Grocery data analytics


- 5 min read

Grocery data analytics and planning: Ensuring availability and maximizing performance

Even at the best of times, grocery chains face a constant battle to meet customer demand. Thousands of product lines require sound management, shelf space is premium, and numerous competitors are vying for consumer attention. Remaining profitable has its challenges.

Grocers need to select the right products, accurately predict demand to maximize on-shelf availability, and ensure efficient operations to minimize waste. Doing this efficiently and effectively requires a unified grocery data analytics and planning solution to determine precisely where performance is at and what the next move should be.

What is a grocery data analytics solution?

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 utilization of insights gained from the data to form the basis of forward-looking plans and forecasts. Armed with this information, retail management teams can make fast decisions around the following product line, marketing promotion, or stock requirement.

What are the benefits of a unified grocery data analytics and planning solution?

Unified grocery analytics and planning solutions enable faster performance analysis and identification of data trends versus 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, referred to as Integrated Business Planning (IBP), is seen as best practice and combines analytics, planning, and forecasting in a fully integrated process across the organization. For grocers, IBP leads to several benefits:

Full transparency of the entire grocery supply chain

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 time-consuming). Data is:

  • out of date once compiled
  • contains the heightened risk of errors (whether through incorrect manual entry or formula inconsistencies)
  • often available too late for its initially intended purpose.

With an IBP solution, grocers gain complete and instant visibility of the end-to-end supply chain as data sources automatically combine into a single version of the truth. By replacing manual consolidation efforts and removing the risk of human error, accurate data is always available at every level of detail. This access ranges from high-level product categories to individual SKUs, accomplishing more informed decisions 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 across multiple dimensions. For example, it is easier to identify where a temporary reduction in distribution center staff has had a knock-on effect on the sales across the entire range.

A fully integrated approach to grocery planning and forecasting

Improvements across all departments and the entire supply chain are realized 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 for performing forward-looking planning and forecasting activities. This increases planning 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 business areas, making it possible to accurately model the effects 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 most considerable increase in sales with the least cost across specific store formats? IBP makes these questions fast and easy to answer in real-time, transforming decision-making processes.

This uplift in planning ability filters down to other activities too. Category management becomes more accessible as the quick comparison of simulations and multiple strategies determine the best mix of products. Each one is assigned its own goal in line with overall business objectives.

Breaking down strategic objectives into smaller goals leads to an increase in collaborative working. Complete visibility across how a department’s planned activities affect another drives people to create individual plans considering the impact on other business areas. It also creates greater accountability for delivering results.

The third piece of the puzzle revolves around forecasting future grocery trends and their impact on the business. Pulling together a multi-year historical view of performance in an IBP solution enables accurate forecasts generation. When used as a basis for planning, the combination of detailed reporting and predicted demand allows better management of replenishment activities – driving on-shelf availability. Consumers are left happier, and grocers have less stock to waste or discount, leading to greater profitability.

Bringing it all together

Success depends on responsive decision-making in the competitive grocery marketplace, which maximizes profitability while meeting changing consumer demand. The combination of grocery data analytics, grocery planning, and forecasting in a best practice IBP approach to achieve this. The benefits are far-reaching, and while the surface has just been scratched in this article, one thing is clear. Only a holistic view of the entire supply chain with the right tools to manipulate data effectively will deliver the speedy insights needed to ensure the right decisions are 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.

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Improving 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.