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: 08/12/2019

    Does North Face’s new concept point the chain in the right direction?

    My assumption with this Soho store is that like so many other retailers, this represents creativity and concept "testing" at the highest level, but does not suggest this is a cookie cutter approach for all other locations. For large urban/destination cities, elements of this storytelling are fantastic for being incorporated and perpetuating the brand image. In suburban locations, adapting elements (not static museums) for windows or departmental season themes tied to merchandising and marketing activities makes a lot of sense. Either way, the use of the word "museum" implies "static" or "forever," which I do not believe represents what The North Face is testing at a single store in Soho. In regard to a potential chain-wide rollout of the same to all stores (urban and suburban), The North Face is likely to tailor and adapt as circumstances demand, driven by local customer insights and analytics that will also evolve over time.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2019

    Is private equity ownership killing retail?

    A lack of vision leveraging data and analytics is thinning the herd in retail - at an accelerated rate. The demise of retail brands in recent years rests at the feet of the C-suite that made poor investment decisions and/or waited too long to take corrective actions to evolve more rapidly to meet changing consumer expectations, aka "digital transformation." When the PE firms had to be called in, it was an inevitable outcome - extract remaining value from an already dying brand.
  • Posted on: 07/17/2019

    Alexa – Are Americans ready to shop by voice?

    The ability for smart speakers to better interact with screens may likely be the acceleration that allows it to move beyond simply an entertainment device to an actual shopping enabler. It allows customers to overcome any uncertainties by being actually able to "see" products and pricing before giving the "order" command. Especially for basics and commodity goods that could be prompted by AI infused "auto-replenishment" nudges.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2019

    Is Nordstrom staring at a ‘no-growth’ retail future?

    Something that analysts tend to "lose in the numbers" because, frankly, it is difficult to measure - cultural obsession on quality and customers, and reciprocal customer brand loyalty. Maybe it's something in the water there in Seattle, as some of the most beloved retail brands (Costco, Starbucks, Amazon, Nordstrom) seem to have an innate ability to not only carve out and own a retail niche, but to have the pulse on changing consumer preferences, successfully evolving along the way. I agree with the challenges outlined by the UBS analyst, but the analysis does not take into consideration activities underway to continue to adapt (e.g. Nordy Club revamp) and continuing to invest (test and learn) by leveraging data, emerging technology and AI to enhance brand image and improve the customer experiences both online and in-store beyond many traditional retail competitor capabilities.
  • Posted on: 07/03/2019

    Will a new BOPIS option boost Amazon’s results?

    At the risk of stating the obvious here -- Amazon figures out how to leverage desperate, undifferentiated traditional retail brick and mortar brands, and locations.
  • Posted on: 07/03/2019

    What does ‘patriotic’ mean for brands and retailers?

    Patriotism is neither a right nor a left political dichotomy. It is a visceral love for country, even a willingness to die on a battlefield in perceived service of a higher purpose, despite personal conflicted political purpose. From a retail or consumption standpoint Americans tend to pay much more attention to the price/value equation as the baseline, but the locally sourced, country of origin facts as the ultimate decision maker perhaps more so now, than ever before in our history. I would suggest that this is where the younger generations have moved this outdated thinking from old school singularly patriotism thinking to locally sourced, ethical, climate and socially responsible thinking that not only addresses made in America, but much more smartly recognizes and hold US manufacturers accountable beyond local production at any cost thinking. Our younger generation is taking patriotism to the the next and more tangible, responsible level of thinking.
  • Posted on: 07/02/2019

    Fashion seekers hunt for treasure in Costco’s warehouses

    As a "delighted" member since joining my local Costco store back in Portland, OR in 1985, one of the very few retailers my (now) family would agree has not only earned our loyalty, but has even become a consideration in "how far to the nearest Costco?" moves since, to Seattle and now, Dallas. Fashion is too broad a term here, in terms of apparel shopping missions (trips). I would suggest that Costco has actually reached destination trip status with many consumers in terms of Basics. You know, the undergarments that consumers naturally buy in bulk anyway (socks, undergarments) and appreciate quality, even some variety -- whether male, female, or child. Costco has now become a destination for many in the Basics -- this is the anchor, and the greatest category killer and competitive reality as they stock these items day in and day out at an unbeatable price/value equation. Then there's the convenience trip -- this is where Costco recognizes for men, they can simplify (and help avoid the dreaded mall) to look see, or even pick-up (unplanned purchases) like dress shirts, casual polos, even shorts in the summer with either private label or recognized brands -- all while shopping for steaks, wine, outdoor gear or other essentials. The true fashion trip is the quintessential treasure hunt element that the ladies (in my life anyway) really enjoy. Whether it's a recent roadshow featuring Prada purses (which I was even drawn to), or the occasional high-end jeans, seasonal high-end jackets, dress suits or even the every day Gloria Vanderbilt capris, this is clearly where Costco is making a fashion statement, keeping things interesting, and driving return visits with intrigue. Bottom line: Costco continues to shine and impress!
  • 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.

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