By Jim Lewis, CEO Enhanced Retail Solutions LLC
The New Year is a perfect time to take stock of your strategic and tactical business plans. For many of our clients, 2022 was a year of playing defense- a constant battle to track production, monitor sales trends and trying to predict what the consumer wants. That forced them to focus on the priorities. Many called for simplification or consolidation of POS reports and analytics to align with those priorities.
That gave us an opportunity to think about how to better leverage the data they collect. POS data management is still a major pain point for many manufacturers, and they end up spending more time getting the data than using it. And many of them are still mired in a multitude of spreadsheets that are not easy to share, collaborate or standardize.
Leveraging Visualization Tools
In several cases, we were able to convert 4-5 reports into one PowerBI dashboard. It visualizes the business and then provides key statistics to prioritize action. For example, items with too much inventory, best-selling new items, stores that are sold out, etc. To reduce the complaint of “I want all my data”, we introduced a tab where a planner can filter the raw data and then dump it out. They soon realized they didn’t need to do that because the dashboard had already filtered the data to exactly what they needed to focus on.
The strategy is simple- align reports and tools to support the business goals and consolidate the fluff. It’s easy for a company to fall into a trap if all they know is how they have done things internally. Sometimes expertise from the outside can jump frog their productivity. That’s one of the reasons our consulting business is strong- we have many best practices for many types of businesses and industries that we can almost always make a company more efficient.
So, what will 2023 bring? Nobody knows. The economy, global uncertainty and health issues are all continuing concerns. Thankfully, supply chain issues have eased. But we learned a lot of hard lessons on buying, didn’t we? I have 3 recommendations for 2023, all of them are simple and not surprising:
- Monitor sales against ownership (on hand + on order) on EVERY SINGLE SKU. We have the technology and tools to do it easily so there is no reason why you shouldn’t do it.
- Don’t forget about good old-fashioned, hands-on merchandising. Many mistakes were made by some large retailers who forgot the fundamentals, like not replenishing key items.
- Leverage technology with expertise. Visualization tools are more reasonably priced but seek outside help. Curators like ERS can help set them up to speak the language of retail and wholesale and take advantage of their built-in intelligence.
I’m incredibly excited about 2023. We can make so much more use of data in simpler ways. We have always provided actionable insights- it’s why we have clients that have been with us over 20 years. Now we can give them even more value for their dollar- more insights, greater visibility, and more accurate inventory planning.