SKUtrak’s drive for enhanced data timeliness

Nick Calver, Marketing Director

At Atheon, it’s our mission to turn vast amounts of retail data into clear and coherent insights that drive business success. Quality is only one part of the challenge, however; to be truly useful, data also needs to be current, and the speed at which our clients can access the information we provide can play a critical role in their overall success. This is one of the reasons that we’re so invested in enhancing the timeliness of that data in whichever way that we can.

SKUtrak's data timeliness initiative

Understanding this, we recently launched an initiative to enhance the speed at which data becomes available through SKUtrak. By redesigning our processes, initiating data collection earlier, and accelerating our processing time by around 50%, we've made significant strides in our pursuit of timeliness.

Take Co-op, for example: data is now typically available by 7:30 a.m.. Data availability improvements vary from retailer to retailer, contingent on the intricacies of their systems, though we are working hard to try and implement similar efficiencies to those seen with Co-op.

An example of timely data in action

Let’s look at a hypothetical example of how timely data can make a difference. Say we have a leading dairy producer that supplies yoghurts, cheeses, and milk-based beverages. The company relies on daily trading data for forecasting and managing customer operations, and its demand planners generate a six-week forecast. That forecast takes potential variations into account, especially during promotions. Simple enough so far.

In order to adjust their predictions accordingly, however, the demand planners actually need immediate feedback on the actual impact of each promotion. If real-world sales deviate significantly from their projected 100% increase, the customer operations team will need to relay this information promptly to the demand planners in order for them to revise the forecast.

"With SKUtrak, we get a story about every promotion. Let’s say that one underperforms. Rather than sitting there wondering why, we can look at the data behind that promotion and find out. Maybe we’ve shorted a certain number of cases, which has then limited availability to some stores, and that’s the primary driver of that underperformance."

Kelly Holman, National Account Executive at Valeo Foods Group

The catch? These adjustments must also reach the production department by 10:30 a.m. each day. Any delays could disrupt the production schedule, leading to missed opportunities and potential losses. This underscores our belief in the importance of enhanced data timeliness and our drive to deliver it.  

Incorporating timely trading data into your workflows

Recognising these challenges, incorporating timely trading data into your workflows can yield significant benefits. SKUtrak's improvement in data timeliness underpins a wide range of advantages, from better demand planning through to more effective field sales interventions:

Improved demand planning: Timely access to trading data allows customer operations and demand planners to respond quickly when events deviate from the planned trajectory. Even a few extra hours in the morning can significantly influence the day's sales performance, provided that the response is fast enough.

Optimising availability: Supply chain managers can optimise availability by accessing data first thing in the morning, enabling them to shape what happens the following day. They can evaluate the previous day's events and prioritise their tasks to ensure optimal distribution of available goods across depots and the store network.

Data timeliness empty shelves-1

Enhanced Monday morning reporting: Having your performance reports ready first thing on a Monday morning is also vital to starting the week off right. SKUtrak's automated reporting capabilities remove the hassle of gathering the previous week's sales, service, and metric data from multiple portals, helping you prepare your reports in time.

Effective field sales interventions: For field sales teams, timely access to data is invaluable. Morning snapshots of store performance and actionable insights allow them to plan their daily activities effectively. By promptly identifying underperforming stores or addressing stock issues, they can ensure optimal sales performance and customer satisfaction.   

Looking ahead

Our commitment to enhancing data timeliness is an ongoing one. We have several new features in the pipeline, including dashboards designed specifically for supply chain management. Our forthcoming Supply Reports and Manage Supply dashboards will provide in-depth insights into service issues, depot stock levels, availability challenges, and even individual store stock information, empowering CPGs to identify and respond to supply chain issues swiftly.

SKUtrak's drive for enhanced data timeliness signifies our commitment to providing our clients with the tools they need to respond swiftly to ever-changing market conditions.  Far from being “just” a technical improvement, this is our way of ensuring that our customers can continue to excel in today's dynamic retail environment.

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