Brent Biddulph

General Manager, Retail & Consumer Goods, Cloudera

Brent has extensive experience working closely with a variety of leading retail and consumer goods companies providing thought leadership to help align strategic objectives with technology and analytic solutions to drive top-line growth, reduce costs, improve profits and create a differentiated competitive advantage in the marketplace.

During his career at Cloudera, Teradata and Oracle he developed solution go to market positioning, sales plays, use cases and led big data analytics consulting engagements at a number of Fortune 50 companies. Working as a trusted advisor with client executives to identify, define and capture business improvement opportunities.

Brent is known as a customer-focused advocate and innovator, leveraging his extensive domain experience in store operations, replenishment, merchandising and marketing at senior management levels in retail, distribution and consumer goods.

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  • Posted on: 06/12/2019

    Kroger is high on the CBD sales opportunity

    Consumers today are more educated and inquisitive than ever, and deep insights are at their finger tips (this is not the 19th century where "snake oils" were dependent upon ignorance) ... that correlation is just not relevant here. CBD oils are not new, nor are they a fad. This is a trend that aligns with consumer desires to source natural and organic foods and the same claims about Whole Foods and Sprouts being a retail fad a decade ago -- yet, it changed an entire industry. Opening the eyes of Baby Boomer "deniers" that their children (now consumers with wallet power) actually care about natural, organic and ethically sourced products -- and were willing to pay for it -- may be a harsh reality. Also, understanding that consumers of all ages are looking for homeopathic alternatives to pharmaceutical (man made) drugs, and the lack of responsibility they see with retail pharmacies and big pharma drug kingpins that have been pushing and fulfilling (e.g. opioids and addictions) is another side of the story here. Is CBD not worth pursuing, supporting, even regulating as an alternative to opioids? As far as branding, private labels and such that will all be sorted out by the natural economics and strength of the retailers that pay close attention to consumer preferences, trust and good old fashion brand building.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2019

    Walmart’s checkout pilot puts shoppers in the fast lane

    As a consumer, retailer efforts to-date on scan-and-go checkout have been just too complex and poorly executed in-store. I mean, did retailers really expect a consumer to stand in front of a kiosk for several minutes to watch a video + pick-up a foreign handheld device to "self-checkout" before starting their journey? C'mon, it just has to get better. Improved signage, value-added mobile app capabilities and simplified in-store messaging will be a great test!
  • Posted on: 05/31/2019

    What if unwanted online purchases didn’t have to be returned?

    Great conversation regarding the new reality, implications in digital retail, where returns of apparel goods can reach as much as 40%. Where I would typically argue "data and math," it really does come down to a strategic business decision by traditional retailers to also bolster current customer service capabilities (the "human" common sense factor). Yes, reviewing cost to return, customer LTV, returns history, etc. (to help reduce costs and prevent abuse) absolutely helps decision making process. However, at the end of the day, leaders like Amazon ARE VERY proficient, invested and skilled in balancing the data with "human" (CS) common sense. A core AMZN business strategy is after all "our vision is to be earth's most customer-centric company." As a pure play e-tailer (save WFM), what better way for Amazon to actually interact with customers than to enable the CS team with tools to exceed traditional retailer CS capabilities? A blend of "data and math" combined with investment in human capital (CS) capabilities is leading practice. If a traditional retailer falls short on either or both, returns will continue to be a challenge.
  • Posted on: 05/30/2019

    Abercrombie & Fitch CEO says ‘stores matter’ – particularly the smaller ones

    Achieving 80% customer ID, solid online growth to 30% of total sales with strong BOPIS growth (in turn, driving store traffic) is impressive, and seemingly provides a solid foundation for A&F to turn this data into meaningful business outcomes, perhaps even competitive differentiation.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2019

    Do the benefits of using facial recognition in retail outweigh the risks?

    In this one use case of CV, the point is to identify an opportunity and provide some intelligence to "engage" a customer, rather than to ignore, or stand behind a CS desk, or even provide front door "greeters" that simply provide canned and meaningless "welcome" chants at the front door (as is the brick and mortar experience today).
  • Posted on: 05/24/2019

    Do the benefits of using facial recognition in retail outweigh the risks?

    Seems there are some misconceptions about "facial recognition," or at least, the many benefits the broader AI concept of Computer Vision for Brick and Mortar Retail. The example provided in this article about detecting customer "moods" is not "facial recognition," rather, "mood detection" of anonymous people in a store at any given time. Unless the retailer has built up individual's "faces" to "match" up against, say, like potentially a mug shot from previous shoplifting events (facial recognition) -- measuring "moods" or "gestures" anonymously are in fact very promising areas to continue to explore. Tell me this. If a store/customer service manager could be provided a simple real-time prompt of nothing more than "a sad female, 39 yrs old, at entrance B" -- think that could provide retailers with competitive differentiation without piercing customer privacy? Suggest being a bit cautious here about potentially conflating facial recognition with the broader streaming video analytics. Facial recognition by itself is a relatively small value-add here in the West in comparison to the much broader topic of Computer Vision and Streaming Video Analytics -- which will be and (perhaps the most) critical component of retail stores of the future, considering the many more applications from a merchandising compliance, out-of-stock, friction-less checkout use cases that all depend on computer vision and streaming analytics. Just did a talk at Data Works Summit in Washington DC this week on the many use cases and business impact Computer Vision IS already addressing for Retail Leaders. Here's a link to the presentation if anyone's interested.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2019

    Just how big is Amazon’s ethics challenge?

    And let's not forget how lured traditional retailers like Target, Toys "R" Us and others years ago to run their e-commerce businesses, only to leverage that data to improve their own customer insights and engagement capabilities, then to ultimately weaponize against those traditional retailers in the end, setting them back years in the e-commerce, digital space. This is a ruthless adversary, propped up by AWS profits and a blind Wall Street investment community, and recently witnessed headline news and PR about "Amazon lowering prices at Whole Foods" that was pure nonsense. For those traditional retailers willing to invest in advances in data management, data science, and emerging technologies -- progress is well underway and gaps are being closed.
  • Posted on: 05/13/2019

    What’s wrong with the (fill in the blank) category?

    This is a symptom of a much broader business implication for FMCG retailers. It's not really a "category" (product) question, rather a lack of a "customer intelligence" analytic capability (proactive v. reactive) response, combined with the required in-store investment to meet changing customer tastes and preferences. From a micro space/category management standpoint, perhaps the immediate opportunity here is to catch up and provide alternative products addressing emerging attributes that customers are now looking for (e.g. grab and go breakfast, probiotics, etc.). From a macro space/customer-centric standpoint, FMCG retailers already investing in expansion of fresh space having recognized these trends, and they are carving more and more space from commodity center-store products - rather than dealing with static constrained refrigerated space.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2019

    Will Walmart’s new online pet pharmacy and vet clinics draw more pet parents?

    This play makes sense on every level, as others have already shared. And like everything else, all comes down to execution. My take on the three key elements:
    1. Online pet Rx: This will take some time to gain traction, there are trusted and entrenched competitors like and 1800PetMeds.
    2. In-store pet clinics: New pet owners with value-conscious leanings could be early adopters. For others with established vet care relationships conversion is less likely. Regardless, expanding services of any kind can become a competitive differentiator if done right.
    3. Pet food: This is perhaps the most important ingredient (besides exercise) to complete pet health. And this could be the secret to overall success for Walmart's credibility regarding a "whole health" approach to pet care. Yet, I'm not convinced they are as successful at selling the message here to "premium" pet food buyers as they could be. This could be the cornerstone of overall success across the entire sector of pet care for Walmart.
    With that said, IF as part of the 500 store remodel Walmart announced just weeks ago - they take a store-within-a-store approach to pet care with a clinic + Rx + premium foods all in ONE carve-out (read: separate entrance, look and feel), it could be amazing! Throw-in some basic grooming services to complete the experience. Now that would be a statement.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2019

    Farm Stores goes big with tiny eco-friendly drive-thrus

    Focused on addressing the growing customer demand for "fresh and fast" - this could could take-off. What I especially like about the concept is the potential flexibility that could be applied - localized assortment to meet local neighborhood needs and the fact that you could literally relocate the entire footprint with ease if necessary! The franchising model could really ignite growth, bring in a whole new crop of retail entrepreneurs, and perhaps even help address urban food deserts with fresh and affordable foods.
  • Posted on: 04/22/2019

    Is it time to push the ‘go faster’ button on cloud computing?

    In the context of "go faster," cloud computing can be economically (and strategically) sound for mature data science teams in an analytically driven company that is constantly exploring new data sources and running AB tests on large data sets in an often unpredictable manner. At the end of the day, cloud computing is an essential component to consider in the context of an enterprise data and analytics strategy that can vary widely from one retailer to another.
  • Posted on: 04/16/2019

    Will Walmart’s KIDBOX help kids look good and do good at the same time?

    Brilliant. Traditional retailers like Walmart have yet to capitalize in a meaningful way on subscription (read: predictable demand) business models. This appears to be one of those rare win-win-win scenarios, most importantly for the busy lifestyles of parents with young children. For Walmart, the ability to provide a value added service AND the ability to glean deeper customer insights from some of their most important customer segments is brilliant. Just imagine the logical extensions, recommendations, cross-sell with food, toys, school supplies, health and wellness, etc. now possible for a retailer that does not require membership nor a "loyalty" program. Walmart continues to impress!
  • Posted on: 04/15/2019

    Is Bed Bath & Beyond smart to draw the line on coupons?

    It is encouraging to hear that "we have much better analytics (capabilities);" so the presumption here is that it will be a data)driven decision, moderated and potentially in phases, with ample market testing to determine the right approach. And in some cases (or entire markets), they may find that it is best to keep the 20 percent coupons in place. If that is the approach, it makes total sense.
  • Posted on: 04/09/2019

    What are retailers and suppliers to do when caught between Amazon and Walmart?

    What seems to be missing from this conversation is central to retailers improving their COGs negotiation leverage -- DATA. Without tangible "proof of performance" (e.g. shelf price, promotion, display, customer insights) traditional retail grocers have little leverage, and frankly, have no leg to stand on in regard to demanding better COGs. Walmart understood (and proved) this years ago, creating Retail Link to enable CPGs access to item, store, day sales in <15 minute increments. By doing so, they provided "value add" to their suppliers, and ultimately were able to push retail execution and fulfillment responsibilities down to their supplier partners -- thus creating a competitive advantage via supply chain excellence still unmatched today. Recently, Amazon, Boxed and other disrupters are offering this "proof of performance" data and something of even more/equal value -- customer insight data to their CPG partners. The Robinson Patman Act is outdated and simply addresses landed COGs based upon volume; easy enough to work around this static "list price" with layered promotions, pricing schemes or other value added services. Bottom Line: for traditional FMCG retailers to improve their COGs, suggest revisiting outdated "vendor collaboration" models (mostly based upon penalties) and infuse valuable data and insights (in real-time) that their suppliers are seeking and NOW getting from new, alternative, retail channel partners (like Amazon, BOXED, Chewy, etc.) that are better aligned with their own DTC corporate objectives.
  • Posted on: 04/05/2019

    Will Amazon, CVS or Walgreens win the speedy Rx delivery race?

    CVS and Walgreens have no choice but to keep improving RX delivery capabilities (and reducing delivery fees). They have established trust with patients over decades on perhaps the most personal of consumer products. However, it is a delicate balance when competing against free delivery of Rx at the risk of having no front of store attachment items to help subsidize the order. Leveraging partner delivery networks (and expanded assortment) is smart, as CVS+Target+Shipt could prove to be very beneficial to both partners.

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