3 Unique Insights Retail POS Data Offers
In an industry with cutthroat competition and razor-thin margins, retail business owners always feel pressured to do more with less. Instead of adding more resources to their toolbox, retailers often have to get creative to leverage what’s already at their disposal.
One of these readily available resources is retail point of sale (POS) data. Simply put, this data encompasses sales metrics that come either directly from a single retail chain (such as Kroger or Walmart), or that are compiled from multiple retail businesses and syndicated through a third-party such as Neilsen or IRI.
Both retailers and their supplier brands have the power to make use of retail POS data from their point of sale system to boost in-store sales. In this article, we’ll uncover three unique insights that can be gleaned from retail POS data, which will ultimately lead to improved sales performance, inventory management, and forecasting.
1. Shopper Behavior
Retail point of sale data goes far beyond just measuring the number of goods sold over a given period of time. Reading between the lines of the order history is what empowers retailers and supplier brands to learn a lot about how consumers are buying from them.
Analyzing retail POS data at the stock keeping unit (SKU) level reveals which items are proving to be best-sellers, and conversely, which are unpopular with shoppers. Dates and timestamps found on sales transactions are also telling of when shoppers are most likely to make a purchase. This knowledge allows retailers to take a data-driven approach to inventory management.
For example, POS data analysis might reveal that ready-to-drink beverages are flying off the shelves during lunchtime hours, while gallon-size drinks are most likely to be bought after standard office hours around dinnertime.
This kind of intel enables retailers to stock the appropriate inventory counts based on consumer demand rather than gut intuition, preventing the dreaded out-of-stock situation (which, by the way, costs retailers an estimated $47 billion annually).
2. Promotional Execution & Compliance
Both retailers and supplier brands have a lot to gain from a successful promotional event. In fact, research shows that when executed correctly promotions have the power to provide a sales lift of 193 percent! Needless to say, retailers and suppliers benefit immensely from proper promotional execution, offering another opportunity for point of sale data to provide value.
Careful planning around pricing, display design, marketing campaigns, staffing, and more goes into making sure that promotions are profitable. Despite the potential upside, an astonishing 50 percent of retail promotions are not in compliance with their predetermined setup agreements.
It’s not uncommon for a display to be placed in the wrong section of a store, or for sale pricing not to be properly marked. Mistakes like these are especially frustrating because the allure of the promotion never reaches the consumer.
Retail point of sale data is a key indicator for whether or not promotions are set up correctly. Stagnant sales amid a promotional period as seen in a POS report could be the result of poor retail execution.
On the other hand, a sales spike can prove a promotion’s effectiveness and offer concrete evidence for repeating the campaign in the future. Real-time access to POS reporting is critical for catching these fluctuations early and applying corrective action while the promotion is still ongoing.
Historical POS data around past promotions is also useful for planning future ones. Let the data be your guide when considering timing, inventory prep, and even display materials. Retail POS data is telling of what periods are best for holding promotions and the velocity at which promotional items are selling.
Referencing what was successful in the past is a great way to avoid preventable mistakes. POS data analysis before and after a promotion is also helpful for quantifying the ROI since most promotion events involve a considerable time and investment on the part of both retailers and brands.
3. Resource Planning
Another advantage of retail POS data analysis is being able to plan better to intercept problems before they happen. Moreover, real-time retail analytics affords the benefit of being able to stay one step ahead of the competition. Below are a few examples of how to use point of sale to improve forecasting:
- If a particular SKU previously had steady sales then experiences a sharp decline, this could be indicative of a stockout.
- Similarly, sales of a specific product that fall significantly after a new SKU from the same brand is introduced can denote product cannibalization.
- Strong sales of a select SKU can justify to a secondary placement elsewhere in the store.
- Brands can share competitive intelligence about their sales performance for new SKUs at other retailers, which can be especially helpful when deciding how to stock a new SKU from their product line in your store.
- If brands demonstrate strong sales at a competitor retailer but are not holding up at your retail business, there might be problems with retail execution that need to be addressed.
- Strong sales of complementary products can demonstrate the success of a cross-merchandising effort and should be repeated where feasible.
- Bestsellers can be identified more easily, enabling retailers to coordinate with suppliers to improve inventory planning.
- Retailers can remove poor-performing SKUs from the shelf faster to make room for other products that resonate better with consumers.
- Retailers are more easily able to stay in compliance with end-of-life guidelines for various SKUs. If a product was supposed to be removed from the store’s inventory but is still registering sales, this is a sign that it hasn’t been taken off the shelves yet, hindering the possibility for better performing SKUs to take its place.
Retail POS data is so much richer than just the raw sales numbers. The insights derived from the point of sale system are a retail business’s secret weapon for maintaining a positive in-store sales trend and directly impacting the bottom line. When retailers and their suppliers collaborate on POS data analysis, the benefits can become even greater.