The University of California, Davis presented the 2018 Distinguished Alumni medal to Ken Ouimet, CEO and Founder of AI retail price innovator, Engage3. Ken received the award alongside JoeBen Bevirt and Cynthia Murphy-Ortega at a special alumni celebration at the Mondavi Center on October 26, 2018. The award is given to alumni who have achieved an overall high distinction in their field and have contributed a distinguished service to the college, profession or the community.
The College of Engineering has had over 22,500 graduates since its inception in 1962. Among the alumni are company executives, doctors, technological innovators, and an astronaut-turned-professor. Beginning in 1989, UC Davis began awarding the honor of Distinguished Engineering Alumni annually. To date, only 64 awards have been given out.
Engage3, which helps retailers and brands enhance their pricing performance through data science and analytics, today announced that they have been included, for the second year in a row, in the prestigious Inc. 5000 List of Fastest-Growing Private Companies in the U.S.
Ranked at #1,458 last year, they climbed up 327 spots to their new ranking of #1,151. No company in the 2018 list has grown by less than 50 percent over the last three years. Companies who make this list are considered as true job creators, as only about 12 percent of American companies achieve one-year revenue growth of 25 percent or more.
Engage3has a 97%+ customer retention rate and has grown the number of its retail customers across the US and Canada by 56% between 2017-2018. The company has successfully expanded its platform to support sporting goods, electronics, apparel, and pure play e-commerce retailers over this same period.
Ken Ouimet, Engage3’s CEO and Founder, said, “We are thrilled to make it to the Inc. 5000’s fastest growing companies two years in a row. It is great validation of the strategy and value that we are providing to our customers, “ he added.
The companies on the list amassed more than $206B in revenue in 2017, up 158 percent from $79.8B in 2014.
“While these last three years of growth have been tremendous, this is only the beginning for us and we look forward to continuing the growth at an accelerated rate,” said Edris Bemanian, Engage3’s Chief Operating Officer. “We’re well on the path to revolutionizing retail pricing by improving retailers’ price image and profitability. This award is a testament to our amazing team’s unique ability to execute against that vision.”
Engage3 has assembled a team of price optimization pioneers to develop the next generation of price optimization. The company was founded by the creators of SAP (KhiMetrics), who are credited with creating the retail price optimization space. Engage3’s leadership team is composed of former SAP (KhiMetrics), dunnhumby, KSS Retail, and IBM/DemandTec executives.
Engage3’s focus is on data quality and management which are the foundation of successful price optimization implementations. Engage3 Competitive Intelligence Platform (CIP) is an integrated end-to-end solution that uses data science to ensure data quality. CIP 1) enables retailers to automate the management and optimize the design of their competitive shop program, 2) uses demand-side product attributes to link “Like” competitor products, and 3) reverse-engineers and monitors competitors’ pricing strategies. Engage3 Competitive Price Response (CPR) optimizes pricing, and manages a consistent price image across different channels, markets, and categories while providing control over your company’s quarterly sales and profits.
Engage3 was named in the top 1,500 firms for two years in a row in the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies in the U.S. It also recently raised its Series B financing from retail technology-focused venture capitalists.
Engage3 is working to create the ultimate platform for retailers to monitor and develop pricing strategies. Even when focused on products at the store and item level, changes in the market influence these strategies significantly. I met with our CEO, Ken Ouimet, in front of the beautiful Mondavi Center in Davis, California. With big changes at Amazon and Walmart this past year, I asked him to describe the future that he sees for the retail industry.
Gartner identified Ken as one of the pioneers in the retail pricing optimization space. In this video, he shares his insights and enthusiasm for what’s ahead. You can also watch the video here.
One of the largest opportunities for retailers today is to improve their visibility and figure out how their competitors are pricing within a given market. The challenge is how they can do that using their existing budget.
Some large U. S. retailers are making their price adjustments based on a single competitor location in a region. Take a market like Atlanta, for example, which is an area of 8,300 square miles with more than 6.8 million people. Many retailers will take that market and price check one competitor location there, and then base their pricing for the whole Atlanta market, using this very limited information.
“This is not a very good way to get your pricing right for your customers,” Lyle Walker, VP of Strategic Enablement at Engage3, says.
The real opportunity is for retailers to improve their visibility and really understand how their competitors are pricing their products across the market. Engage3 solves this problem by utilizing online data, in-store data collection, and machine learning to QA collection processes. This leads to data that is accurate. We then deliver this back within hours so a retailer can really understand what their competitors are doing across their markets and locations, and even understand what their competitors’ KVIs are, etc.
“Without adding to existing competitive shop budgets, we can give you a window into your competitors’ reaction to new prices. We can track this over time and measure it, and then report against it,” Walker said. “You can make refined decisions that are localized to your markets and to your customers who shop at those sites,” he added.
In a study of prices across more than 2,000 items and more than 225,000 pricing records collected during the first three months of 2018, Engage3 reports on who led in the private label, national brands, and fresh areas across 46 different banners.
Aldi Leads in Private Label
Aldi led in lower prices on average at -32% less for its private label, beating Target, H-E-B and Trader Joe’s, who came in at -12%, -9% and -9% lower prices respectively, in this study. At the other end of the spectrum, Vons trailed everyone else with the highest pricing for private label at a price index of +10%, followed closely by Safeway at +9%.
Aldi and Trader Joe’s Shine in National Brands
Aldi and Trader Joe’s, who carry a very small number of national brands in their stores, still managed to lead at -43% and -30% lower, respectively, in average pricing for the items in this study. Kroger and H-E-B followed with national brand pricing of -16% and -15%, respectively, while Sprouts surprisingly lagged at +5% for national brands.
Aldi, Trader Joe’s, and H-E-B Lead the Way in Fresh Pricing
Aldi took home the top spot in lower pricing for Fresh items at -31% for Q1 2018, followed by Trader Joe’s and H-E-B on par at -13%. Publix Super Markets and Safeway charged the most in the first quarter of 2018, on average for the items in this study, with a +7% index. Albertsons followed those two at +4% higher average pricing for Fresh items.
To receive a full detailed report or get more information about the full data, REGISTER HERE.
On April 18 to 19, retailer C&S Wholesale Grocers held their 10thannual Tech West Expo at Thunder Valley Resort Casino in Lincoln, CA. Over 100 independent grocery retailers from the West Coast, including Hawaii and Texas, converged at the town Northeast of Sacramento.
Listed by Forbes as the tenth-largest privately held company in the United States, C&S Wholesale Grocers is a wholesale distributor of food and grocery store items with headquarters in Keene, NH.
C&S recently released their strategic retail pricing system and has chosen Engage3 as their partner for competitive retail pricing. “Engage3 IS the premiere partner in retail price information,” said Frank Puleo, VP of Retail Services at C&S.
Engage3 is a leading provider of solutions that help retailers and brands improve their pricing performance and compete more profitably through data science & analytics.
“We have worked with Engage3 for seven to eight years to deliver the best competitive pricing platform in one of our regions. Over the years, we’ve extended that partnership and now we have it on a national level,” noted Corey Quiring, Sr. Director of Corporate Retail Services at C&S.
Last month, Robert Schaulis of Andnowuknow interviewed Engage3 COO Edris Bemanian on his observations of pricing pressures from the likes of Amazon and Lidl. “The biggest trend is that pricing and assortments are becoming more dynamic and localized,” Edris says. He notes that e-commerce is now becoming a fundamental part of retailers’ strategies versus just a “me too” approach. Read the full article in Andnowuknow.com.
Big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are giving rise to new retail pricing strategies that were not possible just two years ago. The explosion of data available has provided the perfect storm for AI to thrive. Retailers are starting to differentiate themselves like hedge funds with high-speed pricing models and proprietary market data.
April 18 – 19, 2018
Thunder Valley Casino Resort
Hosted by C&S Wholesale Grocers
Edris Bemanian, COO of Engage3, will be a featured speaker on Wednesday, April 18 from 12:00-12:30 pm. He will be sharing his expertise on how retailers can enhance their pricing performance through machine learning and AI.
What to Look for in a Competitive Pricing Platform
Precise and Accurate Data
First and foremost, a competitive pricing platform must have the ability to collect precise and accurate pricing data. This allows retailers to target competitive shops, optimize frequency, and specify which items to focus on within regions or individual stores.
Rather than casting a wide net to see what useful data gets brought in, retailers must be able to get a global look at the actions of their competitors while also drilling down to store-specific opportunities. When they have both views, they can see clearly where they are winning and losing. Essentially, such a system puts both a telescope and a microscope into the hands of merchants and their pricing analysts, enabling them to comprehensively study their competitor’s universe. It allows them to reverse-engineer their competitor’s approach to pricing and to develop a targeted response, especially if they see a weakness.
Quality Assurance Workflow
A competitive pricing platform must also have a strong quality assurance workflow. With today’s mobile app-enabled technology, automated processes can greatly reduce manual errors and ensure that only quality data is being captured at shelf edge. Additionally, such apps can compare shelf data against historical records, flagging any SKU pricing that seems historically unreasonable. Advanced analytics can assure that the data being captured is accurate in terms of price, brand, sizing, and product attributes. This technology can eliminate much of the human error that has plagued competitive shop programs.
With the rise of private labels, competitive pricing platforms must be able to compare product attributes. In traditional competitive shop programs, as many as 40% of items go unaccounted for because there is no UPC match. To solve this problem, competitive pricing platforms must be able to utilize visual data capture technology and advanced character recognition to compare product attributes. This allows product linking to occur not just by UPC, but also by key attributes and statement of ingredient similarities, i.e. gluten-free and organic. This creates a more accurate picture of a competitor’s private label pricing strategy and their total value proposition.
Customized KVI Lists Based on Statistical Analysis
Historically, cost and timeliness have made it difficult to acquire quality competitive data. Given the dynamic nature of the retail environment, static KVI lists are not responsive enough to the realities of where to focus competitive pricing efforts across various geographies and store-specific categories. The retailer needs a pricing platform that allows them to shift from static KVI lists to ones that are easily customized by banner or even by specific store. Rather than taking a blanket approach, the critical decisions of where, what and when to comp shop should be based on strategic statistical analysis.
Merchants need the ability to drill down and understand the decisions competitors are making within specific regions, designated market areas (DMAs), cities and individual stores across their overall pricing strategy or within specific merchandise categories. This would enable merchants to lead their competition by being right on pricing with the right items that are important to customers at a localized level. Such flexibility in designing and executing a more targeted approach to competitor pricing would allow for significant savings in budgeted dollars for competitive shops. A retailer could go after the data they actually need when they need it, rather than spending dollars on costly full book programs.
Correlating Online and In-store Pricing
In today’s world of e-commerce, more and more retailers are taking an omni-channel approach to selling. A technology-enabled competitive pricing platform needs to take advantage of advanced web crawling algorithms to acquire this competitive data and correlate it against the data captured by auditors in physical store checks. This would enable a more efficient and cost-effective approach to acquiring competitive pricing data.
As advanced analytics enable faster and more accurate decision-making, organizations will need to change to more cross-functionally aligned metrics that strategically drive the financial success of a company. When considering today’s retail organizational structure, is what drives a merchant’s decisions the same as what motivates the employees in a pricing department? Having the data to make decisions regarding competitive pricing at the speed of retail requires a major step forward in enabling accurate pricing decisions to be made with a sense of urgency and strategic intent. However, to fully unlock its true impact to P&L, the retailer will benefit from progressive thinking around how to align objectives and an incentive structure that motivates and drives collaboration. This will enable different departments with complementary skill sets to pull the rope in the same direction and drive a total value proposition focused on the customer.