A lot of people predicted that online shopping would be the end of physical retail. But this has proven to be an inflated expectation. Shoppers have embraced flexible omnichannel shopping experiences, often employing a combination of ecommerce and in-person shopping to get the products they want on their own terms. There are many reasons people continue to visit brick-and-mortar stores: personalized sales experiences, the opportunity to see products up close before buying, convenience, to save on delivery fees, etc.
Operations managers keep retail stores running smoothly—taking care of all those behind-the-scenes things that you don’t think twice about unless something’s amiss. This job role requires people to balance multiple priorities at once, from optimizing store layout to scheduling staffers, tracking inventory and sales figures, hitting performance goals, improving customer service and more. And doing so requires having the latest information available upon which to base decisions.
Here are four ways retail analytics can assist operations managers in optimizing outcomes for the retail stores under their jurisdiction.
Analyze Foot Traffic
The simple act of collecting and analyzing foot traffic data will tell you a lot as an operations manager. You might think you have a good grasp on the goings on in your store, but without concrete foot traffic data, you’re likely missing some key insights.
As Apparel Magazine outlines, one retailer analyzed foot-traffic data and found something surprising: Conversion rates usually dropped an hour before closing, night after night. So, managers dug deeper. Why was this occurring and what could they do about it? They found employees typically started non-closing duties, like cleaning and restocking, which deterred customers from browsing and buying during this time.
With this information in hand, managers were able to communicate to associates that they needed to stay focused on selling until closing time. Within a few weeks, conversion rates in the time period before close improved.
Is your store achieving the optimal shopper-to-associate ratio? How are wait times during peak hours? Where do your associates stand in terms of sales productivity? Staffing is one of the most important aspects of managing a retail outlet’s operations because it so directly affects both company expenses and customers’ experience.
Access to retail analytics is vital in making data-driven staffing decisions. Say you want to schedule top sales associates during your busiest sales windows. An analytics platform like ThoughtSpot facilitates ad hoc queries, so all you’d have to do would be enter “Daily sales by store associate” to access an automatic chart showing each staff member’s sales figures within a given time period. Based on this report, you’d be able to identify top performers at just a glance, helping you decide who to schedule and when.
Gauging Hourly Order Volumes and Inventory
There’s one thing that can kill a potential sale faster than you can say “back-ordered,” and that’s having to tell a customer you’re sold out of the product they want. Part of an operation manager’s duties is helping keep inventory levels full without creating expensive surpluses.
Here are a few key components of inventory management aided by retail analytics:
- Theft control: Shoplifting is expensive, but it’s a fact of life in retail. The ability to measure actual sales against inventory will help you measure discrepancies and try out new anti-theft measures in your store.
- Financial management: How much are you spending on stocking inventory vs. how much are you making on the turnaround? How much is your store accumulating in product “excess”? Which products are most cost-effective to order and sell?
- Product tracking: Think about specific SKUs here. You need a way to isolate how various products and collections are selling so you can make the smartest inventory choices for your location.
Long story short: Analytics will help you understand what to order, when, in what volume. It will also help you figure out how to avoid financial loss in the form of theft and waste.
Hitting Performance Targets
Retail operations managers are in charge of helping their stores hit various performance targets and key performance indicators (KPIs). Use analytics to measure performance against pre-assigned benchmarks and metrics.
If you’re an operations manager, you need retail analytics on your side so you can make data-driven decisions.
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