The retail industry is gigantic and varied, with products ranging from lumber to lipstick. And while many of the needs of each product vertical are grossly different from one another, there will always be a few similarities. Despite these varied needs, similar pain points begin to rear their heads and cause headaches and frustration. It doesn’t have to be this way. A retail sales enablement platform can help sort out issues and communicate value you may not have known existed in addition to making your job easier.

Data Collection and Cleaning

It’s no secret that gathering, cleaning, and analyzing retail sales data is difficult and time-consuming. The raw data can be confusing, complicated, and it’s near-impossible to glean meaning without expensive investment of effort. Even relatively streamlined services, like vendor portals, can be slow and frustrating come reporting day.

If you’re a vendor with multiple retailers, the problem is compounded. Most retailers have their own style of reporting, and formatting multiple different retailers’ data to match each other is a full-time job. On top of that, different retailers will have different SKUs for the same products, and matching them (generally) has to be done manually.

All this processing comes with a huge headache, frustration, and the cost of time better spent elsewhere. However, clean, accurate data is indispensable to vendors. The ability to see your business’s health and current trends cannot be overstated. Understanding how you’re doing at multiple levels — by SKU, by store, by retailer, by region, or by any combination of levels — means that you have a treasure trove of useful, actionable information that enables good decision making.

Enabling Field Sales Reps

Because a vendor is often running on very little or unclear data, there is often a lack of clarity regarding where products are selling well and where they are lagging behind. An underperforming SKU can be the result of a number of different problems, but you will never know exactly which one unless you send a field rep to check it out.

In other words, having good-quality data enables your field sales representatives to allocate their time and resources where they’re needed the most. They have an alarm system telling them to go to a certain store and see what the problem is, and then work with the store manager to fix it. Often, the problem is as simple as products not being on the shelves or a lack of inventory that went unreported, a simple fix that isn’t time consuming but can make a large difference.

Oftentimes, however, the problem is more complicated. If your products were moved to, say, the back of the store (for whatever reason), your rep needs to convince the store manager to move them back to their original spot (or better). The best way to persuade someone in the retail world is to use cold, hard facts.

A big benefit of Askuity’s platform is our mobile app, enabling field sales representatives to pull up information or reports on the spot through the app or by scanning a barcode. For more detail on how Askuity’s mobile app enables field sales teams, check out how we help a leading manufacturer of engineered building products hit and exceed their sales targets.

Planogram Tracking

If you asked the average vendor which planogram (or product assortment) gives the most consistently effective results, they would be hard pressed for an answer. What may seem like a relatively small detail can have a massive impact on a vendor’s bottom line, and it can never hurt to be more informed about your retail presence.

Planograms do matter. A poorly optimized planogram means slow inventory turnover and frustrated potential consumers. A customer who knows at least some of your products are stocked in a retail location is going to be disappointed to arrive in store and see that the specific product they’re looking for isn’t stocked — they’re going to either buy your competitor’s product or leave empty-handed and unhappy.

Using retail sales data analysis lets you be as knowledgeable as possible when it comes to your own products. What is your lowest performing SKU? Why is it doing poorly? It could be because of inventory problems, or because it just hasn’t made it to the shelves, or any number of other possibilities — you won’t know without data to tell you there’s a problem.

Having data available allows you to see how planograms are performing at the store level. When it comes to individual locations, there is no one size fits all planogram. Demographics of the area, seasonality, promotions, and store location will all play a factor on whether or not a SKU will sell. Customizing your selection to cater to the customer base, their habits and predicted behaviour in the future will optimize your sales and maximize your use of shelf space.