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4 Ways To Pan Information From Your Retail ERP Software’s Data Goldmine

Analyzing retail data on a tablet

Retail ERP software provides a goldmine of data, but panning for valuable information would be easier if your software had the right tools and capabilities.

First of all, you want to make sure that your retail ERP software collects and organizes your data in such a way that it can be meaningful when you look at your dashboard screen or review a report. Once the data is collected and stored in a meaningful way, these four capabilities can make analyzing the data quicker and easier.

  1. Drill down and drill up: The days of scouring through reams of paper for a customer’s balance are gone. Now, most retail ERP systems worth their salt have the capability to drill down into data to find a specific item.

    For example, an income statement details the sales from each store location. Your data should be able to drill down into store sales, showing totals by product category and eventually allow drilling down to the actual items that were sold.

    The data should drill up as well. For example, from a single line in your food sales account, you could drill up to the POS transaction (shopping cart) that caused the entry, then up to the customer/member that purchased and across to total sales for all customers with a similar demographic as the customer.

    You could use your customer data to designate demographic categories, such as age range, gender, annual income or other data that you have accumulated. From that information, you have the potential of bringing in Big Data and identifying trends associated with a specific group, such as the fact that people in the 20-to-30-year-old age range tend to buy certain products, colors or fashions.

    The ability to drill down or drill up depends on the data you collect and how it is organized.

  2. Export data into other programs:  Most likely, you would benefit from exporting data from your retail ERP system into Microsoft Excel for further analysis. You could export customer demographics and inventory categories, then use an Excel pivot table that can “slice and dice” the data. Maybe you’ll identify the specific age range of customers who bought products in a certain product category or specific product line and from which store location.

    If you keep exporting that specific data set, evaluate whether it is a key indicator or key metric that you are using to managing your operations. If so, that’s when you should consider creating a custom dashboard for the data, which would be eliminate the time involved in exporting data and manipulating it in Excel.  A good dashboard would also update as real-time transactions are processed by the system.

  3. Collect useful metrics that help identify trends: Identify which metrics are important to your organization by analyzing the data and establishing some trends. After pinpointing key indicators for your business, you can hire someone to develop a dashboard so it is always available whenever you open the application.

    But remember to analyze the data first before deciding whether you need custom reporting. Some retailers want a custom report thinking it would be nice to have, so they pay a pretty penny for someone to develop it, only to use it just a handful of times. But you or someone proficient in Excel can export and compute raw data, thus delaying or even eliminating the development costs for a custom report until you understand the data’s usefulness to the organization.

  4. Track real-time data: Real-time data is ideal for triggering alerts for potential issues in your retail operations as opposed to establishing trends. Real-time data is useful when it alerts you that a certain threshold has been met.

    Maybe you created a trigger mechanism to alert you when a certain limit has been reached. For example, it might alert you when one store cashier issues an excessive number of refunds, or when you’ve sold your last widget or when you have only one day to place an inventory replenishment order before you reach a projected out-of-stock condition. As a retailer, you would likely want to know about these critical situations as soon as possible.

Before rushing to create custom dashboards, consider these four tips in helping you get the most out of the data goldmine that could be at your fingertips in your retail ERP software.