In the last ten years, the retail sector has undergone immense change and growth. Selling has shifted from in-store to online, with statistics for April 2017 from the Office for National Statistics reporting that the average weekly spend online is around £1 billion, an increase of 19% compared with the same time last year. While that means there are more opportunities for retailers to interact with customers, similarly consumers have the opportunity to interact with your competitors, too. The technology used in retail must develop to keep up with this rapid change of pace, to ensure operational efficiency and increased revenue.
Every company, retailer or otherwise, needs to evolve in order to thrive. This is done through decision makers choosing the path that needs to be taken in order to arrive at a particular destination: success.
What if these decisions could be backed up with real evidence – not from general retail industry websites that can be misleading or self-serving – but based specifically on your company?
As you already know, Business intelligence (BI) is a technology-based method of collecting and processing information through the analysis of data in order to make quicker, more accurate business choices. Information is extracted from multiple sources, collated and presented in dashboards, reports or data visualisations.
The data derived from this analysis can provide you with the transparency needed for a clear and complete view of your supply chain, giving you full control over every aspect of your business. With self-service BI solutions, anybody in a company can access the information they need to support enhanced decision making for the benefit of the company.
The process of gathering BI can be broken up into three main stages:
1 – Data Extraction
2 – Transform data with queries to build data models
3 – Create reports to be analysed
Without BI tools, each of the three stages can cause problems, inaccuracies and missed opportunities for business owners. Each step, with the assistance of a BI solution, takes very little time and effort.
The problem: Data sources require significant effort to extract
Solution: Rapid Extraction of Data
BI solutions take the effort out of extracting data from multiple sources that draw a lot of time and effort from IT departments, who could be focusing on higher value work. Firstly, BI tools can automatically collate all of your data, bringing it all together into one place. This means that you can understand each aspect of your organisation and increase efficiency in your supply chain. Platforms such as Qlik are end-to-end products that undertake all three stages of the BI collection process.
The problem: I’m not sure how best to process the data
Solution: Easily Interrogate Data by “Drilling Down” or “Drilling Through” with Queries
Business owners often need to make comparisons across different data sources – and without BI software, this has to be done manually. Data needs to be completely accurate to be useful, and if a computer isn’t doing this for you then data could be affected by human error. Retailers can’t afford for this to happen; important information needs to be analysed in the right way to discover consumer behaviour and trends. Retailers can uncover patterns in different store locations’ sales, margins and inventory.
Depending on the BI platform, there is the option to “drill down” data by exploring it in a specific, more linear way to answer certain questions, or to “drill through” which means exploring data more interactively through different levels of interrogation as part of its connection with other information. BI software ensures that data is transformed with the right interrogations and queries to support each department of the business, specifically assisting with what they need to know.
The problem: Reports created from extracted data are difficult to analyse
Solution: Create reports with meaningful insight to picture data through easy-to-understand visuals
Once information has been brought together and interrogated properly, it can then be organised into easily analysable reports. Certain software such as Microsoft’s Power BI can display the shaped data for you as interactive charts and graphs. Some software can even write the information automatically as text in narrative form, or in any way that works best for you and your data. You can find out vital information, such as what products to stock in which location, sales levels during a promotion, or employee productivity during a particular seasonal event. Any business question you have, BI software can answer.