The author mentions his thirty-plus years of experience as a retail analyst in service to businesses of various sizes and in different nations. His task is to derive meaning from masses of information and eliminate the gray areas as much as possible - and perhaps to too great a degree. Some things cannot be reduced to binary logic.

Particularly when dealing with human behavior, what is true of one group may not be true of another. Retail analytics uses numerical models to consider customer behavior, and those models are based on certain assumptions: if the assumptions are not correct, the outcome of the analysis will be likewise incorrect and the business will be misguided rather than informed.

His work in consulting with firms that wish to develop analytics software was particularly illustrative in this manner: firms wish to buy a shrink-wrapped solution that they can plug in and get the precise information they need to run their businesses. Software developers seek to satisfy this desire. Neither seems to consider that there is no solution that will fit the needs of every business and provide analysis that is accurate in all markets. Analytics is "an art as much as a science."

As part of that process, and his work in general, the author has considered the practice of retail analytics, documenting many of the fundamental concepts as a way to communicate them to his clients and colleagues. The present book is the result of years of such documentation. He didn't really set out to write a book, but looking over his collection of notes, that turned out to be exactly what he was doing.

This book, like those notes, is intended to illustrate and explain the practice of retail analytics to those who have a sense that metrics are important, but who may lack a clear sense of what is meaningful or valuable among all the various data that could be analyzed.

He also concedes that much of his career has been in the financial services industry, specifically in marketing credit card products, and is a bit concerned that the reader may not see some of the examples he provides as being relevant to other industries and products. As much as retailers purport that their sector is unique - that offering shoes or tires or credit cards and whether they are sold to the masses or the affluent few makes what they do different to any other form of retail - there are many commonalities and the idiosyncratic aspects of a specific product or market are small in comparison to the traits that are common to the practices of retailing across the board.