How Retail Reports Can Grow Exponentially

By Naomi Balagot

stack-papers

If you asked a group of retail managers what they enjoy most about their jobs, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that says “the paperwork.”

That’s the case in most jobs, isn’t it? The weekly grind isn’t appealing because most of us associate worksheets and tables with the homework from our school days. The manual work of filling out this paperwork can be a chore and you’d rather be focusing on other aspects of your business, including employee interaction and customer service.

Put some intellectual curiosity back into the grind. An automated sales report can tell you when and possibly where sales were down, but it won’t tell you why. Each “why?” leads to another report intended to provide more answers to that question. Keep asking that question and you’ll find that the number of forms to complete has just multiplied.

Save your sanity, save a tree. If the paperwork seems daunting, that’s because it is. It’s why mobile software helps bridge the gap between simply knowing about a problem and truly understanding it in order to resolve it. There are tools and resources available to help you automate and streamline processes, back up data securely, and gain actionable insights.

The Branching Out of Retail Reports

Sales reports are the “skeleton key” to your business, and are typically comprised of several sub-reports. These may include product sales and return, items profit, net cost, net profit, vendor sales, and department or category sales.

With a basic sales report, you can identify inconsistencies or weaknesses in your business. From this preliminary understanding, you can then branch out into other reports in the following areas:

  • Category management
  • Vendor management
  • Promotions
  • Customers
  • Employees
  • Point-of-sale
  • Loss prevention

Once you’ve identified critical areas for analysis, you then create specific reports with clear objectives:

Inventory Report
tells you what is selling and what doesn’t, which allows you to tweak merchandise mix.

Product Pricing & Promotions Report
Are prices consistent across locations and is inventory in stock? Real-time exception reporting is useful here to account for hindrances to retail execution. For instance, you may experience unseasonably cool weather during a cold beverage promotion, or perhaps the vendor didn’t send the correct promotional materials.

Fast-moving Items Report
What’s hot and what’s not? Compare the percent increase in sales of this item to what was projected. Also, compare it to last year’s sales with historic analysis.

Vendor Performance Report
Focuses on unit sales, inventory and return measures by supplier, and timeliness of delivery. Are your vendor partners holding up their end of the agreement and are your stores communicating effectively with them?

Employee Hours Report
Compare this to your sales report to determine if you are scheduling enough or too many employees during peak times vs. slower times. This report can also help you save wages and employment taxes.

Employee Training Report
Verifies that employees are being properly informed of important procedures, including food safety, money handling and vendor scheduling.

The Takeaway

There are some reports that humans don’t have the time or energy to complete manually on a weekly basis. Honestly, why would they with 21st century technology?

However, some of the reports we identified require managers to record observations based on their interactions with vendors, customers and employees. Don’t disregard the importance of the human senses. In retail, automated processes combined with in-field observations -- whether it’s a quality ranking, a product scan or even a photo of a store condition -- can go a long way in achieving better insights.

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