In a previous post, we explored the challenges that product vendors and distributors face when they have poor visibility into retail sales and inventory data.  Missed opportunities abound, including:

  • Repeat out-of-stock incidents that are never systemically corrected
  • Chronically sub-optimized marketing investments
  • ‘Short’ or expedited shipments due to surprise orders from retailers

The list goes on and on.

Lifting the Veil of Darkness on Retail Data

But as our work with vendors in multiple retail industries and segments has revealed, time and time again, the mere fact that the veil of darkness has been lifted somewhat by the sharing of retail data does not in and of itself mitigate the missed opportunities outlined above.

In most cases, vendors in this position are still not leveraging this retail data to achieve the joint business goals that presumably motivated the retailer to share the information with them in the first place.

Persistent Missed Opportunities

We’ve worked with many product manufacturers whose salespeople or account managers spend a significant amount of time each week doing their best impersonation of a data analyst.  They are either:

(a) Struggling with a retailer’s overly complex vendor reporting portal that incurs significant pain and suffering to generate even the simplest of reports;

(b) Attempting to jam unwieldy raw data files into their own custom-created personal spreadsheet that they’ve devised to track account progress;

(c)  Spinning their wheels trying to track down the person responsible for the clumsy data file that they’re working with that they just realized is not accurate;

(d) Putting together pretty charts and slides to share the high level trends with their executives or with their retail buyers; or

(e) All of the above.

What they are not doing is spending their time truly understanding the granular insights from the retail data that are going to help them and their account make their numbers this quarter.

Drilling Down to the Why and Where of Your Retail Data

While it’s great to report the ‘what’ of year-over-year progress or progress against budget, what’s really critical in moving the ball forward is keying in on the ‘why’ and ‘where’.

  • Where are we moving the most product?
  • Where are we missing opportunities?
  • Why are our in-store or out-of-store marketing promotions not resulting in the level of lift that we expect in all stores?
  • Why are we doing so well in the northeast but not in the southwest?

Even more frustrating is the fact that in many cases, the supply chain folks at these product manufacturers are engaging in the very same time-consuming data management activities with a view to planning and optimizing the company’s production or logistics operations.

But because they operate in their own silo, any work – and more importantly – insights gleaned from this separate work stream are not shared between these two key halves of the same organization.

In these cases, the problem isn’t so much the lack of retail data as it is the lack of actionable insights being generated from the data.  Aggregate top-level trends and averages are being calculated and tracked, but these numbers are hiding the real store-by-store retail execution opportunities and challenges that lie beneath.

Getting the Most Out of Your Retail Data

An integrated analytics solution that empowers the entire enterprise to unlock the value of retail data across the organization is the promise of purpose-built Big Data analytics cloud solutions.

By allowing users across sales, marketing and operations to focus on and share the ‘so-what’s’ from the data without worrying about the data management itself, retail-focused Big Data solutions turn Big Headaches into Big Insights and Big Opportunities.

With the entire organization singing from the same song-sheet – literally – sales and marketing decisions are synched with supply chain actions to ensure that retail account opportunities are being maximized in terms of product merchandising, marketing and availability.

Your Turn

Are you getting the most out of your retail data? Are you using a big data solution that provides visibility into the Why and How?