SAS Expands Its Retail Offerings

Analytics developer SAS Institute this week unveiled plans to beef up its presence in the retail industry via the creation of new software solutions, along with the formation of two new units. Part of the company's expansion includes a new global retail-business practice and a new retail industry sales-and-professional services unit. Officials at the company say these moves represent a natural progression for SAS, following its acquisition of retail applications maker Marketmax in October 2003. Leading the new retail business unit will be Lori Schafer, the former CEO and president of Marketmax. The practice will work with retail customers around the globe, including those in the Americas, Europe, and Asia/Pacific. Gene Gsell, former chief marketing and sales officer at Marketmax, will lead a new U.S. retail-sales unit. The retail landscape comprises a variety of retailers competing for a customers' business by constantly altering the merchandising mix while differentiating themselves from competitors. The speed at which decisions must be made, along with the difficult market conditions of the current economy, means that the cost of failure is enormous. Success in this competitive world depends on attracting and retaining the most profitable customers, according to industry-watchers. SAS officials say that understanding cross-channel customer-buying habits is critical to every merchandising decision, from selecting the assortment to pricing, promotion, forecasting sales, placement, and replenishment of products. In addition to retail merchandising intelligence and customer intelligence, SAS has an eye on the retail revenue management space, also known as price optimization. SAS plans to deliver by the end of the year the first of three software programs that address pricing. That includes a variety of pricing issues, including regular pricing, promotional pricing, and markdown pricing. SAS will also deliver a set of retail intelligence solutions in early 2004 to round out its existing product offerings. Packaged applications and consulting services will address the areas of customer insight; supply chain cost transparency, promotional effectiveness, and overall score-carding. SAS's intelligence solutions are designed to give users retail-specific data models, logical models, and metadata, and business rules based on industry standards. SAS's decision to expand further into the retail sector has so far paid off. The company claims that its software revenue from that sector grew by 23 percent in 2003.
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