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A Merchant’s Road Trip To True Actionable Insight…

By: Sharon Schell, Industry Principal at SAP

The retail landscape certainly has evolved since I started in the industry 25 years ago. .  The challenges retailers face have grown more complex but the fundamental need for actionable insight into their business drivers has not changed. Retailers and IT still are struggling to “solve the dilemma of getting information to merchants quickly.” according to RSR Benchmark Report.  Understanding Customer needs, predicting future trends, keeping up with Customer demands and expectations and delivering a great customer experience is becoming more and more challenging as there is an explosion of information companies have to analyze, understand and turn into action.

After 20+ years as a retail merchant (I started when I was 10!), I have experienced first hand and seen the landscape change dramatically in terms of the tools merchants can leverage to gain actionable insight into their business and enable them to ‘drive’ the KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) critical to their area of responsibility.  I have always had an insatiable curiosity when it came to new ways to look at my business and understand the underlying dynamics, but was often frustrated by how long it took to get reports and always wanted more detailed information.  I was on the perpetual search for new tools or systems that could carry my team to our destination – actionable insight into the business – faster, and enable us to make decisions with more confidence and conviction.

My road trip began on more of a bike with training wheels when we used weekly static reports and rekeyed the data into Excel to give us ‘insight’ to drive our business.   This insight, as rudimentary and time consuming as it was, nevertheless, impacted my decision-making process and the course I took. 

The next evolution—like a compact car with power windows—was a fashion database where the merchants could customize queries and download them to Excel.  This eliminated the redundancy of rekeying the information and enabled us to create our own unique analysis that answered our business questions to a certain point without the assistance of MIS or IT.  (We felt so empowered…little did we know) 

Fast-forward to today and the pace of the business now demands real time access to this information to remain agile, responsive and relevant.  The industry is ripe for a solution that empowers merchandising, marketing, and store-operations staff to make real-time fast, informed decisions that drive efficiency, profitability, competitiveness, and growth.

With innovations in technology, a retailer can now get there much more efficiently.  SAP recently introduced the SAP BusinessObjects Sales Analysis for Retail analytic application powered by SAP HANA.  This transformative solution, backed by In-Memory processing speed and power, can quickly and effectively guide retailers through the mountains of data to drive to actionable insight. 

To learn more about SAP Retail Solutions that can provide you with actionable insights, please attend:

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