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Customer Stories

 

Winning hearts and minds

Sobeys Inc. puts customer focus first with SAS® for grocery analytics

For a national grocer operating in such a geographically and ethnically diverse country as Canada, taking a local neighborhood approach to providing the right products, to the right customers, in the right place is a sure way to win hearts and minds – and gain a competitive advantage over big-box stores that are slowly eating into the market share of traditional grocery retailers.

One of only two national grocery retailers in Canada, Sobeys Inc. – with more than 1,300 stores in 10 provinces, operating under the banners of Sobeys, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Price Chopper and Thrifty Foods – is using SAS® for grocery analytics to help deliver on its commitment to offer the right products, in the right stores, across multiple banners, for each individual market it serves.

Getting to know the customer
"Customer insight and intimacy is one of Sobeys' strategic pillars," says Clinton Keay, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer. "With SAS Analytics we can understand who our key customers are, as well as understand the different types of customer we have by individual market. We're a locally driven organization, with resources dedicated to providing customer service that is tailored to the markets they serve. Unless you can get it down to the operations of the individual store level, it's not going to add any value."

"We can help each store use information to create customer intimacy through one-to-one contact," adds Dave Eddy, Director of Decision Support Systems. "Customer insight allows Sobeys to recognize loyal shoppers , and helps us provide better offerings to our customers so that they're happy with their shopping experience".

Unique approach to the market
This customer-focused strategy has served Sobeys well since its inception a century ago in Stellarton, Nova Scotia. In the last 25 years alone, this leading Canadian grocer has expanded its presence outside of Atlantic Canada to become a CAD $15.8 billion national brand.

  
Dave Eddy
Director of Decision Support Systems
 

Loyal customers
To increase its level of customer service, satisfaction and profitability, the grocer is also using analytics to analyze customer data derived from its  loyalty card programs.

“One thing we use SAS for is to generate the insight that informs better one-to-one communications,” explains Eddy.  We’re tailoring offers directly to shoppers based on their purchase history, which has increased the effectiveness  of communications sent out by the marketing department.”

Integrated retail analytics
Along with Sobeys' phenomenal growth over the years came a vast amount of customer and business data, which the grocer needed to harness together to support a variety of analytical applications, such as customer insight, pricing and promotion optimization, and merchandise intelligence.

"We can now manage data in one location for more consistency, which supports better decisions at the store level," says Keay. "In retail, there are a number of areas you have to focus on, such as merchandising, the supply chain and store operations. You need to look at everything holistically, so having all the data available to make the decisions that will improve customer focus is key; customer first and then you can succeed."

Strategic analytics partner
According to Keay, taking an integrated approach, with a strategically aligned software partner, is critical to successfully building a retail analytics foundation.

"We were looking for a strategic business analytics partner that could provide us with an integrated suite of tools to manage and analyze data from multiple sources, such as our merchandising, point of sales and logistics systems," explains Keay. "We have to make sure the pricing and promotion optimization engines are linked with our customer insight foundation. SAS is the integrator that helps pull this all together. So rather than just looking at the science of pricing in isolation, we can make more informed pricing decisions for our customers in the markets we serve.

"Our goal is to be widely recognized as the best food retailer in Canada," Keay concludes. "In order to achieve that, we need strategic partners to support us in that goal. SAS is one of those key strategic partners, providing our users with the tools to do their jobs well."

Copyright © SAS Institute Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Clinton Keay 
Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Sobeys Inc.

Business Issue:

Sobeys seeks to put its customers first and leverages advanced retail analytics and data integration to gain actionable customer insight and continue to build customer relationships, loyalty, and drive results. 

Benefits:

Using SAS, Sobeys has a complete view of its business and customer data, allowing the grocer to use analytics to offer the right products, in the right stores, for each individual market it serves, as well as target loyal customers with one-to-one communications.

Our goal  is to be widely recognized as the  best food retailer in Canada. In order to achieve that, we need strategic partners to support us in that goal. SAS is one of those strategic partners, providing our users with the tools to do their jobs well.

Clinton Keay

Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Sobeys

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This story appears in the 
First Quarter 2012 issue of

sascom Magazine