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#3 in Our SaaS Merchandising Blog Series

It’s time for a SaaS retail revolution! The retail industry, like all business, is awash in unprecedented amounts of rich, real-time customer data. But that says nothing about whether individual retailers access that information, or use it efficiently, or share it widely, or gain competitive insights from it, or put those insights into profitable action.

See if one or more of the following issues rings true for your organization.

Retailer Challenge: Inability to Use Available Data

All retailers collect customer data, but relatively few companies use it effectively to drive desired business outcomes. A Forbes survey found only 13 percent of companies are considered “leaders” in leveraging customer data, while a Forrester survey noted more than half of retailers (52%) struggle with data analysis. These difficulties derive from the retail world’s widespread, entrenched impediments including persistent data silos and slow adoption of game-changing technologies.

This one is particularly frustrating—and eminently solvable.

Retailer Challenge: Inefficient Processes for Planning, Analytics, and More

Manual processes for such daily tasks as data entry, collation, and report generation squander huge amounts of time and energy, introduce inaccuracies, and hamper a retailer’s ability to scale up. Recent studies reveal that up to 70 percent of retailers rely on spreadsheets as their core tool for analytics and planning, and 85 percent say they have found errors. Manual processes also limit visibility into data, especially in real time, which thwarts informed decision-making. And as organizations grow, manual systems become increasingly cumbersome, making it ever-more difficult for retailers to scale their analytics capabilities.

Retailer Challenge: Inaccurate Forecasting from Outdated Methods

Half of retailers still make planning decisions based on gut instinct rather than data, research shows. Half! That may have worked OK for some retailers when historical sales data was a solid predictor of future trends. But no more. Retailers must be prepared for ever-evolving consumer behaviors. And spreadsheets don’t integrate with other critical business processes, such as procurement and inventory management for the supply chain.

Retailer Challenge: Siloed Operations that Stymie Collaboration

If a retailer’s product, customer, and other teams don’t base their decisions on the same data insights, there’s a good chance they’ll duplicate effort, miss opportunities, and work at cross-purposes at least some of them time. Retail companies—like organizations in other industries—often hold data in data in disparate or non-digital systems, which interferes with, if not outright prevents, cross-department collaboration and the ability to gain a holistic view across the business.

Retailer Challenge: Losing Ground to the Competition

Retail moves fast. You must keep up with evolving customer demands and unforeseen trends—and competitors. Very hard to do without thoughtful investment in data technology and expertise. On-premises software simply may not provide the real-time information—or the ability to scale up or down quickly enough or engage in companywide collaboration—you need to stay ahead of the competition in a fast-changing marketplace.

About that SaaS Revolution …

Is it time to enter the modern age of SaaS? It is if you’re making planning decisions based on spur-of-the-moment instincts or lengthy, spreadsheet-based planning cycles. A SaaS technology platform enables agile, proactive decision-making based on real-time data that produces accurate forecasting. There are excellent reasons more than three quarters of all organizations are currently investing in SaaS offerings, with no sign of slowing down.

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This is the third in a series exploring the power of SaaS platforms to transform retail merchandising.

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