Solution Provider Spotlight: Interactive Edge

September 18, 2023
by Zel Bianco, founder and CEO of Interactive Edge

Give us a brief history of your company, when and how did you get started and what is your high-level mission statement?

We started by automating sales presentations for CPG companies that were looking to standardize their most important new item launches to retail customer headquarters. We leveraged our talented staff of programmers, animators, and client service staff, who had CPG experience to help companies like Colgate-Palmolive, J&J and Nestle introduce some of their most successful new item launches to date. We created the new item launch presentation for Colgate Total Toothpaste, which to this day is still their most successful new item launch. We also developed presentations for the numerous line extensions created under the Total Toothpaste brand umbrella. We did the same for many other CPG’s including J&J, Nestle, Schering-Plough, Benckiser and many more.

Based on the success of these new item launches, clients encouraged us to develop software to support data driven presentations that would have the same ease of use, but were more focused on delivering category management and shopper marketing selling decks such as category and line reviews, Joint Business Plans, Top to Tops and other automated deliverables that would cover more customers and save category managers and analysts time to focus on generating insights and actionable recommendations instead of performing manual work that could and should be automated.

Our vision is to continue being the leading solution provider for easy to use and easy to implement category management and shopper marketing software that automates as much as the manual process as possible – allowing clients to spend more time on delivering granular insights to their retail customers so that together, they grow their brands while helping the retailer grow their categories. We will continue to focus on providing our clients to utilize more of their data sources that are aligned and integrated in order to deliver more granular insights that lead to action.

What would you like CMA and SIMA members to know about your brand/company?

Most category management and shopper insights teams are stretched too thin regardless of company size. They cannot get to all the analytics requested by customers and leadership, and many are not using all the data they have access to. Our solution automates the iteration of data driven presentations across retail customers that save thousands of hours per initiative allowing analytics and COE teams to go deeper into their customer base, use more of their data and deliver more granular insights that lead to action and bigger opportunities to grow their business. Every product and feature we develop is to help our clients make a better impression to their retail customers by automating as much as the data to insights process as possible so that the insights developed elevate them to becoming a trusted advisor to their retail customers.

What is the most common question you hear from current and potential customers, and how do you answer it?

They all say that their team is stretched too thin, and they are not able to get to all the analytical requests from both customers and senior leadership. They also realize that they are not using as much of their data as they would like due to the difficulty in accessing and aligning multiple data sources. The use of more data sources would allow them to deliver more granular and therefore more valuable insights to their customers. Can Interactive Edge help us with that?

XP3 Data Tools can load data without requiring code or scripting. They allow business users to solve the most common data preparation challenges so that they can get in and out of the data management process quickly to focus on the storytelling from that data. Users can then use our Presentation and Report Builder to create data driven content directly within PowerPoint without having to copy/paste from Excel. Master presentations can then be developed that allow users to simply select the most appropriate presentation for the meeting they are preparing for, and our XP3 BI Cloud web portal automates updating the presentation for the retailer customer selected in seconds or a few minutes if efficient assortment is part of the story.

Any white space in the industry or areas you are looking to expand into?

We have always done exceptionally well helping clients get the most out of their category reviews, top-to-top, executive, and other presentations utilizing syndicated and panel data, but there is still tons of opportunity to add additional data sources like Luminate, Kantar, Numerator, and other data to their data-driven PowerPoint presentations so that the storytelling is elevated to a new level. The more data sources, the more granular the insights and the more valuable they become to customers and internal stakeholders. Retailers will generally only work with those suppliers that help them grow categories, and those that bring insights and recommendations with that lens, instead of brand focused one, will reap the rewards of becoming a trusted advisor to those customers.

What is the most important thing that needs to be addressed in the category management and shopper insights disciplines going forward?

One of the most important aspects to address going forward is the integration of data analytics and technology to drive actionable insights and improved decision-making. Some key points to consider:

  • Data Integration and Analysis: Category management and shopper insights teams need to address the challenge of integrating diverse data sources. By combining and analyzing these datasets, teams can gain a more comprehensive understanding of shopper preferences, motivations, and purchase patterns.
  • Advanced Analytics and AI: Applying advanced analytics techniques, such as predictive modeling, machine learning, and AI algorithms, can help extract meaningful insights from large volumes of data and provide actionable recommendations to optimize category performance and enhance the shopping experience.
  • Personalization and Customer Segmentation: As consumer expectations for personalized experiences increase, category management and shopper insights teams should focus on refining customer segmentation and targeting strategies. By understanding different shopper segments and their specific needs, retailers can tailor their assortments, promotions, and merchandising strategies to deliver personalized experiences that drive loyalty and satisfaction.

By addressing these areas, category management and shopper insights disciplines can evolve to become more data-driven, customer-centric, and agile. The integration of advanced analytics and technology will enable retailers to make informed decisions, optimize category performance, and deliver personalized experiences that meet the evolving needs and preferences of shoppers.

How are you thinking about the next 3-5 years in retail?

  • E-Commerce Expansion: Online shopping is already growing rapidly; this means that retailers will need to focus on providing a strong online presence and offering a seamless shopping experience across all channels.
  • Automation and AI Integration: Automation technologies, including cashier-less checkout systems, robotics, and AI-powered chatbots, will become more prevalent in retail. These technologies can streamline operations, improve efficiency, and enhance customer service. AI will also be used for demand forecasting, inventory management, and personalized marketing.
  • Omnichannel Retail: The practice of providing a seamless shopping experience across all channels, including online, in-store, and mobile. As retailers look to meet the needs of consumers who want to shop however, they want, whenever they want.
  • Data and Analytics: Retailers will need to use data to better understand their customers, identify trends, and make better decisions about product assortment, pricing, and promotions.
  • Personalization and Customer Experience: Personalization is the practice of tailoring the shopping experience to the individual customer. As retailers look for ways to create a more engaging and relevant shopping experience for their customers.

These are just a few of the trends that I think will shape the retail industry in the next 3-5 years. It will be interesting to see how retailers adapt to these trends and create new and innovative ways to meet the needs of their customers.