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North American Brands Leading The Digital Drive, says Nextail Report

By Partner


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North American fashion and lifestyle retailers are leading the way in “data-forwardness” as they invest heavily in the use of AI and machine learning.

A study compiled by Nextail shows North American retailers have been gaining on their European counterparts in the last year. Seven of the top 10 brands, ranked for their investment in data-scientists and other data-related professionals as a proportion of their annual revenue, hailed from the continent.

The findings were reached following analysis of the hiring patterns of 22 leading global fashion companies to create the Retail Data-Forwardness Index (RDI). Top of the list was Levi Strauss & Co, followed by sportswear giants Lululemon and Nike.

The RDI has been devised by Nextail to better measure how much of their overall budget fashion businesses are investing in data science, data analysis, and artificial intelligence by way of such hires. It divides the number of data-related employees by the overall revenue for each retailer to create a score which is then ranked against comparable retailers and brands

For it’s part, Levi Strauss has significantly increased the number of data recruits in the last year, nearly doubling its Retail Data-forwardness (RD) score from the year before, and reaching the highest RD score on record at 27.4 data-related professionals per US $1 Billion.

Earlier this year (not included in these figures) Levi’s set up a Machine Learning Bootcamp with the stated objective to “transform the company into a data- and artificial intelligence-powered business”. Employees are being given intensive training in coding, machine learning, and agile ways of working.

Says Joaquin Villalba, Nextail’s CEO and Co-founder: “More than ever, fashion brands and retailers are investing in data management in order to future-proof their operations. These professionals empower brands to better interpret data and work with advanced tech across an organisation.”

“The major North American brand owners are clearly ahead of the curve and have built-up their in-house teams. But with the growth of platforms such as Nextail, brands of all sizes can harness the data in their business to improve the buying and merchandising process and increase customer satisfaction.”

Following on from the top three were: PVH, VF Corp, Ralph Lauren and Gap. For the 3rd consecutive year, Nike outranked other indexed companies as the brand with the highest weight of data-related employees over total headcount at 1.10%. The sportswear sector generally ranked as the most retail data-forward category with an aggregated RD of 14.5, a 13.8% growth over 2020.

Nextail is an algorithmic merchandising solutions provider for fashion and collection-based retailers including Versace, River Island, Pepe Jeans, Woolrich, and more. By applying AI and prescriptive analytics, Nextail provides hyper-local probabilistic demand forecasting and agile process automation. Nextail will be taking part at the NRF 2022: Retail’s Big Show in New York, 16-18th January, located at booth 1035.

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