Frequently Asked Questions

How do subscriptions work?

We offer a variety of subscriptions customized to meet each client’s needs- large or small. We are a service oriented business, so even our software subscriptions include some level of personal engagement with the ERS experts. Consulting engagements are priced based on the complexity of the scope, time required and priority. Software subscriptions are based on amount of POS data, number of users and modules selected. Both consulting and software subscriptions are monthly with minimum terms of 6 months.

What do we need to get started?

Most engagements can begin with the most basic data: sales and inventory by item (preferably by store). We also prefer to receive an item attribute cross reference file so reporting can be more robust.

Next, or often simultaneously, we need a stream of data set up that includes sales and inventory delivered weekly or at your preferred cadence. That data can be an EDI 852 file, spreadsheet or text file downloaded from a portal or emailed. We can receive data via FTP, AS2, email or a carbon copy from your EDI VAN. We can also integrate wholesale inventory and WIP from a file extracted from your ERP system.

Our service team will work with you on other components depending on your subscription.

How are subscriptions priced?

Pricing for basic reporting starts at $500 per month. Consulting fees are based on the scope of the engagement and the level of involvement required. Consulting engagements start at $1,000 per month. Our solutions are competitively priced and very affordable when you consider the high ROI.

What is the difference between consulting and software subscriptions?

Software service subscriptions include our reporting, best practices, item planning and forecasting tools available over the web 24/7. They allow users free reign to generate the information they need to make better merchandising decisions. Consulting subscriptions are customized for each client and offer a very broad range of scope. Retail and wholesale reporting, forecasting, retail analysis, wholesale planning, buying and allocation processes and system development, research and much more. Consulting offers a more personal relationship- in many cases we are an outsourced planning team or complement in-house planning teams.

Can’t we use one of the common visualization tools for retail analysis?

The software market offers several good data aggregation and visualization tools, and in many cases our clients are already using them and help provide data. But that’s where it ends. Those systems are not specifically designed with the art and science of interpreting retail and wholesale data and don’t help you determine how much to buy or when. They don’t take into considerations all the questions that must be asked to properly run the business. Our subscriptions are based on expertise- the tried an true best practices or customizations required to make your business run more efficiently and profitably.

What are the key benefits of ERS services and reports?

We have helped companies of all sizes significantly improve their inventory productivity, revenue and profit. Our tools are designed to uncover actionable opportunities and liabilities that would otherwise go unnoticed. A typical story we get is of companies spending the majority of their time simply receiving and formatting their data, and consequently very little time to interpret what the data is trying to tell them.

Clients have used our data to recommend better optimized allocation by store, drive eCommerce sales, automate forecasts, plan wholesale buys, determine lost sales by SKU-store, help reduce end of season margin money requests, create a more collaborative dialogue between suppliers and buyers and much more.

Additionally, the ROI can be huge when using  our tools to optimize store allocation for tests, and then the expansion of those tests.

Who is the best person in our organization to work with ERS?

We work best when we have an engaged point person on the client side who will be using the data themselves and see the benefits of our work. It depends on the engagement but our contact person is usually a retail/wholesale planner, key account manager or project manager. For some organizations we are the planning department and report directly to executives, for other companies we complement the planning team and work with the client’s head of planning.

Which retailers do you gather POS data from?

Collecting and managing POS data from multiple retailers is time consuming and not always straightforward. Our service removes this pain point from our clients. We can work with virtually any data including Target, Kohl’s, JC Penney, Walmart, BJ’s, Meijer, Sam’s Club, Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowes, Amazon, Wayfair, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, Bed Bath & Beyond, AAFES, Academy, Beall’s, Belk, Buy buy baby, Canadian Tire, Dillard’s, Dollar General, Family Dollar, HSN, Kroger, Michael’s, QVC, PC Richard, Sears and more. We can use ship data for independent shops or small chains that don’t offer an automated sales data feed. We can also integrate data from distributors, internal or direct eCommerce sites and more. We can work with EDI, Excel, text, PDF and other non standard formats. Learn more here.

Can we load history, and how much?

Yes. As long as you have the data and it is in a structured or even semi-structured format we can load as much data as needed. Our subscriptions include 2 years of rolling history, extra charges may apply for additional years.

Do your solutions work for both Brick & Mortar and eCommerce?

Yes, we integrate both store and online/dotcom sales data to give a total view of the business. We have specific reports and functions focused on optimizing store level inventory, and a different set for eCommerce including drop ship.

Can’t we just do this all in a spreadsheet?

Yes, but be prepared to not have the time or ability to optimize your business, and see that your team is spending more time preparing reports than taking action or making more effective use of their time. We love Excel, in fact we deliver many completed reports in Excel, but you need more technical sophistication and expertise to truly optimize the Big Data  behind your planning efforts.

What resources are required to work with ERS?

The scope of the engagement determines how much is required from the client side, which could include providing data and feedback. We offer various service levels from end-to-end automation and delivery of reports and forecasts to DIY software. 

How long does it take to onboard?

It depends on the engagement. Getting the data needed for reporting and forecasting is step one. For some retailers that is 1 day, for others 30 days. Our reporting software can be learned quickly in 1-2 weeks. Forecasting requires more time for set up and is generally 30-90 days depending on how much data there is.

Do your solutions only work for continuing, replenishment items?

No. We offer many tools for replenishment- forecasts, VMI, allocation, wholesale planning, etc. Our reporting and seasonal analysis is very strong for fashion and helps the sales and planning teams as well as designers.

What does your forecasting model look like?

We can create custom forecasts based on your business model. Our “off the shelf” forecast uses a combination of history, store level detail, seasonality and a variety of business rules to constantly provide the most accurate forecasts and inventory plans possible. Read more here.

What is VMI (Vendor Managed Inventory)?

Vendor Managed Inventory is when a retailer “turns over” the inventory management and allocation process to their trusted supplier. The supplier uses their resources to analyze sales and inventory at store level and replenish as necessary. The supplier is responsible for inventory levels throughout the chain. ERS offers a mostly automated system to analyze each store’s performance and calculate inventory needs each week. The results can be reviewed, adjusted if necessary and then released. Finally, PO’s are written. See more here

Who should be looking at the work ERS produces?

We design dashboards and reporting interprets data for retailers, manufacturers, distributors, brands and licensors- at every level of their organizations: C-Suite executives, FEOs in finance, CEOs, buyers, project managers, production planners, store execution planners, licensor managers, retail analysts, 3M Warehouse managers, assortment planners, category managers, data scientists and more. Additionally with some subscriptions reports can be emailed to unlicensed people.

What levels of reporting are available?

It depends on the level that data is received. We recommend store level data because it can be rolled to the desired level. Most frequently we get that data on a weekly basis.

Subsequently, we offer 40 attribute fields that enable a plethora of levels that can be analyzed. Hierarchies for both merchandise (category, department, brand, chain, store, etc.) and geography (store, state, region, cluster, etc.) can all be configured. Unlike standard software subscriptions, our consulting arm enables us to build reports at virtually any level and include or exclude different fields based on your needs.

What is the frequency/availability of consulting and reporting?

For our on-line software, reports are available 24/7 to provide reports when you need them. Reports can be created on the fly or scheduled to run at specific times, any time after data loads. For consulting engagements we offer various touch base schedules and strategy sessions, reporting can be completely customized and delivered as needed.

What time periods are available in reporting?

It Depends on the frequency of data. Most common are weekly, monthly, quarterly and comparisons- TY v LY, week over week, month over month, etc. We also offer a custom time frame builder for promotions and calendar shifts. For example- Holiday TY v LY, based on the dates you select.