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Business Intelligence Tools for Retail (Ultimate Guide)

    The retail industry is a complex field, where businesses have to focus on several critical areas for the success of their operations. Starting from supplier collaboration and return policies, thorough return operations, and supply chain organization, to merchandise disposition, and analytics. In order to manage all these areas efficiently, retailers need to have business intelligence tools for retail that can provide them with accurate and timely data.

    These tools can help retailers make better decisions about their business operations, and improve their overall performance. Business intelligence tools for retail can help retailers track sales data, customer behavior, inventory levels, and supplier performance. In addition, these tools can also provide retailers with insights into the competition, and allow them to make more informed decisions about pricing, promotions, and product offerings.

    Business intelligence tools for retail can give retailers the information they need to be successful in today’s competitive marketplace.

    1. Infrastructure

    business intelligence tools for retail

    In business, time is money. That’s why business intelligence tools are essential for retail businesses who want to stay ahead of the competition. But with so many options on the market, it can be difficult to know which hardware is right for your business.

    That’s where working with a trusted ERP solutions company comes in. They can help you select the right hardware to support your business needs and ensure that your business intelligence strategy is a success. With their help, you can make informed decisions about the right hardware for your business, so you can focus on what’s important: running your business.

    While selecting the appropriate BI infrastructure for your retail business, here are a few things to consider:

    Self-service analytics and reporting capabilities

    Business users with different levels of tech expertise can rely on drag-and-drop functionality, natural language querying support, and highly customizable dashboards to access data independently and support their decision-making.

    A set of data source connectors and easy-to-use APIs

    To allow for seamless integration with the existing IT infrastructure and reduced development costs in case of the addition of new data sources.

    Automated data management processes

    To improve decision-making by reducing the time consumed for retail data ingestion, aggregation, and analysis and eliminating error-prone manual data management activities.

    Data security focus

    To secure highly sensitive customer and financial data, the system should meet regulatory compliance requirements (e.g., GDPR) and enable secure data access and sharing across different employee levels.

    2. HR management

    HR Management helped by business intelligence tools for retail operations

    Opting for a self-service BI tool is a good option, as it enables anyone without an IT background to work on analytics easily. Empowering your co-workers with the appropriate tool to make better-informed, data-driven decisions is the highway to extracting value from your data. It is also a golden opportunity to understand employees better and see how human resources can drive the business instead of just aligning with it.

    Find a purpose and articulate a vision behind the reason why your organization is adopting HR analytics tools as a business approach. Select a project, or two, that will answer business challenges your organization is facing and extract the HR data that helps in resolving them. Finally, do not forget to measure the outcomes of your efforts to be able to promote them afterward: it creates business cases for future investments in HR analytics software. 

    The retail business is extremely competitive, and to stay ahead, retailers need to make use of every business intelligence tool at their disposal. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that your C-level suite is on board with the analytics train.

    Talk to them about the business strategy and how people can make a change in that strategy. From there, you can choose the right metrics to analyze and monitor risks and progress together. This is much better and easier than just showing them a bunch of numbers that would not engage them as efficiently. With the right approach, you can ensure that your business stays ahead of the competition.

    3. Strategy

    With a good business intelligence solution for retail, you can get rid of inefficient, time-consuming, and error-prone manual data analysis and welcome smart, interactive reports. These reports provide you with distinct patterns in sales, regulations, inventory, and margins, for each store & help you optimize your processes to increase profit.

    It’s very important to track the changing customer needs to drive effective marketing, design, product development, & other initiatives which affect your sales. With an advanced strategy and business intelligence solution you should be able to:

    • Analyze data to find patterns in customer purchasing behavior
    • Plan, assess, & monitor the performance of your promotional activities
    • Collect social media data & analyze the engagement level to measure customer loyalty
    • Know how your customers react to marketing incentives, seasonal promotions, & discounts

    With few entry barriers and too many players in retail, this is one of the very competitive industries. It is very important to keep a tab on your competitors in the market. With a great retail BI solution, you can do real-time monitoring of your competitors including business model analysis & competitive forecasting. You can get insight into your competitor’s offerings, determine what products will better sell, & identify potential opportunities.

    Business analytics strategy for Retail can help you to compare your products’ performance against your competitors, do predictive analysis, & fine-tune pricing. Furthermore, you will be able to optimize costs, maximize profitability, & act on the right information at the right time; all these will help you to stay one step ahead in the race. 

    4. Going wireless

    BI for Retail Businesses

    Upgrading from legacy platforms and incorporating new and modern technologies is no easy feat. Before going wireless, retailers must weigh the options of either updating their current system with innovative technology or implementing a brand-new system altogether. 

    While shifting from one architectural design to another can be an investment in time and money, with careful preparation and the right BI tool, strategic implementation of new technology can be seamless and painlessly adopted. As a wireless retailer, you must consider some important factors impacting the telecom market landscape.

    Customers expect the products to be available at their preferred touchpoint, be it online or in-store. Their interaction with the business impacts their final decision. Hence the retailer needs centralized customer data to create a unified customer experience and strategy. The wireless retailers should ensure that their customer channels do not compete against each other and that all customer interactions are recorded and centralized. 

    Data from various customer touchpoints including social media, SMS, and email should enable wireless retailers to build a seamless customer experience as well as drive revenue goals. So choosing a robust technology platform is necessary to confirm that multiple channels are working together and not against each other.

    The IoT and the advancement of new technologies have made customers’ personal information easier to access. Ensure that the BI tool you are considering offers upgraded technology options, so you as a wireless retailer can better protect customers to keep personal data confidential and have more control of their personal information.

    5. Supply Chain

    A great retail operation is often enabled by efficient merchandising. However, some issues bother retailers. They face under-performing inventory & out-of-stock products. Supply chain operations have become complicated because of many reasons such as diversification in sales & distribution formats. 

    A retail BI software helps in process improvements across the organization resulting in reduced markdowns & greater inventory effectiveness. As you get access to insightful data, you can follow the demand patterns & see how the supply chain network is functioning & boost up your day-to-day operation. Get real-time insight into supply & demand dynamics & prevent under or overstocking. This results in greater integrated business planning efficiency. 

    Smart BI tools provide a central repository to all inventory and customer data pooled from multiple systems, such as PoS, warehouse management systems, ERPs, and more, analyze it to rectify weaknesses and identify opportunities.

    Retail business intelligence should guide business owners refine inventory by:

    • Optimizing supply to reduce the risk of stock-outs
    • Improving inventory allocation across stores
    • Determining the most cost-effective way to get rid of low-selling SKUs
    • Creating accurate inventory forecasts based on stock and sales data

    This way, BI solutions aid retailers in creating and executing inventory strategies that are well-aligned with sales and revenue goals.

    6. Metrics that relate to your strategy

    The type of data you are tracking should specifically tie into your organization’s strategy and your long-term and short-term business goals. Data collection should prove to be a valuable use of resources. Your dashboards should be purpose-built, giving you useful information about how you are progressing towards your goals, what things you may need to change about your strategy to accomplish those goals, and what opportunities exist to accomplish them even more effectively.

    Reports generated will look differently for separate users. Your marketing team may want to see data on how promotional campaigns impact the sales of the products being promoted, and what kinds of patterns in purchase history they can find for those of your customers who spend the most with you. 

    The data that marketers are looking for will not be as relevant to the manager of warehouse operations. They might want to identify inefficiencies or bottlenecks by looking at the information you generate about the movement of a product from ordering to arrival at a store location. A regional manager will be more interested in what the sales numbers are for each store location and how its performance compares to that same period last year and the year before.

    Before you start considering business intelligence for your business, determine high priority goals for each part of your organization, and then from there determine what metrics you need to support those goals and create more transparency around decisions of the most strategic importance.

    7. Self Service BI tools

    Not all business intelligence software tools are made for self-service BI. Such a tool should be easy to use by non-technical users. To know whether a particular BI software platform can be used for self-service BI, consider the following questions:

    • How easy is it to connect the platform to data? Does the platform come with this functionality built-in or should it be custom-developed?
    • Does the platform require scripting to be done to prepare data for analysis? 
    • How much scripting is needed to prepare data for analysis? Is knowledge of SQL needed for this?
    • Will your organization’s departments are self-sufficient, or must they rely on professional services from the vendor?

    After getting answers to the above questions, you can know whether the BI platform will enhance self-service BI in your organization or not. You must choose a platform that will help you meet your company’s needs. 

    A good self-service BI platform must have the following features:

    • It should easily fit with the data architecture of your organization and synchronize all the processes smoothly
    • It should have efficient report and dashboard creation capabilities to handle multiple data sources and customers.
    • It should be easily deployed on almost any computer system
    • It should help users estimate the amount of effort required to perform Data Analysis and Visualization as well

    Although self-service BI can be challenging, most retailers have found huge benefits in its applications.

    8. Supply and Demand Forecasting

    Supply and demand forecasting relies on data. If there is anything wrong with the data you use, the math and how you implement it will result in underestimated or overestimated demand, leaving you with a bunch of unhappy customers or a surplus supply. To understand demand and accurately predict supply, most companies adopt a business intelligence solution to assist with data preparation, data consolidation, analysis, and reporting.

    You need to get a pulse over your business to understand the unique requirements which you might have, and then accordingly decide which software fits the bill for you. To select the right tool at the onset, you might want to ask some questions:

    • What current programs do you have in your organization that this new BI software will have to integrate with? 
    • What customizations will you have to do? 
    • Will this new software tool have the provision of scalability? 
    • Do I need a modular tool? 
    • Is it possible to define the role hierarchy with this tool? 

    It is quite possible that you already have some programs in place for your retail business. A couple of examples could be inventory tracking software & timesheet software. They too could be having some sort of embedded analytics, thus it becomes important that your new top BI software integrates well with these existing tools to give you a holistic look at the sales data. 

    The Best Business Intelligence Tools for Retail: DotNetReport


    Business intelligence tools for retail are important for managing the performance of store locations.

    It is now easier than ever to let your users easily manage their own Ad Hoc Reports and Dashboards by embedding our Report Builder in your application. This will save you time and money in development while delivering essential business information to those who need it most.

    DotNetReport takes the data from your backend and displays it in an easy-to-use format that can be customized by each individual user. This ensures that everyone has the information they need, when they need it, without having to rely on others to provide it.

    • Quick and Easy Installation: Most businesses today rely on some form of business intelligence (BI) tools to make informed decisions. Retailers are no different. In fact, given the competitive nature of the retail industry, having access to accurate and timely data is critical. That’s where our reporting solution comes in. Our business intelligence tools for retail are easy to install and set up, so you can get up and running quickly. With our reporting solution, you’ll have all the information you need at your fingertips to make informed decisions about your business.
    • User Friendly Report Builder: Our business intelligence tools for retail give your end-users the power to create and run their own reports with ease.

      By embedding our intuitive and friendly reporting front-end into your application, you’ll give them the ability to make decisions based on up-to-date information without having to rely on IT. And because our tools are designed specifically for retail, they’re easy to use and understand, so your end-users will be able to get started right away.

      So if you’re looking for a way to empower your end-users and give them the ability to make better business decisions, then look no further than our business intelligence tools for retail.
    • Open Source Front End: Business intelligence tools for retail help storeowners make data-driven decisions to improve their business. Embedded reporting is a type of business intelligence that allows business owners to view and analyze data within their existing applications.

      This type of reporting is particularly useful for retail business owners because it allows them to track sales, inventory, and customer data all in one place. Our embedded reporting solution is built on an open source front-end, which means that you are in full control of your data. Furthermore, our solution will integrate seamlessly with your existing application, making it easy to get started with embedded reporting.

    A brief history of technology in retail

    Retail has an extensive history spanning hundreds of years to what it is today. Even now retail is constantly changing and adapting to keep up in an ever digitizing world. From the local grocer to a high street packed with retail giants, all competing for business both physically and online.

    Over the past 5 to 10 years, retailers have invested heavily in technology to improve their logistics operations, particularly around handling returns. Their products are now hitting their point of critical growth, and have been particularly visible in the last year as consumers order online in far greater numbers.

    We have come a long way from the simple barter system era, exchanging one thing for another. Today customers expect more and more from retailers. They want personalized experiences, but also convenience and efficiency. They want discount pricing and fast shipping but are also willing to pay more for brands they connect with.

    As retailers continue to morph and evolve to meet these expectations, they, in turn, drive new customer behaviors and usher in the next era of our retail history. 


    1. Why is BI Important?

    Business intelligence enables you to know what’s happening in real-time, why it’s happening, how to stop it or capitalize on it, and how to predict what will happen next. Being able to deduce action from data is a competitive advantage leading you to grow your customer base, improve employee productivity, and create a better product. 

    2. Why does retail need BI?

    Using BI, retailers can understand customer behavior, estimate inventory needs, and build forecasts is the life’s blood of any retailer. BI helps retailers organize, analyze, and contextualize business data from around the company. It also provides reports, performance measures, and company trends that help businesses make informed decisions in the present day.

    3. Is it easy to implement BI in retail?

    Firstly it depends on how comfortable you and your team are with analytics and business intelligence. Secondly, the intensity of the need to stay in the market and competitions matters as well. Retailers who want to stay ahead of the curve need to embrace business intelligence and use the latest technologies to improve their decision-making. 

    Let us know if there are any questions or comments.

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