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Analysis reveals the secrets of shopping and business gets off

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Italy, July, 2017
La Stampa

What impact on sales does a change in the price of a product have?

Which pieces do customers like more when sold with promotions?

And what colour do people prefer in a specific month of the year? 

24-year-old Elena Pesce is one of the students who will graduate next week with a Master’s Degree in Stochastics and Data Science who has tried to answer all these questions by using data. 

She did this during a three-month internship in Turin, in the Italian office of Evo Pricing, the startup founded by Fabrizio Fantini, who since 2013 has helped shops to make the right decision through numbers. 

"However, you don’t have to believe that we based our answers only on numbers," says this native of Novi Ligure on the eve of her graduation. "Final decisions are always made by talking to people who are in the business, owners, shopkeepers who know customers, and external factors that can change their behaviour, such as weather or holidays. It is a very interesting aspect, which I underestimated as I usually think only about data." 

Data has been Elena's great passion since the end of high school. For her Bachelor’s Degree, at the University of Genoa, she studied statistics, mathematical and computer data processing. A very practical course, where a company internship was already planned. 

Then, in October 2015, the decision to take the regional train in the opposite direction. No more heading to Liguria, crossing the heart of the mountains, but along the lowlands, towards Turin. Here, in March, when she finished exams early, she met Evo Pricing. 

"I have been working on developing a price tracking system adopted by a Mexican chain of technology stores, but applicable in any retail outlet," she says. 

How is it done? 

It starts from sales data, present and past dates, refined and interrogated through the R statistical program to obtain useful information for the company. "I have studied, in particular, the influence of promotions, to plan future marketing strategies," continues Elena. 

And she explains: "If, doing a hypothesis, numbers tell us that in July, many discounted red bathing suits were purchased, then, for the following year, it would be valuable to suggest a similar offer."

Knowledge of which the student will now treasure in her next training course that will take back her to Genoa: a PhD in Mathematical Methods and Data Analysis, financed by Swiss Re, the second biggest reinsurance (that is, the insurance of insurance) company in the world, which is also located in the Ligurian capital. "There I will do research in this field, which is constantly and rapidly evolving like, for the other part, the economic models." 

And Evo Pricing will continue with other companies to be part of the committee of Stochastics and Data science course. "It's a deal in step with the times," says Fabrizio Fantini, founder of Evo Pricing. "It is no coincidence that, after being born in London, we have established our Italian headquarters in Turin."

 

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