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by Justin Guinn,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: December 9, 2016

The big, scary world of analytics isn’t really that scary anymore, especially when you have the right analytics tool in place to do the heavy lifting for you. This is especially true for retail businesses, as there are now a multitude of affordable, easy-to-use retail analytics software options on the market. Here's a quick overview of these systems, including some product demos:


It's likely your competitors are taking advantage of this technology. Need proof? The overwhelming majority of your retail business owning peers are requesting analytic components from their new point of sale (POS) systems:

Top Requested Retail Analytics Features by POS Software Buyers


Most requested retail analytics software features

Sales reporting and inventory management are common retail analytics components that most modern POS systems offer in some capacity. They provide users unparalleled transparency into the inner workings of their business. This includes:

  • Key insights around best selling items
  • Most valuable customers
  • Busiest times of the day/week/month/year

But analytics systems are not all created equal. Some are less granular but very easy to use, while others seemingly require a data scientist to make sense of the spreadsheets (that’s a slight exaggeration).

So, we’ve created this guide to help you understand the various retail analytics systems, to help you determine the features and level of complexity that are the right fit for your business.

Here's what we'll cover:

What Is Retail Analytics Software?
Common Functionality of Retail Analytics Solutions
Benefits of Retail Analytics Systems

What Is Retail Analytics Software?

Retail analytics software can be tough to pin down. It isn’t really any one thing, and you can technically find it in many software offerings. For the sake of clarity though, retail analytics for small businesses analyzes sales, inventory and customer data.

We’ve identified sales reporting, inventory management and customer management as three of the five must-have retail point of sale (POS) features for small businesses. All three of these features help you streamline operational processes, and make things easier for you, your employees and your customers. In addition there are valuable insights that can be gleaned from analyzing key data points collected through these features, such as:

  • Sales reporting and analytics: Top selling items etc.
  • Inventory management analytics: When to restock or order new products etc.
  • Customer analytics: Most valuable customers, customer segments etc.

Common Functionality of Retail Analytics Solutions

Retail analytics software functions are pretty much the same whether you’re digging into sales, inventory or customer data. However, there are some nuanced capabilities based on the origin of the data that is being analyzed. Functionality shared among most analytics-enabled POS systems includes:

Data collection Automatic collection and organized storage of data following every transaction is particularly important. Imagine if you had to pull double duty by completing a task, then going back to record multiple specific details of that task that may or may not be valuable in the long run. Analytics software saves time by automating this process.
Reporting Reporting capabilities in software store these details for future reference and analysis with the click of a button. More advanced reporting can actually take historical data and perform predictive analytics to identify potential future trends, vulnerabilities, opportunities etc.
Dashboards Dashboards take reporting and make it even easier for you to get key takeaways. These features automatically articulate the key findings from reports into easy-to-digest, often interactive visual assets such as charts, graphs and tables. Many POS systems with analytic components even offer mobile dashboards for business owners to easily check sales, customer and inventory info, while on the go.

Benefits of Retail Analytics Software

We’ve conducted consumer research that articulates the benefits of comprehensive analytics insights with regard to retaining customers. For example, the stats below highlight the fickle nature of customer loyalty if their expectations aren’t met. These statistics may be quite shocking to some:

Reasons Customers Stop Shopping at Retail Stores


Reasons Customers Stop Shopping at Retail Stores

Retail analytics tools can help you address these issues by uncovering key insights such as peak hours, days and seasons and optimize your inventory. These insights are critical in ensuring stores are properly staffed to handle busy times and properly stocked to meet the demands of consumers.

There are many benefits to retail analytics capabilities in addition to the insights uncovered in the data above. These include:

  • Pricing strategies. We’ve highlighted the various pricing strategies employed by retailers big and small to attract more customers and increase sales. However, the most important aspect of choosing an effective pricing strategy is analyzing sales data to determine which strategies have the greatest impact on sales for your business. Only with this valuable sales analysis can you infer the most successful pricing for specific products.
  • Customer loyalty programs. These programs often get a bad rap for making customers loyal to the program and not your business. There is some validity to this point. Casting a wide net with a loyalty program that’s not data driven will likely catch some customers who will be loyal to the program (i.e., the money they save). Not that your customers saving money is a bad thing, it’s just that that’s not a sustainable form of loyalty.

    On the other hand, proper retail customer analytics can help you pinpoint who your most valuable customers are. Customer management capabilities often include customer profiles with contact data. You can leverage different communication channels to reach out to the customers who spend the most in your store (based on customer purchase histories) and incentivize them to repeatedly come back. You don’t even have to take losses with discounts using this strategy. If there’s a particular brand, product etc. that a valuable customer is looking for, it can be as easy as letting them know when you’ve got more of their coveted product in stock.

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