How many spreadsheets = Retail Success?

Jun 13, 2013 in Retail

Retail success has long been defined by the age-old “Supply and Demand” formula; sales, inventory, and pricing decisions are driven by store level sales and execution. I addressed this notion in an earlier blog post titled, “Everyone is talkin’ about Measuring Retail”. Today, it is still just as apparent that the tools and reporting methods being applied fall short of their intended capabilities.

A major problem is in relying on the spreadsheet; a tool that once turned the world of analytics upside down with its inherent computing and formulaic powers. Today we are now aware that the spreadsheet method, while still being useful in some aspects, is antiquated, full of holes, inaccurate and just not at all secure. More importantly, it does not always help to highlight immediate action items compared to newer applications for data collection and analytics.

In a recent m-Power blogExcel Spreadhseets are often a giant waste of money” from a company who builds custom enterprise software and applications, the author/developer goes into several reasons why the spreadsheet should not be today’s preferred tool.

He writes,

“Excel is the most commonly misused program in existence. It is used for all sorts of tasks that it was never meant to handle including business intelligence, reporting, and executive dashboards. When spreadsheets are used in these ways, they can become a waste of money for a business.”

He goes on to cite a series of summarized bullet points to strengthen this case:

  • They waste time
  • They are a huge security risk
  • They waste space
  • They are inaccurate

The solution?

“Automate your spreadsheets with web applications, save money”.

This is not only true for the data collection side, but for the analytics side as well. Picture this: the VP of Sales nationally gets an inbox full of disparate data, random photos and inconsistent spreadsheets. The task then becomes making sense of all of that information and turning it into actionable data. It can take too long to find that needle in the haystack, and sometimes forces quicker and less accurate decision making.

Enter: The Mobile Revolution and the Mobile Workforce.

This was the recent focus at the NRF ‘13 convention where retailers were focused primarily on employee engagement. With the rise of BYOD, it has become apparent that empowering your workforce and employees with practical tools that can automate previously painstaking processes is quite simple if you leverage their mobile devices. Mobile devices can collect data with applications that provide real time, geo-tagged, verified, secure and valid data from the field. Not only that, with the right system and application this data can be collected in a uniform and structured way into a simple, single, real-time reporting view. This is the technology that will either make spreadsheets more effective in the data they sort, or eliminate the need for them altogether by providing an automatic reporting system.

A jumbled mess of spreadhseets; Image via: http://www.sbswa.com/

This move to employee empowerment and clearer reporting with mobile is already happening as RIS reports. The Retail Info Systems News Blog published their annual report & store systems study, and notice its title: “10th Annyal Store Systems Study 2013: Mobility Changes Everything”.  Authors Lee Holman and Greg Buzek provide some powerful statistics in their study that support the growth of integrated systems that not only will add visibility and clarity to operational and store level execution, but will also aid in physical store expansion. In the report they go on to cite that 66% of those surveyed are planning new stores in 2013 and 58% are planning an increase in their IT staffing. “Increased expansion parallels increased IT investment with the average IT budget growth up 4.8% over 2012.”

The retail industry is not adopting mobile technology silently as they need to equip their mobile workforce with the proper tools to eliminate the time, money and data lost in a single spreadsheet. The tools are now available and the retail world is primed and ready for this upgrade.

For more about GoSpotCheck and the mobile/web solutions we provide, please see Our Product Overview for Retail Execution here!