UK Retailers Drowning in Sea of Data

'Retailers have too much data and too little insight' is the stark warning presented in a White Paper from Martec, sponsored by Cognos, an IBM company. "Winning in Retail" calls on all businesses to review how they use data they have available and how it can improve their performance. Businesses have access to an enormous database of information, from online versus offline sales, stock levels, margin performance and in some cases customer preferences. According to Martec, the amount of data is so large that retail management teams often can't see the wood for the trees.

An increasingly complex chain of communication is also causing problems. Issues highlighted by someone on the shop floor are rarely actionable by the time they reach decision-makers, due to the level of detail added along the way.

New, critical, key performance indicators (KPI) also impact retail businesses. Topics, such as environmental concerns, retailers' responses to climate issues and food additives are important consumer considerations.

"The traditional, simple retail models no longer apply. There are now many more KPIs to be considered. These dig deeply into retail margins, so if the high street wants to compete, it needs to react and plan quickly, based on the valuable data at hand. Planning is an essential part of the business process as there is little margin of error with unpopular lines or underperforming stores", commented Brian Hume, head of Martec.

"In more uncertain economic times retailers will have to make the most of every possible opportunity", Hume concluded.

"The difficulty for businesses is to use their data in a cohesive and practical way", said Patricia Waldron, head of retail distribution at Cognos. "This White Paper goes a long way towards advising retailers on making the most of their information."

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