I’m a big believer of trusting your own judgement and not getting too wrapped up in what everyone else is doing, but one of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt this year is sometimes it doesn't hurt to get prepared...just in case.
When news of COVID-19 started to spread, I tried to resist the urge to fill my loft with toilet paper but I did make two purchases - a chest freezer for the garage and a mobile phone for my 9 year old daughter.
I have never been so grateful for that small bit of planning when we went into the inevitable lockdown. Chest freezers sold out everywhere and the crystal ball prediction of me needing help from family to remotely homeschool came true. I’ll never forget the time I finished a 2 hour conference call only to go upstairs and see my bathroom turned into a science lab with my Mum on FaceTime hosting experiments with my daughter!
60% of suppliers are reviewing their data strategy from lessons learnt when COVID-19 hit.
When it comes to your retailer data, here’s my top 3 suggestions for getting prepared:
Look at how often your company downloads retailer data - is it weekly, monthly, ad-hoc? Ideally this needs to be done daily, 7 days a week. This avoids missing intervention opportunities from LAG time or making decisions based on aggregated data and averages. Some retailer systems have up to 5 different CSV files available every day and most have limited history after a period of time. Gaps in data leave room for gaps in knowledge so having a robust, consistent process in place is key.
Do you have full visibility of your SKUs journey from the moment it leaves the warehouse, right through to purchase? Are there any ‘grey’ areas where you have limited visibility such as depot stock holding or store availability? In an ideal world, measures and signals at each stage of a SKUs journey should be visible and seen in context, not isolation. We call this the ‘Flow-of-Goods’.
Everyone in the business should have access to this information, so that regardless of expertise, this is easy to access, interpret and explore. With many field teams furloughed, we have been working with suppliers who are looking for alternative ways to get visibility of store stock, OOS and potential book stock errors simply by using the data available.
When asked a question about retailer data, how quickly and easily can you answer it? Are there a handful of analysts or a technical whiz in the business who you rely on? Speed to insight is the art of being able to answer *any* questions thrown at you knowing you have the insight at your fingertips. Anyone can be data rich, but if you are insight poor then the data loses its weight. Think about the questions you may need answers to if things were to change again such as stock-in-trade, stores and/or products in high demand, days stock cover, rate of sale, availability. Traction with retailers has become more challenging as we compete for inbox airtime. Huge shifts in consumer buying patterns leading to changes in demand, ranging fluctuations have all meant agile use of data is key to articulate meaningful insight.
None of us can predict the future, but a small bit of planning could go a long way...
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SKUtrak from Atheon Analytics provides a rich, visual, interactive analysis of trading performance to help consumer goods businesses build better, more valuable relationships with their retail customers.