Mass-market retail: using data for supply chain management in a time of crisis


At the start of the lockdown imposed by the health crisis, the general public changed its patterns of consumption. Panic buying in food shops put distributor supply chains under pressure. A mass-market retailer worked to understand this new situation using a tool that provides statistical indicators on numbers of visitors to its stores. Powerful data analysis helped manage its supply chain with flexibility during this period of unpredictability.

Unknown shopping patterns

Stores located in the center of major French cities target an urban customer base, some of whom left their main residences before the start of lockdown. One mass-market retailer saw its stores experience peaks in activity that were particularly changeable and unpredictable, both before and during lockdown.

Everything was changing very quickly: the availability of products, managing its online store, the click-and-collect service, the massive demand for deliveries, etc. The retailer wanted to measure these new shopping patterns in its stores in the Paris region and in Lyon, Marseille and Nice to understand the behavior of its customers, both new and regular, and better meet their needs.

Daily surveys delivered on the dedicated web portal, using almost-real-time data, enabled greater responsiveness in a context of constant change.


Nardjesse Miloudi, Account Manager at Orange Business

Analytics helps to understand customer flows

To adapt quickly to this new situation, the retailer called on Orange Business and its Flux Vision solution for modeling population flows. Using technical information from the operator’s mobile network, the solution provides statistical indicators for visitor numbers to a location, the length of visits, and even customer provenance and travel. Developed according to recommendations by the French data protection agency (CNIL), the solution aggregates anonymized location data in strict compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

This gave the retailer a holistic overview of its visitors and the increase and decrease in occasional shoppers associated with the so-called “COVID-19 migration” of its international tourist customers remaining in France, and enabled the collection of other information such as age range. This information can be imported into business intelligence tools used by the retailer and combined with other relevant data – from till receipts, for example – to strengthen the analysis.

Improved responsiveness in spite of shifting circumstances

Responding to this urgent request, the Orange Business teams acted within a very tight deadline: “Within five days of the customer’s request, we were able to offer a demonstration using real data,” confirms Anne-Marie Leboucher, Business Manager at Orange Business . “The customer could quickly see that the solution would provide added value with precious and sometimes unexpected data, to help manage and adapt to the challenges of supply chain management in the current context.”

Nardjesse Miloudi, Account Manager at Orange Business , adds, “Daily surveys delivered on the dedicated web portal, using almost-real-time data, enabled greater responsiveness in a context of constant change.” The retailer is now in a position to predict peak times for its customers according to catchment area and so can better steer the daily management of its points of sale, the supply chain, and planning for its teams in store.


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