteering. Despite the fact that retailers have extended the Winter holiday season to begin as early as Nov. 1, the pervading mentality is that businesses must emphasize end-of-year milestones in order to bring in the most customers. This means hiring additional temporary staff, overstocking inventory and investing in new advertising/media campaigns to stand out in an already crowded field.

This disproportionate emphasis, however, means that many retailers are overlooking a potentially massive seasonal opportunity: autumn. What many do not realize is that between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, there are consistent opportunities to engage with customers to achieve similar results as the December buying period.

Take Halloween, for example. According to recent research conducted by the National Retail Federation, in the United States Halloween spending was projected to reach $8.4 billion, the highest amount in 11 years. But take into account the start of football season, which draws in an average of 20 million viewers per game, and that pre-Thanksgiving November spending has been steadily rising since the Great Recession -- it creates a perfect environment for retailers to jump in and leverage these events for increased profits. 

The key is prescriptive analytics. As buying behaviors change to reflect real world events -- say an increase of coolers on Saturdays before football games or a particular item selling out quickly in the weeks before Halloween -- prescriptive analytics has the ability to not only recognize these patterns immediately, but provide a recommended action to best maximize the outcome of it. The way prescriptive works, and also differs from other analytics solutions, is that it analyzes detailed level data in real time and can flag these trends in layman’s terms to the right person. There’s no need for separate talent to translate the reports; the store manager simply receives a mobile notification that “X-action" will benefit the store $Y.

What is most attractive about prescriptive analytics, especially for retailers, during autumn is its flexibility. Holiday trends take hold on a near monthly basis between back-to-school, football, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, and often retailers are forced to scramble to keep up. Prescriptive analytics enables a new type of proactive approach -- one that allows managers to focus on improving key customer experiences, which is arguably the most important element of their job description, rather than administrative tasks. Or worse, translating data reports while possibly missing out on opportunity.

Due to the sluggishness of the summer months, retailers are under the impression that through the holiday season, the final weeks of the year are their only saving grace. However, by investing intelligently in technologies -- which can raise profit not only during autumn, but during any season -- they avoid tension of end-of-year quotas and create a higher, more consistent profitability 365 days a year.

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