Category: The ARC Way

Agilence: Using Data to Navigate Brick & Mortar Retail and F&B Spend Trends in Real Time

As some of the largest global retailers and restaurants grapple with the stutter-stop of opening and closing physical establishments across the country with differing local scenarios – our portfolio company Agilence has helped them adapt to survive, including deciding which channels to invest in, how to staff, and what products to stock up on.

Gone are the days of monthly (or even weekly) same store sales (SSS) analyses as the foundation of operational decisions – it is simply too little, too late. As both the health and legal environment continue to evolve on a daily/hourly basis, managers must make more dynamic decisions in real time to ensure stores can react to consumer demand more effectively and squeeze out elusive margins.

Agilence CEO Russ Hawkins and team point out some interesting trends they are seeing across their blue-chip customer base. The below graph shows average weekly percentage change in sales for Agilence’s grocery, retail, and QSR customers. As lockdowns began across the country, grocery saw a huge spike in sales as everyone began to stock-pile supplies. Conversely, retailers and restaurant sales plummeted as non-essential operators were forced to shut their doors.

Figure 1 Weekly percentage change in sales from Feb. 9 to Nov. 14, 2020.

Agilence’s data analytics solution has helped their customers monitor the effectiveness of new sales channels in real-time, getting them back in business faster.  As the pandemic has progressed, grocery has leveled out and settled into their “new normal,” leaning heavily on curbside pick-up and third-party delivery services like Instacart. Retailers have rebounded, thanks to increased E-Commerce penetration through sales channels like Buy-Online, Pick-up in Store (BOPIS)/curbside pick-up, and delivery.  Likewise, restaurants have nearly returned to normal with the help of expanded delivery and contactless ordering options.

As exceedingly anxious consumers have changed their spending behaviors, retail and restaurant operators have also struggled to find a safe, profitable staffing balance. Adopting new sales channels has only further complicated how operators balance labor cost with their ability to provide positive customer experiences. With Agilence, operators can report on sales by time of day per sales channel to better predict staffing demands and allocate personnel properly to tasks associated with certain sales channels – like picking and packing for curbside orders.

At the beginning of the pandemic, certain items skyrocketed in demand overnight – toilet paper, flour, diapers, cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, hair coloring, and beard trimmers.  As consumers rushed to stockpile the necessities, retailers were left without enough inventory to meet demand.  Restaurants have also taken a hard look at their menus, many consolidating down to only their most popular and profitable offerings.  Agilence’s customers can use their sales data to report on sales by SKU, keeping inventory on their physical and virtual shelves and staying ahead of demand.

While it’s impossible to predict what will happen as COVID-19 cases continue to climb as we head into the holiday season, the key to remaining profitable through these challenging times is the ability to make data-driven decisions quickly. Agilence will help their customers make real-time, informed decisions that will help them get through these tough times and position for long term sustainable growth in a post-COVID world.

To learn more about Agilence, visit