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4 Tips For Retailers To Improve Visibility Into Their Company Data

Using a magnifying glass to put puzzle pieces together

To know where your business is going, you need to know where it’s been. That’s where data visibility comes in. It refers to capturing pertinent information for key business functions, such as replenishment, pricing and financial reporting. So retailers should ask themselves if they have insight into company data to perform analytics against and help make well-informed, strategic business decisions.

Here are four ways that retailers can improve visibility in their company data.

  1. Ensure that you can capture key data: Say a retailer wants to know more about the demographics of its customers. Consumer information is a key data set that can be captured through a loyalty program. But to make a customer loyalty program a useful source for company reports, the program should be integrated with the store’s point-of-sale and back office systems. If the retailer has an online store, the customer loyalty program should also extend to the retailer’s e-commerce system. Essentially, if a retailer is not capturing information in a centralized way, it will not have the data visibility to create effective reports.
  2. Eliminate “islands of data”: The term “islands of data,” or “islands of automation,” describes the separation of data gathering among the business operation systems. For example, a retailer’s POS system may be able to capture necessary data, but if it’s not integrated with the back office system, then the retailer may need to input data in a summary form to get the minimal information it needs. An integrated system eliminates these islands of automation.
  3. Explore the features of your ERP or POS system: Retailers don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating company reports. A fully functional ERP or POS system has the bells and whistles to analyze data, create company reports and perform a variety of different functions that help grow the business. Even with all the data-intensive features that ERP systems have to offer, some retailers don’t realize what they have at their fingertips. When ERP systems are set up correctly and people are trained to use them effectively, they create another funnel of data that completes the big picture of retail strategy.

    For example, one feature could help with upselling. If a customer is purchasing a specific product at the cash register, the POS system could display a specific question or product recommendation to the customer. The POS system could recommend purchasing a warranty or batteries along with the purchase, for instance.

  4. Produce reports with out-of-the-box or advanced features: ERP systems have the flexibility to create hundreds of views into your data. An easy-to-use interface helps retailers to compile data and produce a fairly basic report, but the system also offers customizable features that may require a technical data skill set. An ERP system can create a summary dashboard using typographic designs, making it easier to digest a lot of numbers and words. Another feature is the ability to integrate reports with Microsoft Office applications, such as exporting data into an Excel spreadsheet. That option could make it easier for an employee to obtain company data and make additional calculations in an Excel format.

It’s not enough for an ERP system to crunch numbers. These four tips can help retailers improve visibility of their company data, which consequently makes business reporting more meaningful and understandable.

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