In the retail industry, keeping up with the latest market trends, customer behaviour, and inventory levels can be challenging. As competition continues to grow, retailers must find ways to stay ahead of the game. This is where real-time reporting comes in.
Real-time reporting provides retailers with up-to-date data and insights that can help them make informed decisions that are essential for success. In this blog, we will explore the importance of real-time reporting for retailers and how it can help them stay ahead of the competition.
What is real-time reporting ?
Real-time reporting is the process of collecting and analysing data as it happens, providing businesses with the most current information possible. In the retail industry, this means monitoring sales, inventory levels, and customer behaviour in real-time. With real-time reporting, retailers can quickly identify trends and changes in the market, enabling them to make more informed decisions. This can lead to better inventory management, improved customer service, and increased sales.
The importance of real-time Reporting for retailers
The retail industry is highly competitive, with businesses constantly vying for customer attention and loyalty. Real-time reporting is crucial for retailers who want to stay ahead of their competition. By having access to the most current data, retailers can make informed decisions that allow them to react quickly to changes in the market. For example, if a particular product is selling out quickly, retailers can quickly order more stock to meet the demand. This can help them retain customers who may have otherwise gone to a competitor.
Real-time reporting also helps retailers manage their inventory more efficiently. By monitoring inventory levels in real-time, retailers can quickly identify slow-moving products and adjust their pricing or marketing strategies to boost sales. This can prevent overstocking, reduce waste, and increase profits.
The benefits of real-time reporting for retailers
Real-time reporting provides retailers with numerous benefits, including improved customer service, increased sales, and reduced costs. By analysing customer behaviour in real-time, retailers can identify patterns and preferences that allow them to provide personalised recommendations and experiences.
Real-time reporting can also help retailers reduce costs by optimising inventory levels, reducing waste, and identifying areas where they can improve their operational efficiency.
Let’s take a closer look at how real-time reporting can be a game changer for retailers.
A. Inventory Management
Retailers can use real-time reporting to monitor inventory levels in real-time. By using data visualisation tools, retailers can quickly detect which products are selling well and which are not, and adjust inventory levels accordingly. Ultimately, this improves the overall shopping experience for customers, as they can easily find the products they need and are less likely to be disappointed by empty shelves or long wait times for restocking.
B. Sales Performance
Real-time reporting provides retailers with the ability to closely monitor sales performance in real-time, enabling them to identify which products are selling well and which are not. They can easily adjust pricing, promotions, or product placement to optimise sales. This information can be used to improve the overall shopping experience by ensuring that customers are presented with the right products at the right price.
C. Customer Engagement
Thanks to real-time reporting, decision-makers can monitor customer engagement in real-time and gain insights into which marketing campaigns or promotions are resonating with customers and adjust messaging or targeting to improve engagement. As a result, retailers can provide customers with relevant and personalised offers, enhancing their overall shopping experience. By leveraging real-time reporting to track and respond to customer engagement, retailers can build stronger relationships with their customers and foster long-term loyalty.
D. Operational Efficiency
Real-time reporting can help retailers identify inefficiencies in their operations, such as long wait times or slow-moving inventory. This can help retailers streamline their operations, reduce costs, and improve the customer experience. For example, retailers can use real-time reporting to monitor store traffic and adjust staffing levels accordingly to reduce wait times.
Real-world examples of real-time reporting in action
Let’s take a look at some real-life examples of retailers who have successfully implemented real-time reporting:
Amazon Go is Amazon’s chain of convenience stores that use advanced technologies for real-time reporting.
Amazon Go stores use computer vision to track customer movements and analyse their shopping behaviour.
The system uses cameras to detect when customers pick up and put back items, and automatically adds or removes items from the customer’s virtual shopping cart.
They use sensors to track inventory levels and monitor customer traffic in real-time. This helps the company optimise its store layouts and staffing levels to ensure that customers have a positive experience.
Additionally, customers are required to download a mobile app, which enables the system to track their movements and monitor their purchases. The app also provides customers with real-time information on their shopping cart and purchase history.
In terms of video surveillance, Amazon Go uses computer vision technology to accurately track and detect customer movements and shopping behaviours. This enables the system to add or remove items from their virtual shopping carts in real-time whenever an item is put back on shelves.
Another example of an advanced solution used by Amazon Go stores is the WiFi tracking technology that detects signals from customers’ smartphones as they move throughout the store. This allows the system to track customer movements in real-time and gather data on their navigation patterns and product interests.
By analysing this data, Amazon can gain valuable insights into customer behaviour and preferences, which can help the company optimise its store layouts, inventory management, and marketing strategies. For example, if the system detects that customers are frequently stopping in a particular area of the store, Amazon can use this data to place relevant products in that area to encourage more sales.
These technologies enable Amazon Go to provide a seamless, frictionless shopping experience for customers, while also providing valuable real-time data for the company to optimise its operations.
Lowe’s, a home improvement retailer in the United States, has been implementing real-time reporting in its in-store technologies to improve the shopping experience, monitor customer traffic and enhance operational efficiency.
Here are some of the in-store technologies used by Lowe’s that utilise real-time reporting:
Lowe’s Vision is an augmented reality app that allows customers to visualise how products will look in their home. The app uses real-time reporting to provide accurate measurements and placement suggestions.
To monitor footfall and customer traffic, Lowe’s uses heat mapping technology to track the movement of customers within the store. The technology uses real-time reporting to show which areas of the store are attracting the most footfall and which areas may need to be re-merchandised to improve customer flow.
Another in-store technology used by Lowe’s is OSHbot, a robot that assists customers by answering questions, providing product information and even guiding them to the location of products. The robot uses real-time reporting to track inventory and provide timely information on product availability.
Additionally, Lowe’s Store Assistant is a mobile app that provides real-time information on product availability, pricing, and location in-store. The app also allows customers to create shopping lists and receive personalised recommendations based on their previous purchases.
The CornerShop from Capgemini, The Drum, and SharpEnd
The CornerShop from Capgemini, The Drum, and SharpEnd have collaborated to create a cutting-edge retail experience as a way to demonstrate the possibilities of advanced retail technology.
The CornerShop uses connected shelves that feature built-in sensors and cameras to detect when a product is taken off the shelf. The sensors then trigger real-time reporting, sending data to the retailer’s backend system to update inventory levels and provide insight into product popularity and demand.
Another feature used by the store is the virtual try-on technology that allows customers to create a digital twin of themselves and try on clothes virtually without needing to use changing rooms, providing a more convenient and hygienic way to shop for clothes.
The personalised experience feature uses Bluetooth location technology and customer preference input to offer customers personalised recommendations and offers based on their shopping behaviour and preferences.
Challenges and considerations for real-time reporting in retail
Real-time reporting has transformed the way retailers analyse and respond to data.
However, like any powerful tool, it comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. In this section, we will discuss some of the key challenges that retailers may face when implementing real-time reporting and how they can be addressed.
Installation of in-store technologies for real-time reporting can pose several problems to retailers. Let’s take the example of sensors such as motion or occupancy sensors.
One of the challenges of installing sensors is that retailers need to identify the best location to place them to capture the data they need. This may require analysing customer behaviour patterns, foot traffic, and other factors that can influence where sensors should be placed. Retailers may also need to consider the physical layout of the store and any potential obstacles that could interfere with sensor placement.
Another challenge is ensuring that the sensors are properly installed and calibrated to capture accurate data. Improperly installed sensors can lead to inaccurate data and reduce the effectiveness of real-time reporting technology. Retailers may need to hire specialised personnel or contractors to install and calibrate the sensors to ensure that they are functioning properly.
In addition to the technical challenges, installation of sensors can also disrupt the store’s layout and design. Retailers may need to reconfigure their store to accommodate the installation of sensors, which can affect customer traffic flow and cause inconvenience. Retailers must balance the need for accurate data with the impact of sensor installation on the customer experience.
Connectivity is a critical challenge retailers face when managing in-store technologies for real-time reporting. In-store technologies, such as sensors, smart shelves, and robots, rely on a network connection to transmit data to the cloud or on-premises servers for processing and analysis. A reliable and robust network infrastructure is essential for real-time reporting to work effectively.
Retailers need to ensure that their network infrastructure can handle the increased traffic generated by in-store technologies. This can be a challenge as adding new devices to the network can strain existing network resources, potentially causing network congestion and slowdowns. Retailers need to ensure that their networks have sufficient bandwidth to handle the increased traffic generated by in-store technologies and that they have the right network architecture in place to ensure smooth and uninterrupted data flows.
Moreover, retailers must ensure that their network connection is reliable to ensure that data flows are not interrupted. In-store technologies are often mission-critical, and any network downtime can have significant consequences, such as lost sales, decreased customer satisfaction, and increased operational costs. Retailers must have a reliable network connection to ensure that in-store technologies are always connected and available.
Another challenge with connectivity is ensuring that the network infrastructure is secure. In-store technologies transmit sensitive data about customers, such as their shopping behaviours, preferences, and habits. Retailers must ensure that their networks are secure and protected from unauthorised access and cyber threats to prevent data breaches and ensure data privacy.
Cost is an important parameter to consider when introducing new in-store technologies.
In fact, implementing technologies, such as IoT sensors, smart shelves, AR/VR, robots, and others, can be costly. Retailers must carefully weigh the costs and benefits of these technologies to ensure that they are making a wise investment.
Retailers need to consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) of these technologies, including the costs of hardware, software, installation, maintenance, and support.
The upfront costs of purchasing and installing these technologies can be significant, and ongoing costs such as maintenance and support must also be factored into the equation.
Retailers must carefully evaluate these costs against the potential benefits of these technologies, such as increased sales, improved operational efficiency, and enhanced customer experience.
Moreover, retailers must also consider the opportunity costs associated with investing in in-store technologies. For instance, if a retailer invests in expensive in-store technologies, they may have to forego other investments, such as marketing campaigns or store expansions, that may offer a higher return on investment.
D. Maintenance and Upgrades
Regular maintenance is essential to keep in-store technologies running smoothly. Retailers need to ensure that sensors, robots, and other devices are calibrated correctly, and any issues or malfunctions are promptly identified and resolved. Regular maintenance can also help extend the lifespan of these technologies, reducing the need for costly replacements.
Upgrades are another critical aspect of managing in-store technologies. In-store technologies are constantly evolving, and retailers must stay up-to-date with the latest trends to remain competitive. Upgrading in-store technologies can provide retailers with new capabilities, such as improved data analytics, enhanced customer engagement, and increased operational efficiency. Retailers must budget for regular upgrades to ensure that their in-store technologies are meeting their business goals and objectives.
However, managing maintenance and upgrades for in-store technologies can be challenging. Retailers must ensure that they have the necessary resources and expertise to maintain and upgrade these technologies. Depending on the complexity of the technology, retailers may need to hire specialised technicians or consultants to perform maintenance and upgrades.
E. Integration with existing systems
Real-time reporting is only effective when it is integrated with existing systems and processes that are already in place. This means integrating with various systems such as point-of-sale systems, inventory management systems, and customer relationship management systems. This integration is crucial as it allows retailers to have a complete view of their operations and make informed decisions based on real-time data.
It is also important for retailers to consider the scalability of their real-time reporting solution. As their business grows and evolves, retailers need to ensure that their real-time reporting solution can scale to meet their changing needs.
Overall, integrating real-time reporting with existing systems and processes is an important consideration for retailers looking to leverage the power of real-time data.
In that sense, we have developed Digazu, a platform that enables a simple implementation path for real-time reporting and integrates seamlessly with your existing business intelligence environment.
Digazu: Upgrade your BI to real time
Digazu is a software solution that packages the required technologies for real-time data engineering, in a low-code approach.
The technology provides an accessible implementation path for creating industrialised real-time data pipelines that feed into your BI tools, hence reporting.
Digazu delivers everything you need for seamless real-time streaming, built-in retention, and rich transformations. With our low-code / no-code user experience, enterprise-grade infrastructure, Digazu takes the guesswork out of real-time business intelligence.
The solution’s governance and privacy features ensure data privacy while out-of-the-box and cloud-ready deployment ensures that you can easily integrate it into your existing workflow without any hassle.By providing a comprehensive suite of features, Digazu is poised to transform the way businesses approach real-time BI.
Whether you’re just getting started with real-time BI or you’re a seasoned veteran, Digazu has everything you need to succeed. To find out more, get in touch with one of our experts at digazu.com.