Looks from Rue21.com.

Fast-fashion retailer Rue21 said today that it has employed the University of Liverpool’s “action learning” methodology to drive growth while fully adopting First Insight’s predictive analytics technology.

Initially, the company began working with First Insight Inc. for the implementation of consumer-driven predictive analytics for design, buying, planning and pricing decisions, according to the firm. After three months of effective change, Rue21 applied action learning with executives, merchandising teams and planning and inventory teams, eventually adopting the full solution.

Action learning, described as an “experience-based and action-oriented” approach to organizational learning, is used for streamlining and democratizing collaboration across organizations. Mark Chrystal, chief analytics officer at Rue21, and a graduate of the University of Liverpool’s Doctorate in Business Administration program, said he incorporated the “action learning process” while studying at the university.

First Insight’s solution enables Rue21 to “evaluate a greater number of products and reflect direct consumer input in their buying decisions,” the company said, through its customer-centric merchandising platform that relies on predictive analytics and machine learning models to scout optimal product suggestions and opportunities. Key factors analyzed include real-time preference, pricing and sentiment data on potential product offerings, which are gathered by online social engagement tools.

Chrystal said, “Too often organizations take a top-down approach when trying to integrate new solutions into the company. Action learning empowered the merchandising team at Rue21 and has given a voice to every individual, no matter the level. Organizational adoption of the First Insight technology and its incorporation into our business processes has been instrumental in improving our business performance. We have already seen margin improvements of up to 600 basis points on the products we have processed through the First Insight platform.”

Action learning’s process creates a “multiplier effect” between the individual and organizational learning, according to Clare Rigg, senior lecturer, director of studies, and doctorate in business administration at the University of Liverpool. “I’ve found that learning derives from taking action and asking insightful questions about urgent problems or enticing opportunities.” Rigg added, “Action learning combines action and feedback, asking fresh questions and learning from and with peers,” and said, “I commend Rue21 on their successful use of the approach and am excited about the results they are already seeing.”

Greg Petro, founder and chief executive officer at First Insight, said, “A big challenge for organizations introducing any new concept or technology is hesitancy and resistance. Organizations are able to get our solution up and running fast, but it still requires full adoption of the technology to achieve the best results. Rue21 provides an exemplary case study of how to do this quickly and efficiently.”

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