Today’s retailers collect more customer data than ever before. And, while everyone agrees data-based insights are valuable, helping to identify trends, maximize inventory, and drive sales growth, many retailers suffer from a case of information overload. Left unchecked, information overload can develop into full-blown FOD – Fear of Data.
It’s a common problem. An estimated 73 percent of data compiled goes unused, with retailers citing lack of time, lack of knowledge, and cost concerns as the top reasons for not doing more with their retail data. Turning data into insights that guide decisions, personalize marketing, and increase efficiencies doesn’t have to be daunting. The cure for FOD starts with focus, carries through with automation, and ends with data-driven decisions.
Decide what matters
When it comes to customer data, more isn’t necessarily better. The biggest cause of data overload is the sheer volume available. Instead of trying to wrangle and review every retail data point, smart retailers narrow the focus and determine the most important metrics to track. Start by defining the baseline data points in three main areas.
- Customer profiles: Today, customer loyalty is built on creating memorable, personalized shopping experiences. Capture customer information, such as email address, phone number, purchase history (both dates and items), customer anniversary, sizes or product preferences, and loyalty program status. Along with making it easy to compile individual customer details, your point-of-sale (POS) system should also make the information easy to access. Having customer profiles at their fingertips helps retail sales associates turn routine checkouts into customized, memorable experiences.
- Inventory details: Anticipating customer demand and having the right items in stock when customers want to buy is a critical element for competitive differentiation. Basic inventory management requires tracking current in-stock items by SKU, order history, fast- and slow-moving items, and profit margins by item.
- Marketing responses: The ability to turn customer and inventory data into targeted marketing campaigns can help drive repeat visits and deepen customer loyalty. Capture response rates tied to promotional campaigns, such as open and click-through rates for email marketing or usage rates for coupons and promotional codes. And look to your POS system to make it easy with integration options for social media and email marketing tools.
Automate, automate, automate
Data feels daunting when it’s difficult to put together. Eliminate the need to maintain separate spreadsheets or manually compile data from different sources. Choose a POS system that serves as a centralized data hub, integrating customer, sales, and inventory data from both in-person and online channels.
To make data management simple, leverage your POS to aggregate and automate standard reports to ensure you have ongoing, easy access to the information you need. Common automated retail reports include:
- Customer: Keep your eye on three core customer views.
- Best customers: A regular report showing your top customers and their purchase activity during a defined period will help you identify behavior changes, evolving trends, and opportunities for promotions.
- New customers: Automate a report showing first-time customers and what they purchase to gain insights to inform marketing as well as potential packaged offers. Plus, use the list to send targeted email marketing messages and personalized thank you notes.
- Dormant customers: Just as important as tracking your best customers, check in regularly to understand which customers haven’t purchased in a while. This can be an important business indicator, as well as an opportunity for targeted re-engagement promotions or personal outreach.
- Sales: Daily, weekly, and monthly sales reports are critical to gauge the ongoing health of your business. Dial the level of detail up or down so that each report has a distinct purpose, like supporting day-to-day decisions or tracking sales trends over time. For example, your monthly report should give you a summary, showing sales totals and how they line up against your objectives, previous months, and year-over-year. Daily or weekly sales reports can spotlight details you can leverage in the short-term, such as top-selling items, sales per associate, and sales patterns by the day of the week or time of day.
- Inventory: Inventory management is the pulse of any retail business. Along with automating weekly or monthly on-hand reports that provide counts and changes, include the cost of goods, and set alerts to notify you when items are nearing their re-order points. Run best seller reports on a regular basis as well to uncover insights on exactly what’s selling and what’s not.
Let your retail data drive
With your customer profiles, inventory and marketing management, and automated reports set, you’re well on your way to optimizing your data advantages and making data-driven decisions. Over time, as you monitor sales reports, purchasing patterns, and inventory turnover rates, it will be easy to identify strategic opportunities to do additional analysis without being overwhelmed by your data. For more on how to harness the differentiating power of your data, download our guide, Data-driven Decisions: The Definitive Guide for Retailers. POSIM – a point-of-sale and inventory management system – makes it possible. Contact us for a demo today.