ESRC Retail Research & Data. Retail Data Navigators 2013 Final Report to the ESRC

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1 ESRC Retail Research & Data Retail Data Navigators 2013 Final Report to the ESRC WEBSITE VERSION April 2014 Demographic Decisions Ltd. 20 Russell House Cambridge Street London SW1V 4EQ Tel:

2 Contents Page Executive Summary 3 0. Introduction 4 1. Masters projects 7 2. The Retail Research Data website Support for BIS, and developing the ESRC s retail contacts Targeting companies for larger scale collaboration 22 Annex A Masters projects A1. ESRC Website announcement A2. The 11 Masters projects Project Proposal Forms Annex B Skills Training needs and solutions B1. Summary of responses, 9 October 2013 Annex C Retailers needs for research in 2014 C1. Feedback from workshop, 9 October 2013 C2. Focus group, convened on 5 December PAGE 2

3 Executive summary The second year of the Retail Research and Data (RR&D) work has developed a bridgehead to sustainable engagement with the retail sector on a number of fronts. First, it has extended a nationwide Master s dissertation programme that successfully engages 10 universities and 14 retail organisations in close collaboration in applied problem solving, and leverages co-funding for this work. Second, it has developed a web portal that serves Open and added value datasets that retailers, large and small, need to use. And third, it has laid some of the foundations for a five-year collaboration between the retail and academic sectors under Phase 2 of the ESRC Big Data Initiative. This report describes the range of strategic and operational activities in the second year of the RR&D scheme, including contributions to the successful application for BIS funding of the ESRC Big Data Initiative, and developing the range of retail organisations that have participated in collaborations with the academic sector under the scheme. The programme of activities has also begun to develop some innovative ideas for postgraduate research training and capacity building, through DTCs and other channels. PAGE 3

4 0. Introduction In 2012, as one part of a new strategy to increase engagement with the retail sector, the ESRC appointed a team of Retail Data Navigators to explore different data sources and analysis within the sector. The report by the Demographic Decisions team in February 2013 described four elements of a formative strategy for engaging the retail sector: 1. A survey of retailers perceived needs relevant to academic research. 2. A national competition for Masters project proposals on topics developed in discussion with retailers. 3. A prototype Retail Research Data website, to service shared Open Data needs. 4. Developing an agenda for building relationships and seeking further collaborative projects with retailers. In January 2013 the ESRC extended this work for a further year. The services to be provided by Demographic Decisions for the ESRC were detailed in the ESRC s contract: 1. Masters Projects (2013 round), to strengthen and create new links typically with large retailers which have strong analytical teams. 2. Retail Research Data website. This is to extend the ESRC s reach to retailers which are aware of the potential value of research and data, but need help to find valuable free datasets swiftly and easily. 3. Targeting selected companies for larger-scale collaboration. This effort will focus on companies which have the understanding, corporate will, and project champions, to consider a higher level of working with the ESRC, its DTCs and other academic partners. Particular reference will be made to the report of the Administrative Data Task Force, and the potential for collaborative work on topics such as health records (in the case of pharmacy companies), and address / property files and benefits claimants (which are of particular interest to energy companies). 4. Supporting BIS, by feeding in to its work with the retail sector, such as providing input to the Retail and the Research Base seminar (February 2013), and engaging with the BIS retail sector STEM skills consultation. Such support will be provided as it is needed throughout the year. Months December 2012 December 2012 to March 2013 Approval by ESRC. Masters projects Activity Review & revise the announcement made on the ESRC website for 2012 projects. Alert commercial companies and academic supervisors PAGE 4

5 March 2013 April to June 2013 June 2013 July to October 2013 October 2013 November & December 2013 both those already active in 2012, and those who also expressed interest of the opportunity for Masters projects. Actively encourage companies to specify projects, post these on the ESRC website, and publicise and promote the initiative to supervisors and students. Aim to generate 25 good projects, with 20 ultimately delivering (c.f. 16 in 2012) RRD website Focus on the arrival of 2011 Census data, sending an updated release ( v3 ) of the website to industry evaluators in February Targeting companies Select 5 promising companies, and seek meetings at their offices + Support for BIS Progress meeting with ESRC Masters projects Actively monitor co-operation between retailers, students, and supervisors RRD website Publicise v3 to retailers, especially companies with limited analytical capability. Continue to add links further datasets, including UK Data Service surveys (e.g. wave 3 of USoc) Targeting companies Review progress made with the 5 targets, and seek follow-up meetings. Consider other companies that may have surfaced. + Support for BIS Progress meeting with ESRC Masters projects Plan for the DUG Conference on 9 October, alerting all three parties to the need for dissertations and presentations. Liaise with ESRC about any prizes. RRD website Seek user feedback, and prepare and publish v4 Targeting companies Seek to close collaborations between retailers, the ESRC and academic partners involving 3 or more companies. Begin to scope retailer buy in for a Retail Data Institute or similar if pilot priority projects are successful. + Support for BIS Progress meeting with ESRC Complete all four strands of the project, and deliver a Final Report to ESRC PAGE 5

6 The four main activities of the 2013 project are reported in the following order: 1. Masters Projects (2013 round) 2. Retail Research Data website 3. Support for BIS, and developing the ESRC s retail contacts 4. Targeting selected companies for larger-scale collaboration This report has been written as a self-contained document, rather requiring the reader to refer to the previous one. Some of the earlier content and recommendations have been carried forward, and are commented upon here. The authors, Keith Dugmore, of Demographic Decisions and UCL, and Professor Paul Longley of UCL, would like to express their thanks to our main contact at the ESRC Bruce Jackson, together with Fiona Armstrong and Maria Sigala, and also to all the retailers, academic supervisors and students who made time to support the activities. The opinions expressed here are, of course, those of the authors alone. PAGE 6

7 1. Masters projects 1.1 The objective The 2012 initiative confirmed experience over the last decade that collaborative Masters dissertations are a successful and cost-effective way of engaging retailers with the academic sector for the first time typically small, initial collaborations in various disciplines in different universities. 1.2 Encouraging retailers to generate topics for Masters projects This started with a Focus Group held on 6 December, At the previous year s event those retailers who already had previous experience of sponsoring Masters students were also asked to give their advice: Table 1.1 Retailers advice, based on their previous Masters projects Interview the candidate students seek out those who are keen (& remember the 500 incentive). The student s motivation is vital especially if they see it as a way of getting a good reference, or the placement turning into a job. Check the student s willingness to come to the company and help with their expenses. Remember the opportunity provided by student supervision for helping to develop the company s own staff (a step towards more experience of management). The quality / involvement of the student s academic supervisor is vital a danger of no help at all, or steering the student in a direction of no use to the company. It s a great opportunity for the student s supervisor to develop relationships with big retail companies. Might some topics (& students) be clustered (by institution and or company), rather than operating in isolation? The search for projects was then started on 10 January, with s to 15 members of the Demographics User Group: Barclays, Boots, Camelot, Centrica, Co-operative Group, E.ON, EE, GSK, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Nationwide, Sainsbury s, Serco, Tesco, and Whitbread. Personal contacts at 9 other companies (Argos, ASDA, CACI, Dixon s, Experian, Santander, Telefonica, The Children s Mutual, and Yorkshire Building Society) were also alerted. Information was also posted on the LinkedIn group Retail Location Planning and Analysis Professionals, which had more than 1,000 members at that time. The retail consultancy CPM then expressed interest. In several cases Project Proposal Forms were initially drafted by the Data Navigators, who also checked all the final versions prepared by retailers for their academic content. Master s PAGE 7

8 students typically elect dissertation topics in the February of their studies, and we were very aware that time was of the essence. 1.3 Targeting potential academic supervisors, and their students Strenuous efforts had been made in 2012 to identify potentially relevant programmes and the current course director to whom our inquiries should be directed. This had involved working with Nottingham s Retail Knowledge Navigator team and the ESRC, identifying the key academics involved in coordinating DTCs, as well as those coordinating related EPSRC initiatives, and individual academics who had successfully applied for ESRC CASE Awards in the last three years of the national competition. Further contacts had been made during the 2012 round, increasing the number of target academics from 60 to 81, and these were initially ed on 15 January to alert them to expect projects for their students to be announced in February. 1.4 Announcing the initiative on the ESRC website The full details of Engaging with Retail were posted on the ESRC s website on 15 February, and publicised with an to our academic contacts and asking them to spread the news to students who were seeking Masters projects. The introduction to Retail Research Masters dissertation opportunities had a link to the (growing) list of projects, and to Application guidance and scheme details (Annex A1). The major features again included: A 500 bursary on completion of the project, for those students on a Master's programme funded through an ESRC 1+3 studentship at an ESRC Doctoral Training Centre. Non-ESRC students were also able to apply (but were not eligible to receive the 500 bursary). A chance of winning one of three prizes ( 500, 250 and 250), awarded to the best three dissertations. An expenses-paid opportunity to showcase research findings to an audience of leading retailers, at a conference held at the Royal Society in October Additional sponsorship (typically 500 for a successful project) from the retail partner to the project. 1.5 Managing students applications This publicity generated a lot of interest and consequent work, pursuing and finalising project proposal forms from retailers, receiving applications from students and forwarding them to retailers, and getting the students supervisors involved. PAGE 8

9 1.6 Projects and applications: 2012 and 2013 In 2012, 14 retailers initially generated 25 project proposals, and these attracted expressions of interest from 46 students. Subsequently, nine projects were withdrawn by retailers, due to insufficient time, not finding a suitable applicant, and, in one case, illness. In 2013, despite the increased effort to widen the number of retailers proposing projects by using LinkedIn retail groups, and relentless encouragement of existing contacts, 9 retailers generated 14 proposals. Retailers explained this in terms of the turmoil in the retail sector in early 2013: some major retailer chains collapsed; others found themselves under severe pressure; and still others were formulating ways of benefitting from the turbulent market. More perplexingly, the total number of student applicants fell from 46 to 39. One contributory factor was that the University of Leeds Geography Department, which had been exceptionally supportive in 2012, had fewer students in But this doesn t explain why there were fewer student applications in 2013, despite the success of 2012, and the publicity that it generated. One possible explanation is that Master s students, keenly aware of the employment prospects in different sectors, did not perceive retailing as an attractive career destination, given the widespread adverse publicity of the sector s immediate prospects. It is reassuring, however, that there were more student expressions of interest than available projects, confirming that the programme remained an effective method of knowledge exchange between academia and retailing. 1.7 The 11 resulting projects, and their monitoring and delivery The application process ultimately resulted in 13 projects being advertised in 2013, of which 11 were successfully matched to Masters students. The Project Proposal Forms (Annex A2) show the topics, which have attracted favourable comments about their business relevance and range. A summary is provided in Table 1.2 Table 1.2 The 11 Masters projects participants Project title Company Retail Contact Student Supervisor University Evaluation of Supplier Insight Delivery & RoI Boots Louise Hughes William Newell Prof. Andrew Alexander Surrey Strategic territory decisioning British Gas Andrew Milligan Oliver Turner Prof. Paul Longley UCL Potential retail network density in int. markets Camelot (1) Gordon Farquharson Nicholas Skyte Prof. Graham Clarke Leeds Exploration of fusing geographies Camelot (2) Gordon Farquharson Ioanna Chounta Dr Jim Wright Southampton Census 2011: location planning Co-operative (1) Mark Harlow Adam Dales Prof. Dave Martin Southampton Key drivers of a successful store relocation Co-operative (2) Mark Harlow Christopher Woods Prof. Martin Clarke Leeds Integration of Business & Retail Banking Co-op Bank Craig Harrop Alejandro Relloso Dr Paul Simmonds Warwick BS Targeting houses to deliver ECO E.ON Anthony DuGuay Jonathan Holt Dr. Claire Jarvis Leicester Retail location in emerging overseas markets Experian (1) Richard Jenkings Amandeep Dhillon Prof. Kul Pawar Nottingham Public transport travel time model Experian (2) Richard Jenkings Matthew Blackwell Dr. Nick Tate Leicester Mobile Social Media M&S Mike Whitelegge Robert Lea Prof. Paul Longley UCL PAGE 9

10 Of the 11 projects, 8 were supervised by staff working in Geography departments, and 3 by academics based in Business schools. Each student s supervisor was contacted in April to obtain a statement for the ESRC of their support for the project. The Navigators then monitored progress, contacting retail sponsors on 21 May, the students on 29 June, and all the participants on 30 June, 31 July, 15 August, and 6 September: this strategy had been developed on the basis of experience in 2012, to seek early news of any problems of communication between the three parties. All were alerted to the forthcoming conference, and the excellent opportunity for students to present their work to a big audience (including potential employers) and for retailers and academics to develop existing contacts and build new bridges. Each student was encouraged to attend, prepare a poster (with all expenses paid by the project), and to send their dissertation by 20 September, to give time for judging before the conference. The Navigators are very grateful to ESRC s Bruce Jackson (see below) and Professor Martin Callingham of Birkbeck College, who read the dissertations and identified three prize winners. 1.8 Conference at the Royal Society, 9 October The Conference Understanding millions of mobile consumers was sponsored by the Demographics User Group and the ESRC. The speakers in the morning session included Andy Thompson, Head of Network Planning and Property Insights, Sainsbury s, and Max Kelly, former Managing Director of Virgin Insight. There were more than 100 delegates from commercial companies (50+), academia (30+), and government (20+). The afternoon session featured ESRC s Retail Research and Data Project. Bruce Jackson, Senior Knowledge Exchange Manager, set the scene, providing an overview of the ESRC s support for retail research. Professor Paul Longley then introduced the Retail Research and Data project, including poster displays provided by the 7 students who were able to attend, and the ESRC s three prizes for the best dissertations, which were presented by Bruce Jackson. PAGE 10

11 The judging process had involved not only the intensive assessment of the dissertations by Professor Martin Callingham and Bruce Jackson in the days before the Conference, but also considering comments which had been sought from the retail sponsors. The following extracts are illustrative of the feedback provided in confidence. Table 1.3 Retailers comments on their students The student was great to work with he was really keen to understand all facets of our business both from the perspective of us, the retailer, and the suppliers to whom we supply insights projects. He spent time both in our offices as well as with our clients to get a well-rounded view by conducting face to face interviews, and followed those up with telephone conversations to clarify his results. Once we d set up the interviews for him he was very independent in working and definitely a pleasure to work with he kept me in the loop as to how things were going. In terms of results,. this is an interesting piece of work and helps us to put a framework around some of the things we might have intuitively known about what drives satisfaction from our suppliers with our projects, and therefore a framework with which we could measure future projects. I must admit that being in a time-pressured environment we ve yet to consolidate the information into our current ways of working, but will certainly look to in the future. The student is also providing us with a more condensed and business-rather-than-academic focused paper which I m really looking forward to seeing. I picked up the student part way through this project where he was already established that could ve been a tough thing to have to inherit from a colleague but he s been an absolute pleasure to work with. PAGE 11

12 The student was very professional in his approach, and kept in contact on a regular basis throughout his project, via phone, and face to face meetings. He asked sensible questions and also sent me a draft copy of his dissertation so I could check through it for any sensitive information with reference to our methodology and stores. Although the findings from his project didn t produce anything particularly significant for us, it was still worthwhile and the time and effort was appreciated. The student will be presenting his findings to us, and he looked into some additional data for us as a side to the dissertation in terms of the Census 2011 variables and what will be available, so there may be something useful to us in there. The student s work was very good and should provide a benefit to our business. However, he seemed to struggle a little bit with communication and managing of timescales when left to his own devices. The student was good at thinking strategically and exceeded my expectations in understanding the complex nature of his topic in a relatively short time period. The student fought a good fight with the UK Data Service. He received several promises that he d receive the data the next day and received nothing but excuses and out of office auto-responses. We eventually escalated the issue with the ESRC, which prompted him to be told to attend a data training workshop. On completing that he finally received access to the data on one machine at university a week before his dissertation deadline. Given the short time he had, the work that he completed in that week was quite remarkable. He mapped the data and created a functional targeting model for us. Had the UK Data Service released the data sooner, I do believe that the student would have completed all the goals of the project and would have been able to make more use of the variables within the dataset and show how strong a model could have been built. On a personal note, I m happy that I was able to teach the student how to build a propensity model in Excel which may become useful in his future career. He picked the theory up quickly and was enthusiastic and easy to work with. We had the pleasure of working with the student, and have been very impressed with him throughout the project, and feel that he quickly grasped the issues we face and what he needed to do to demonstrate commercial value. My view is that the student has done a first rate job with his dissertation which will be of value to the company commercially in the future. 1.9 Students & supervisors comments on the initiative Comments were also sought from the students: It would also be very helpful if you could in confidence, a short statement of the BEST and MOST FRUSTRATING things about doing a retail dissertation with a private company perhaps things that epitomise the differences in culture between retailing and academia. We received three comments: PAGE 12

13 Table 1.4 Students comments on the initiative Student 1 I think that the main advantage of doing a dissertation with a retail contact is the data that is made available. I think that this also links into the differences between academia and retail companies, as this sort of data would not be accessible if the dissertation was done solely within academia. There weren't many points that I found frustrating as I had a really good experience with my retail contact. I would have benefited from having more meetings with my retail contact but this was constrained by factors such as time availability and distance. I am also confident that if I had asked for more meetings, my retail contact would have been happy to arrange them. I also just wanted to thank you for the opportunity you provided to me for my summer dissertation. I wouldn't have even got an interview for my new job (as a Market Planning Analyst) without having done this. Student 2 Best: I always knew that I wanted to go into a career in retail so the opportunity to work with a respected retailer was invaluable experience. It gave me a lot more drive and determination to know that my dissertation would be applicable to the real world. The experience I gained working with a retailer was very useful when I was interviewing for jobs in the retail sector. It meant I was able to prove my interest and commitment to the field. It is also worth mentioning that my retail partner was extremely helpful throughout the whole project, in terms of both data and advice. Being able to communicate with both an academic supervisor and a retail expert meant all my questions could always be answered. Worst: It is difficult for me to list any real issues, because there weren't any. I think it is very important to make sure you are both able to assist your retailer and write a project which is academically rigorous. However, that wasn't a problem for me as my retail partner said from the start their priority was for me to create a great dissertation. Student 3 The best parts about working for an industrial partner would have to be the ability to learn so much from them, not only in terms of business practices but also the wealth of data that companies can have at their disposal. Team members will often be very helpful and supportive of student work which I found to be surprising. It was also very rewarding to see that my work was valued to them too. The most frustrating parts were that there was a language barrier between business and academic subjects at certain times. Terms that are often used in GIS had to be explained constantly and vice versa with business acronyms and ideas that they needed to explain to me. It was also slightly restrictive in terms of time frames too as they worked to a Monday-Friday 9-5 schedule where as a student can work at any time of the day/week and having to conform to their schedule sometimes conflicted with my own. However in all, a very rewarding experience which I am thankful I could be a part of! An academic supervisor also ed: Feedback from our MSc students is that this is a great scheme. If you need some enthusiastic testimonials from ex-mscs to persuade ESRC of this then let me know PAGE 13

14 All of the conference presentations, together with the programme, details of the speakers, and a list of attendees, were posted at and a video of the whole day s proceedings posted on the ESRC s website at: Other aspects of the Conference, including retailers training needs, and research priorities, are discussed in Sections 3 and 4 below. Further activity following the event to support the students included contacting them to pay their Conference travel and poster expenses, reminding the retail sponsors of their offers to pay travel expenses and 500 stipend on successful completion, and the ESRC paying a 500 bursary to DTC students Discussion and Recommendations 1. Timescales were tight in soliciting, advertising and allocating the M.Sc. dissertation topics. Given the difficult circumstances of the retail sector as a whole, and the short-term fortunes of some of the participants, we consider this to have been a successful exercise. 2. All of the completed projects were judged to be successes by both the retailers and the academic partners. 3. Students valued the experience of accessing real world retail data and working on real world retail problems, and several of the students are known to have progressed to employment in the retail, or retail consultancy, sectors. 4. The focus of the projects might best be described as applied-strategic that is (with one possible exception) they were not commercially exploitable in the short term, but rather gave medium to long-term focus upon problems that preoccupy retailers. Retailers found this to be valuable. 5. Academic supervisors were very supportive of the scheme. The scheme was designed to be inclusive of all universities, but there are foci of interest that could be developed within the setting of some of the ESRC DTCs. 6. There is still some work to be done to clarify the terms under which retailers may be allowed direct or indirect (i.e. through M.Sc. students) access to data at the Data Archive. The timescales under which data might be made available are also of wider strategic concern (especially if secure data access is an issue). 7. Intellectual Property Rights were not raised as an issue with regard to the dissemination of research findings, although students were required to delete all company data once the project had been completed. It is good that retailers were not overly-cautious about potential forfeiting of commercial advantage, but the deletion of student datasets means that other researchers PAGE 14

15 are not able to directly validate, or build upon, the research findings of any of this cohort of students. 8. ESRC remained engaged in the scheme throughout (e.g. through participating in the DUG conference and judging the dissertations). We appreciate this commitment and believe that these commitments are a time effective way of monitoring research priorities in the retail sector. Potential issues for the future of the scheme are: 1. The need for an effective start date at the beginning of January each year, with projects being sought between October and December. 2. Closer linkage of the scheme to DTC priorities and ESRC thinking about co-funding and research impact. At present retailers are required to offer a minimum of 500 to students upon successful delivery of a M.Sc. project plus (typically) a similar amount in respect of travel expenses. Whilst this is not insignificant leverage in relation to investment of ESRC funds, this immediate return upon investment is lower than that realised by some EPSRC DTC initiatives. Yet there is evidence that there is a developing critical mass of interest in retail themed DTCs, which might repay detailed consideration in formulating future research training initiatives at ESRC. The nature of the research undertaken in the M.Sc. projects suggests that any extension to DTC programmes would be similarly high in impact. 3. Clarification of data access protocols to UKDS holdings for the business sector. PAGE 15

16 2. The Retail Research Data website 2.1 The motivation for the prototype website that was created in the first stage of the RR&D programme was to make a selection of core Open Data, relevant to retailers needs, accessible in interactive web map form and downloadable for further use. The context to this is that government has prioritised the wide dissemination of the data that it collects about citizens, yet rather few retailers and academics are aware of what is available, and where. A focus of the 2012 website was upon small area Census statistics, and related indices such as that of deprivation, and the specific brief was that it would include: 1. Small area geodemographic classifications in particular, the Office for National Statistics Output Area Classification (OAC). 2. Small area statistics initially from the 2001 Census, subsequent population updates, dwelling counts, and the Index of Multiple Deprivation. 3. Lists of addresses, with postcodes, and places. 4. Postcode directories for linking postcoded addresses (including customer records) to Output Areas and other geographical areas, or to grid references for mapping. 5. Map data digital boundaries (such as Output Areas), and also background mapping. 6. Sample surveys giving lots of detail about particular topics. In 2013 the priority was to add small area 2011 Census of Population Statistics as these became available, and to illustrate how these could be used to create small area composite indicators of retail market potential. The work was hampered by the delay in the availability of the Scottish Census data (which finally became available in December). However, statistics for England and Wales were included in a new release (Version 3) of the website in September, which was publicised to members of the Demographics User Group, attracting favourable comments: The data sets look like exactly the type of base data that people would require. (M&S) It certainly has potential, and the mapping tool in particular will be very useful. (British Gas) The September release was also used as a forum for evaluating a new preliminary Output Area Classification based on 2011 Census data that was created through a partnership with the Office for National Statistics. The views of a number of stakeholders, including the Co-operative Group, were solicited throughout the design stages of the classification. PAGE 16

17 An additional Help facility, to help new users to get started, was added to the FAQ part of the website, and included in Version 4, which was released in January 2014, and publicised more widely, using LinkedIn retail fora, which triggered several Likes and comments: This is likely to be useful for small planning consultancies like my own. Christine Reeves, Independent Retail Planning Consultant Thanks very useful! Ben Smith, Consultant to Telefonica Dynamic Insights This is an excellent resource. It will be very useful for teaching purposes as well as students' research projects. Patricia Harris, Principal Lecturer at Kingston University A nice collation of resources. Is the intention to expand the list? John Rae, Partner (Data and product development) at CACI Ltd The website has been successful technically, but uptake has been slow. This has principally been because of the delayed release of the 2011 Census statistics for Scotland, which in turn have delayed the release of the final OAC classification. The Google Analytics of the site are provided in Figure 2.1. Figure 2.1. Retail Research Data Usage Statistics (31 Dec, Jan, 2014) PAGE 17

18 The usage statistics shows that most users have only accessed the site on a single occasion. The numbers of pages viewed per user is low, suggesting that users have made use of the site in order to resolve specific questions, but do not yet use the website as a means of linking datasets in a single sitting. 2.2 Discussion and Recommendations The RR&D website remains at the proof of concept stage. It is early days to assess the implications of these statistics for future development of the website but we recommend that these be focused upon: 1. Publicising the release of the 2011 OAC, when this becomes available, in order to galvanise interest in the retail, academic and government sectors. 2. Efforts to acquire other retailer-relevant data that may be posted on the site in non-disclosive form. Alex Singleton s (University of Liverpool) Impact Uplift dataset ( Mapping Variations in Retail Sector Business Rates ), created in partnership with the Local Data Company, is one prominent example, but others are likely to be created from other ESRC projects (e.g. the ESRC Knowledge Exchange Opportunities Programme) and investments (e.g. the ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre). 3. Use of the website as a forum for evaluating new datasets in the context of retailer and applied research needs. 4. A clear strategy for website support and maintenance from February A strategy for further engaging small and medium sized enterprises. PAGE 18

19 3. Support for BIS, and developing the ESRC s retail contacts The Data Navigators were required to support ESRC s work with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) by feeding in to its work with the retail sector, such as providing input to the Retail and the Research Base seminar (February 2013), and engaging with the BIS retail sector STEM skills consultation. Such support will be provided as it is needed throughout the year. Considerable effort was made throughout the year to help both BIS and the ESRC to develop their retail contacts. At a strategic level, Keith Dugmore brokered a meeting between Clive Humby (progenitor of Tesco s Clubcard) and Paul Boyle (January), and arranged for Paul Boyle to present to the Demographics User Group on 28 June. Keith introduced many of the named contacts who formed the basis of the well-attended ESRC Retail Sector Breakfast event on 2 nd August, and actively participated in the meeting. Keith Dugmore and Paul Longley also worked with senior staff at ESRC staff in developing ESRC s aspects of ESRC s Big Data Initiative submission to BIS. Keith and Paul ensured strong ESRC representation at the Demographics User Group (DUG) Annual Conference on 9 October. This included sessions on research issues in retailing and a skills training workshop session linking to the ESRC/Nuffield Q-Step initiative, led by Nuffield s Sharon Witherspoon (see Annex B1). One indicator of the developing strength of links between retail companies and the ESRC was that the DUG members chose to give their 2013 Annual Award to the ESRC for its increasing focus on retail research and developing training in quantitative skills. The citation read: During the last two decades, retail companies have become very data-rich. Businesses which provide a wide range of services to millions of customers every day make use of data from many different sources especially government to make decisions about their operations and future investments. Many have also accumulated large files of information to better understand customers, their transactions, and locations. However, until recently, there has only been modest interest and support for academic research in this area. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has now taken very significant steps to change this, with a series of initiatives to increase the academic focus on retail research, and also to develop training in quantitative skills. Members of the Demographics User Group (DUG) warmly welcome these PAGE 19

20 developments, which will increase understanding, trigger innovation, improve services to customers, and promote efficiency and growth. Companies, universities and government departments represented at the Conference were: Barclays, Boots, Camelot, Co-op, Data Strategy Board, Deloitte, DWP, E.ON, Experian, Financial Times, Forester Life, GSK, HMRC, House of Commons Library, John Lewis, Just Eat Manchester Geomatics, Marks & Spencer, Nottingham Trent University, Nuffield Foundation, O2, ONS, Sainsbury s, Serco, Swinton, Telefonica, Tesco, UCL, UK Statistics Authority, University of Leeds, University of Leicester, University of Liverpool, University of Nottingham, University of Portsmouth, University of Southampton, University of Surrey, Virgin Insight, and Whitbread We believe that the ESRC Retail Masters Student Dissertation Programme is an initiative that provides a suitable model for further development in relation to the recent BIS Select Committee Retail Sector report, the findings and recommendations published on 4 March RR&D activities have also been relevant to developing the case for a wholesale review of business rates, to relating STEM skills to retail analysis, and a broader audit of the ways in which the retail industry can benefit from interactions with the research community. Other relevant activities were: Said Business School ESRC sponsored retail conference (Longley, Oxford, 25 Jan) Presentation on the Retail Data Navigator activities to ESRC Council (Dugmore, Swindon, 19 Feb) Retail Sector Workshop/Retail Knowledge Exchange Opportunities programme launch (Longley, London, 28 Feb) BIS Retail Research Base seminar (Dugmore, London, 12 March) Association of Convenience Stores Summit on Panel (Dugmore, Longley: Birmingham, 15 April) UK Data Service Governing Board (Dugmore and Longley, 14 May & 19 Nov too KD & PAL at both) UK Data Forum (Dugmore, 20 May) Local Data Company Retail Summit (Dugmore, Longley: London, 4 June) ESRC Training & Skills Committee presentation (Longley: London, 12 July) ESRC Retail Sector Initiative Grant Assessment Panels, retail Knowledge Exchange Opportunities and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships in the retail sector (Dugmore: London, 9 Aug) PAGE 20

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