Access to accurate data is vital in any business. With sectors demanding more from its insights, the fast moving world of retail is a particular example where it is absolutely necessary for data to aid decision processes. Increasingly retailers are turning to agile business intelligence systems to gain an advantage over their competitor. They harness the power to be able to offer predictive insights into customer buying behaviours, drive profitability and to reduce overheads.
It is not as if the demand for retail intelligence is not new. For many years retailers have been using a plethora of systems, operating at various levels of output and management scale. They collect vast amounts of data from across a number of outlets, which is extremely valuable. The problem is that most companies IT infrastructure resides in an array of isolated locations making the flow of data very truncated.
Real value can only be realised when you integrate data from these applications to create what many consultants refer to as ‘actionable intelligence’. A retail business intelligence solution that is retail focused would look to consolidate all of your key data types; product, customer, supplier, point-of-sale data and operational. With all this data integrated into a single workflow, it enables decisions makers to make informed decisions based upon accurate, informed and most often real-time data. BI solutions don’t just tell you what is happening either. The more embedded the system becomes within your workflow, it becomes more understanding and thus, more intelligent. It can determine where demand will come from, by whom and what affect this demand has on other areas of the business.
In order to remain competitive in the current economic climate retailers need to be able to do a number of things. Like with any business they must drive sales and acquire new customers, maximise existing resources (staff, supplies, locations etc.), expand product/service offering and of course, maximise revenues whilst minimising supply chain and operational costs.
How does a business achieve this? The simple answer and effectively the solution is data. The problem is collating, analysing and presenting the data with so many different systems in place and as a consequence, information is often unreliable and incorrect, meaning data is expensive. In an industry where the cost of a wrong decision can be detrimental to a business, retailers need to ensure their decisions are based on accurate, reliable and trusted information more than any other type of business.
Article brought to you by a consulting firm specialising in business intelligence solutions.