When I first heard DemandTec’s amazing showing in the 2021 RIS Software LeaderBoard, where we ranked among the top 10 in a jaw-dropping 21 separate categories, I had to close my browser and re-open it to make sure I hadn’t misread the information. After nearly a decade in the retail industry, including 7 years of going through the process as a vendor being assessed in customer surveys for the annual RIS LeaderBoard in former roles, this result far surpassed my prior experiences.
To find out what prompted our customers to give us such notable rankings, I interviewed some of the DemandTec leaders whose contributions have made our customers successful in their price, promotion and markdown optimization strategies and execution. Remember that the RIS LeaderBoard results are 100% based on survey responses from customers, not vendors, so rankings directly reflect retailer’s reports to Litchfield, the independent research firm that compiles the LeaderBoard.
AR: When you think about how our retail customers rated DemandTec, what jumps out at you?
Craig Marion, Senior Director, Product Strategy: Of course, I get excited about DemandTec being recognized for technology innovation.[i] We were, of course, the first to market with science-based price optimization about two decades ago, and obsession with innovation continues to be a part of our DNA to this day. For example, we recently migrated to Microsoft Azure, which gives us cloud-native services and speeds our development agility and innovation.
Geoff Pofahl, Ph.D., Head of Science: What he said! From the very beginning of our heritage, we’ve invested in leading science. In the early days, this meant not just in our core product but in a group of scientists with Ph.D.s and master’s degrees looking at model outputs to help us continually fine-tune our model and forecast accuracy, which gives customers confidence in the integrity of our price recommendations.
I also want to give a shout-out to our science team because they have questing minds that constantly probe and contribute to leading science, including machine learning, in retail and beyond. We go beyond the purist academic approach to a very outcome- and business-focused philosophy that keeps us close to the real-world requirements of retailers and our role as the vendor of choice to them. Our team’s focus and experience is on building real, applied, scalable science free of the constraints of academic thinking and instead focused on accuracy, performance, and business impact.
We really focus on having a clear product strategy, communicating that effectively to our customers, and having truly outstanding engineering talent to consistently deliver what we say we’ll deliver.Craig Marion, Global Product Leader, DemandTec
And I’d like to point to our ROI rankings[ii] as well, because part of our value to retailers is that we measure ROI ongoing, looking at actual outcomes with our solution v. what those outcomes would have been if they were NOT using DemandTec. Our credibility in our recommendations, and forecast accuracy is fundamental to customers’ confidence in our ROI calculations.
Niranjan Chandrasekaran, VP Services, Customer Success and Support: I love how we blew the doors off in a lot of satisfaction and service-related categories. To Craig and Geoff’s point, a lot of that is because we make such innovative products that deliver measurable business impact and ROI. But I have to give a shout-out to our amazing folks in the customer support and customer success teams. Our team members are not only technically extremely capable, but they typically have at least 10 years’ experience in retail, and they bring their knowledge of how dozens of retailers have successfully leveraged optimization science to help every single other customer benefit from best practices. Did you notice that we are ranked in 9 different categories relating to customer satisfaction, quality of support and quality of service? That also speaks to why we are #3 in Leaders in Recommendation. And in the past year, we’ve invested even more aggressively in support teams and processes, leveraging leading tools and technologies to manage and run the processes, for better efficiency and transparency.
AR: It’s one thing to have these passionate teams that you’re all talking about. But since these ratings come directly from retailers, not from us talking about ourselves, why is that what we do resonates so strongly with our customers?
NC: It sounds like a cliché, but it’s really People, Culture and Process. As a culture, we are very conscious of the integrity of our commitments. Our foundational principle is that we focus on being good partners – we do the right thing for the customer and focus on the long journey. We’re not there just to make a quick sale and then disappear. We care about their long-term success, and we really want them to continue to unlock benefit from the tool.
CM: And that starts upstream too. We really focus on having a clear product strategy, communicating that effectively to our customers, and having truly outstanding engineering talent to consistently deliver what we say we’ll deliver. And all three of our teams – product, science and services – work closely with the sales team in the sales cycle so that we are focusing on that customer’s specific needs and how we can realistically address their needs. We focus on where we really are today AND where we are headed to meet their needs in the future.
NC: As you see from our high rankings on ease of installation and integration, as well as ease of administration and maintenance,[iii] we have a highly configurable product. We can quickly work with customers to reflect relationships like good/better/best, private label v. brand, etc. By getting up close with the retailer’s real environment, our success managers tap into their deep price and retail expertise to serve as valued strategic counsellors to customers.
GP: And as I said earlier with our science team, we’re in the trenches side-by-side with customers too. We aren’t up in some ivory tower; we’re tackling real-world problems with all their complexity and inconvenient complications.
CM: As I mentioned, we were birthed as an internet-scale digital-native company. We have a disciplined but agile culture. We have a commitment to automation of a lot of our development processes to ensure consistent high-quality products and get things developed more quickly, more reliably.
NC: To put it simply, we hire smart people, they’re motivated, and they listen to our customers. And we’re high-touch.
With new customers, we don’t just leave them with a user guide and wish them luck. We hold their hand and share our deep learnings and experience to get our customers off to a strong start. We use strong project management methodology with mature project plans, issue trackers, regular updates and proactive communications. We help the customer successfully think through their own organization, processes and how they can best drive user adoption, taking into account culture, training, organization, business processes, change management, and how the price team interacts with category managers, store operations, store communications, marketers and merchants.
After implementation, our customers have a designated expert resource who is dedicated to the customer’s continuing success and value and ability to adapt to changing business environments. This is a single point of contact for the overall relationship who will even walk them through new product release overviews.
And while it’s one of those things a lot of people in this arena would like to sweep under the rug, the nitty-gritty of getting the right data is really important. We know that data integration is always a big challenge for retailers. We have sophisticated team members who partner with them to help make the installation and integration process predictable and straightforward.
AR: What I hear from all of you is that your teams and the teams they work with are passionate, knowledgeable, and customer-obsessed. With all the investments we’re making in further technology, science, and service innovation, I can’t wait until we talk about the 2022 Software LeaderBoard results.
[i] DemandTec was ranked #3 in Technology Innovation by Tier One retailers and #4 in Technology Innovation overall.
[ii] DemandTec was ranked #3 in ROI by Tier One Retailers and #6 in ROI overall.
[iii] #2 in Ease of Administration & Maintenance, #4 in Ease of Administration and #5 in Ease of Installation & Integration.