By Greg Arnette, CTO, Sonian
In the age of digital transactions, modern retailers have more data at their fingertips than ever before, right in their point-of-sale (POS) systems. In many cases, however, businesses are using POS data solely to process sales and update inventory levels. Instead, businesses could be leveraging the purchase data to learn much more about their customers and make actionable decisions that drive bottom-line results.
By analyzing customer data in greater detail, retailers can model their “best customer.” This analysis can also be taken a step further to reveal the people who are not coming into retail locations. Just as a business can use data to understand its current customer base, it can also target local prospects that meet that model, even if they are not already customers. Leveraging POS and demographic data can help retailers target new customers and better serve their existing base. For example, if clerks collect ZIP code information from shoppers, it can be analyzed to identify cities or towns to target with promotional materials and when considering store locations to open or close.
At a high level, retailers often know their hot products. But this varies by store, region and market. Having more granular insights into purchases at each of these levels can help inform retailers what to restock, and what not to. For example, the latest doll may be flying off the shelves when corporate looks at overall sales, but that item may be stagnant and taking up valuable shelf space at store #1234. By using a company’s POS system to get this kind of insight, the amount of financial waste on overstocking will decrease. It will also reveal opportunities to hold sales on specific items, identify which customers these types of promotions should go to, and more.
Every company knows that preparing for big retail shopping seasons is critical. Archived data helps businesses understand the trends from previous years, to better equip themselves for the season ahead. To better plan for the rushes, retailers can look to their sales history to understand the best times to hold promotions to maintain and push sales. Back-to-school season is a great example of how retailers can benefit from valuable, historical insight.
While some retailers opt for large, customized (and often very expensive) systems, others are using email archiving systems. What does that mean, exactly? At the end of each day, store managers send a recap of their sales and transactions in an email to corporate. From there, the information is archived and easily made accessible, searchable and actionable.
While email archiving may not be top of mind when it comes to business intelligence tools, it is actually the key to insightful information happening from both the store level to the corporate level within a business. When used effectively (such as through the POS system), email archiving can provide access to vital information across an organization, from customer feedback and employee happenings to product information and store sales. While it is typically associated with mitigating legal risk or meeting compliance, a simple email archiving system can serve as much more. The most effective retailers today use archiving technology as a business intelligence tool, starting with their POS data and building from there.
Those who work in IT know that archiving capabilities like this are typically included in the purchase of an email system, though in many instances they go unused. Now, it is up to the corporate decision-makers to make use of the information that is already available to help make smarter business decisions.