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: 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.
  • Posted on: 04/02/2019

    Again, Amazon attempts to shed Whole Foods’ high price image

    Agree with Paula on the PR Amazon garners on this topic. May I suggest a couple observations? Being the first physical retail endeavor at scale in Whole Foods, Amazon may be quickly learning that running a brick and mortar enterprise requires substantially different skill sets. At the same time, unlike other retailers, they can afford to treat WFM as a "lab at scale" to keep learning and improving. Secondly, let's keep in mind that Amazon is very proficient at dynamic pricing, giving them a distinct advantage to keep testing pricing strategies -- even at intra-day/item/location. While easy enough and transparent to track intra-day price changes on across thousands of products, it would be a near impossible feat to effectively track and understand prices (as a competitor or third-party data provider) at their brick and mortar operations like they are using via ESLs at the 4-Star store. I don't expect the WFM experiment is anywhere near complete. Will be interesting to see if they decide to introduce dynamic pricing (intra-day) at scale as the next step.
  • Posted on: 04/02/2019

    Which data sources should be driving personalization?

    Retailers in general are getting much better with personalization efforts, often a core business strategy. What tends to differentiate leaders is the ability to create deeper insights via differentiated customer engagement (data). Think about websites that are tailored with relevant content and messages (beyond recommendations) and mobile apps that customers actually use, will happily opt in and open while in-store because the retailer is providing value-added services. Driving better penetration and use of such customer engagement platforms allows the retailer to ask occasional (smartly crafted and brief) questions which in turn enable the retailer to create and leverage new data sets and observations that go much deeper in understanding customer tastes and preferences. More (and differentiated) observations = better insights and actions.
  • Posted on: 04/01/2019

    Are third parties the biggest reason delivery costs keep going up?

    Working with third-party carriers is not a "hurdle," it's a cost of doing business unless you have the scale (volume and geographic coverage) and can support your own fleet of vehicles. Seems the real issue is data visibility and a siloed responsibility approach. There are further implications beyond Supply Chain to consider here, especially on the CX side, beyond "delivery costs." Having recently consulted with one well known retail brand, they shared the Customer Service implications of having multiple third-party providers, and poor data visibility as:
    • 65% of their CS call volume was "where's my stuff?"
    • Average 8 minute "handle time" on those calls -- mostly due to CS representatives having to open up no less than three different third-party applications to find the order, and most often ended up with stale data.
    Perhaps instead of focusing solely on "lowest cost provider" (meaning a patchwork of providers), consider one 3PL that can provide real-time data, easy to use UIs, dashboards for all teams (SC, CS, Store Ops, etc.) for tracking, etc. And maybe you just go "all in" with one provider that has stellar data visibility for awhile. Sure, maybe you pay a bit more in some regions or classes of service with just one 3PL to rely on, but the bigger picture of data availability, currency, access and risk is the central issue to be considered. If this is made to be a "supply chain" issue, you've already lost. This is a strategic element of the business, and as such should be viewed as an ENTERPRISE issue to solve, and a shared burden (across all major lines of business) -- this is NOT just a supply chain problem; it impacts the entire business.
  • Posted on: 04/01/2019

    Will AI transform Ahold Delhaize’s fresh food supply chain?

    Ahold has been making some impressive moves as of late - all with data and AI as the central element. It was a real pleasure to hear from Frans Muller, CEO, Ahold, at Shoptalk this year, where he shared many such stories. Migrating the robust capabilities of demand forecasting and replenishment applications once reserved for shelf stable products to fresh foods is long overdue. For years, (even today for many grocers) fresh food replenishment remains a local, paper- (or phone call) based ordering process due to the complexity of the supplier network, and the dynamic nature of product availability in each local market. The upside of getting it right in the fastest growing grocery segment (fresh foods) has significant ROI implications. Data collaboration between retail and supplier trading partners will be crucial to success, and in combination with IoT (real-time feedback) and blockchain (source-to-shelf insights) - improving fresh food management seems to already be showing great promise for grocery leaders such as Ahold. After all, getting it right in the fastest growing segment of the grocery business (fresh foods) is critically important for grocers, as center store commodity goods continue to decline in-store.
  • Posted on: 03/27/2019

    Wait … did Whole Foods just open a bodega on Manhattan’s Westside?

    Another beach head in food retail. Seems they are coming fast and furious lately, with Amazon demonstrating a laser focus right now on food/grocery -- especially in the physical realm. The acquisition of Whole Foods provided a source to gather more customer insights, observations, propensities to test and learn in a large scale brick and mortar theater and give new multi-channel experiments a try. Simultaneously, with the launch of GO, enabling "store of the future" type brick and mortar test and learn, bringing new technologies to the forefront to continue to push the "edge" via IoT and streaming analytics. All while stating (yet) another new grocery store concept (TBD) on the horizon, whilst building out core food private label products (milk, etc.). Seems clear that Amazon is launching a multi-front assault on the food retail sector right now ... and with seemingly unlimited capital and patience to test new concepts, learn, improve. Some concepts will be winners, some will need to be tweaked, but the insights are priceless when playing the long game.
  • Posted on: 03/19/2019

    Are Amazon’s private labels falling short or just getting started?

    In the FMCG space, they are clearly just getting started. They have learned much in the past year from the WFM acquisition in this space, taking on the 365 label initially and have now had more time to study consumer purchase behavior (online and offline) in this retail segment. Recently announcing "basic" private label launches for broader consumer reach (beyond natural and organics) starting with dairy products such as milk, is akin to where traditional grocers started decades ago. And yet another way for Amazon to not only grow share in grocery, but (and, perhaps more importantly) improve margins in a razor thin GM segment that they will also be expanding with new brick and mortar stores -- a robust private label portfolio is a requirement really.
  • Posted on: 03/15/2019

    Will Walmart’s new tablet burn into Amazon Fire’s market share?

    Agree with others that have stated it’s all about experimentation (test & learn). Even if it fails (as Amazon has done many times), there will be insights and lessons learned that will provide valuable inputs into other areas of their business, or future plays. Hey, beyond children's games, why not incorporate a Vudu app on this device, provide limited use downloads of content, movies for kids and families as well?
  • Posted on: 03/14/2019

    Will Costco’s new $15 minimum wage hurt or benefit the chain?

    As a Costco member since 1997, would be hard pressed to point to a single "poor customer experience" moment in the past 20+ years. Perhaps, because taking care of their associates has been a core principal and cultural ethos since the inception. One of the few retailers that has always viewed their associates as assets, versus "labor," and why so many of them stick around for years, even decades. Hard to imagine that the majority of front line associates weren't already at/above the $15/hr wage, not to mention industry leading benefits for all.
  • Posted on: 03/14/2019

    Will customer hosts raise the shopping experience bar at Walmart?

    I have often been baffled by long lines (and frustrated customers) at Walmart service desks where the majority of the customers standing in line are there with returns. Given the returns volume Walmart deals with, adding staff (or simply bursting during peak hours) combined with technology to simplify the returns process in-store (simultaneously reducing online return shipping costs) should prove to be an instant winner for both Walmart and customers!
  • Posted on: 02/05/2019

    Will Target’s dynamic pricing strategy erode customers’ trust?

    Agree, Target failed if true. But I'd take a slightly different POV on this one ... chalk this one up to a flawed Data Science experiment. Compounded by the fact that is has now been exposed and a PR issue, not good. However, let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater here -- dynamic pricing is a new retail business reality (used smartly). My take on this experiment is the flawed thinking that Target would penalize a consumer that is actually using their mobile app to begin with. Generally, traditional retail mobile apps have very low customer penetration, mostly because they lack benefits or a "reason" worthy of a customer even turning on the app, ala location based tracking (thus, why proximity marketing while promising, has a weak total ROI). Not to mention that it is highly likely that the "best" customers are the few that are even turning on the app to begin with at this stage. Silly Target should be rewarding (and finding ways to entice) ALL customers for simply using their mobile app to begin with. Mass adoption is required first. The default (for now) should be use the mobile app, get the best competitive and most relevant to me discounts, no matter where you are. Build mobile app adoption first and foremost. Why? Because ONLY then (upon building a larger sample size of mobile customer user data) can you run legitimate data science "experiments."

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