Show Me the Data

Ray Hartjen
Ray Hartjen
Guest Contributor

The quest for better data for better decision-making goes beyond just big store chains

Blog_Show Me the DataAt RetailNext, we love data.

Of course, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. We find that data empowers us to ask more informed questions, which in turn lead to more comprehensive and compelling answers. The result is often better decision-making. And so our mantra could easily be “Show Me the Data.”

Recently, Software Advice—a retail technology reviews site—showed me the data when they published their findings in the 2014 Retail Software BuyerView. To produce this annual report, the company solicits input from thousands of retailers who are looking for software to help streamline business operations.

An interesting part of the data was its source. At RetailNext, we most often work with larger retail chains. But in the report’s study sample, 75 percent of respondents were single-store operations, 56 percent had five or fewer employees, and 24 percent were in the start-up planning phase and had no operations at all. The themes uncovered indicate that the appetite of small retailers for big data analytics and solutions rivals that of their bigger counterparts. 

We get what we measure

While the study showed that 33 percent of respondents currently use point-of-sale (POS) software to manage their retail operations, the real surprise was the 25 percent of respondents who reported having no system at all, and the 14 percent who reported using manual methods to track POS data. 

Show me data chart

 Aware that “hope” isn’t the usually the best business strategy, many retailers recognized the need to improve their in-store systems. But what exactly are they looking to invest in?

Cash is king, so POS reigns supreme

POS had a 100 percent response rate but was followed relatively closely by Inventory Management at 93 percent. Particularly interesting was Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems being selected third most often, with a 36 percent response rate. The goal to better understand shoppers and their behaviors is universal across all retailers—but what is the primary motivation for investing in better systems?

Effectiveness starts with efficiency

With such a large number of respondents using manual systems or no systems at all, it’s not surprising that “efficiency”—at 39 percent—was the reason most cited for evaluating software purchases. An additional 20 percent selected “more functionality;” 9 percent expressed an interest to “modernize;” and only 6 percent looked to capture “new business or growth.” However, newfound efficiency and functionality pays off with freeing up resources, both financial and personnel, and those resources are easily allocated to what’s most important to retailers: attracting shoppers into the store and meeting their needs. 

Integrating on location

Ninety-five percent of respondents reported wanting an integrated implementation, supporting multiple processes. And while the majority—85 percent—of respondents had no deployment model preference, of those who did report a preference, 66 percent of them preferred on-premise solutions as opposed to cloud-based products. 

A topic of continued interest

Big or small, brick-and-mortar retailers have access to vast amounts of data, and the more that is collected, the greater demand is for quick and easy analysis and sound decision making. As retailers struggle to compete and thrive, the thirst for data—and the knowledge it empowers—gets deeper.

For a deeper dive into the 2014 Retail Software BuyerView report, visit the Software Advice site.