Chapter 4

Data-driven retailers – ready for any disruption

By marshaling ever-increasing masses of data and tapping the power of analytics to extract insight from disparate information, cloud-based finance solutions enable executives to be key players in a retailer’s efforts at performance management, process improvement, and digital transformation.

Moreover, in contrast to on-premises legacy enterprise resource platforms, these solutions are continually updated via the cloud. With modern finance solutions, retailers instantly have access to the most up-to-date functionality, while data is always secured with the latest threat intelligence.

Real time data enables rapid decision-making

In the dynamic retail industry, agility is essential for survival.  With a cloud-based finance solution, retailers have unparalleled visibility into operations across the global supply chain. As soon as market conditions change, they have massive amounts of reliable, real-time data at their fingertips, enabling them to proactively identify problems and course-correct immediately. Cloud-based finance solutions provide dashboards that unlock financial information and commercial information, which stakeholders can switch between quickly. Moreover, because the links between the commercial results and the financial results can be mapped and modeled, it’s possible to know that when one commercial knob is turned it will have a particular financial effect.

Insights provide opportunities for processes  improvements

Unified data reveals a lot about what is happening in a retailer’s backend, enabling retailers to identify obstacles as well as opportunities for process improvements across the business. For example, a report may show that stock is depleted because inventory has been sold. However, some customers haven’t received their orders yet. This can indicate there’s a fulfillment or shipping bottleneck somewhere.

From there, a retailer can drill down into the data to discover what’s really happening. Do certain products take a longer time to arrive than others? Where are the operational disruptions? And do these delays have implications for profitability? Once the issue has been pinpointed, the retailer can work to streamline processes as well as predict their effect on the bottom line.

“The main KPIs are cash flow, sales, and stock availability. If we have those under control, then the business can run and I can predict returns well. On the cost side, we can budget well in advance. The variables are in the field around it, we must be able to steer in time and keep a close eye on market developments.”

Eric van Staveren CFO, United Retail

Predictive analytics and AI/ML boost profitability

By combining data and signals from various parts of the business, cloud-based finance solutions ca unlock the potential of predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. These insights provide a deeper look into a retailer’s operations, enabling retailers to look ahead and even make predictions about how to make the business more profitable.This technology can discover connections and correlations in discrete parts of the business where no one would think to look.

For example, the CFO can identify local opportunities where there’s a gap in the market or the likely outcomes of different pricing strategies in each location. Across the organization, other teams benefit as well. Merchandising teams can see patterns and make granular predictions about product successes and sales, even for new launches. And marketing teams can understand the effect of promotions and model the success of future campaigns.

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