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Even at the best of times, grocery chains face a constant battle to meet customer demand, with thousands of product lines to manage, shelf space at a premium, and numerous competitors vying for consumers’ attention. To remain profitable, it is vital for grocers to select the right products, accurately predict demand to maximize on-shelf availability, and ensure efficient operations to minimize waste. Doing this effectively requires the use of a unified grocery data analytics and planning solution to determine exactly where performance is at and what the next move should be. In this blog, we explore the benefits of such an approach.
Grocery chains sit on enormous volumes of data, from transactions and loyalty card usage to delivery quantities and stock availability. Grocery data analytics solutions enable retailers to quickly perform in-depth analyses on this data to reveal sales trends and other insights that can drive more informed decision-making.
Unified analytics and grocery planning solutions take this historical perspective to the next level, enabling the insights gained from the data to be used as a basis for forward-looking plans and forecasts. Armed with this information, retail management teams can make fast decisions around the next product line, marketing promotion, or stock requirement.
Unified grocery analytics and planning solutions enable much faster analysis of performance and identification of data trends than traditional spreadsheet-based processes. They also offer the ability to look forward and plan based on an accurate foundation of data, driving more informed decision-making business wide and improving collaboration between teams.
This approach is seen as best practice and is referred to as Integrated Business Planning (IBP), in which analytics, planning, and forecasting are combined in a fully integrated process across the organization. For grocers, IBP leads to several benefits, explored below.
Disparate spreadsheets and systems form the backbone of many grocery organizations. Each team, department, and region is likely to have numerous data sources in several formats, housing masses of untapped information on individual product lines, trends, and demand. Even with efficient logistics and warehousing activities, operational data can often remain in localized silos, leaving management teams without the extra dimension of insight it can provide for decision-making.
With spreadsheet-based analysis, efforts to combine and analyze multiple data sources are manual in nature (and therefore time-consuming). Data is out of date once compiled, contains the risk of errors, and is often available too late for the purpose for which it was originally intended.
With an IBP solution, grocers gain complete and instant visibility of the end-to-end supply chain as data sources are automatically combined into a single version of the truth. Replacing manual consolidation effort and removing the risk of human error, access to accurate data at every level of detail is always available, from high-level product categories to individual SKUs, meaning more informed decisions can be made with ease.
The inclusion of information from multiple systems also means strategic, financial, and operational perspectives are linked. This creates transparency across all activities and enables analysis to take place across multiple dimensions, making it easy to identify where a temporary reduction in distribution center staff had a knock-on effect on availability, or the right category mix drove sales of the entire range.
Improvements can be realized across all departments and the entire supply chain by linking strategic, financial, and operational data with planning capabilities. The automatic consolidation of data into a single point of truth creates a strong foundation on which to perform forward-looking planning and forecasting activities. This increases their accuracy from the outset and enables finance, HR, operations, sales, marketing, and management teams to see the big picture and react accordingly.
With IBP, the impact of plans can be seen across other areas of the business with ease, making it possible to accurately model the impact of different strategies and initiatives on the rest of the business before choosing which approach to take. For example, how will the opening of a new store affect warehouse staffing requirements, or what kind of promotion is likely to drive the biggest increase in sales with the smallest cost across certain formats of store? IBP makes these questions fast and easy to answer in real-time, transforming the way decisions are made.
This uplift in planning ability filters down to other activities too. Category management becomes easier as simulations and comparisons of multiple strategies can quickly be compared to determine the best mix of products, with each one being assigned its own goal in line with overall business objectives.
Breaking down strategic objectives into these smaller goals leads to an increase in collaborative working. Complete visibility of how one department’s planned activities affect another drives people to create their individual plans with consideration for their impact on other areas of the business, and drives greater accountability for delivering the results.
The third piece of the puzzle revolves around the forecasting of future grocery trends and their impact on the business. Pulling together a multi-year historical view of performance in an IBP solution enables the generation of accurate forecasts. The combination of detailed reporting and predicted demand used as a basis for planning enables better management of replenishment activities, driving on-shelf availability. This leaves consumers happier and grocers with less stock to waste or discount, leading to greater profitability.
In the competitive grocery marketplace, success depends on responsive decision-making which maximizes profitability while meeting changing consumer demand. The combination of grocery data analytics, grocery planning, and forecasting in a best practice Integrated Business Planning approach is the way to achieve this. The benefits are far-reaching and in this blog we have only scratched the surface, but one thing is clear. Only a holistic view of the entire supply chain with the right tools to manipulate data effectively can deliver the speedy insights needed to ensure the right decisions are being made at the right time.
As a unified decision-making platform, Board enables the realization of this sought-after planning approach. Take a look at this webinar to learn how it helps to improve on-shelf availability, deliver effective analysis, and optimize grocery planning.
Watch this webinar to discover how the Board decision-making platform provides the power and transparency needed to gain full visibility of your strategic, financial, and operational position; quickly detect and resolve supply issues; and unify reporting, planning, and forecasting business wide.