Visibility across a retailer’s complex operational structure is key to ensuring that supply chains are operational and customers are happy. Data visibility makes companies more resilient, yet research shows that 60% of supply chain leaders have optimized their operations for efficiency, not resilience.
Integrated systems give retailers a bird’s-eye view of their data, empowering teams to get ahead of logistics hurdles, identify inefficiencies, predict future trends, and pinpoint areas for improvement. In this article, we’ll discuss exactly what data visibility is, and how to use that newfound data to make better decisions.
Data visibility refers to the ease with which contributors within an organization can monitor, display, and analyze data from different sources. Greater visibility gives retailers a head start in addressing problems, reducing the amount of corrective action in the future.
Let’s use supply chain visibility as an example. The goal of supply chain visibility is to understand how an organization’s supply chain works and reduce risks. Combine those elements with customer data, and a retailer has a supply chain that can be efficiently optimized.
As supply chains grow increasingly complex, retailers struggle to maintain visibility into what happens between product creation and final disposition. With the right systems, retailers can increase coordination between their business segments and third-party partners, make informed decisions about how and where to allocate resources, and deliver better customer service.
To achieve real-time visibility, retailers must collect data at each stage of the product journey, (from the manufacturer, all the way to the customer’s doorstep), and share that data throughout the organization in a way that can be quickly accessed and analyzed. As a rule, data should be
visible, actionable, and readily available to all stakeholders. Organizations should be tracking and acting on data through their CRM, Inventory Management, and Logistics systems—all of which need to interact with one another.
Effective retail CRM software provides insights about a customer’s past purchases, items they’re looking for, and what they’re likely to purchase in the future. If the customer has left reviews about past purchases, the CRM can track what they have liked and disliked, and, if the customer makes a return, catalog the reasons for the return. Data from the CRM is used to track the customer lifetime value (CLV), and can be leveraged to drive future conversion—either by customizing the shopper’s website experience to feature products they’ll like or to make sizing recommendations.
Merchandisers can use data from the CRM when planning the seasonal assortment, and marketers may use it for email marketing, retargeting, and customized promotions. Visibility into this type of customer data can transform sales strategy from an art into a science.
Knowing the exact location and quantities of inventory can help retailers serve customers with more fulfillment options, and make more nimble fulfillment decisions. Omnichannel retailers, in particular, have the opportunity to merge their brick-and-mortar and ecommerce inventory to offer BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) or ship-from-store options. For example, fast fashion leader Zara has a system where out-of-stock online orders ship directly from the store if an item is available in one of 2,000 nearby locations.
Data from inventory management systems helps retailers identify the most efficient fulfillment channel, schedule promotions, and decide when and how to reallocate inventory.
Returns data can be almost as effective as reviews for evaluating product quality and operational systems. Because online returns collect a reason code before approving a return, they can serve as a built-in feedback loop.
With Narvar Returns, for example, retailers have increased visibility into why items are coming back, and can reduce this number with the insight provided by reason codes in the Narvar platform. Product pages, in turn, can be updated with more accurate photos or better sizing and fit advice, manufacturers can be notified to modify their sizing, and packagers can be asked to pack differently if items arrive broken.
Retailers need a unified view of their orders and carrier data so they can spot where to make changes to improve processes. Narvar Monitor helps brands proactively detect and address supply chain issues early to meet customer expectations, communicate effectively, and ultimately build brand loyalty.
According to the Business Continuity Institute, 72% of suppliers who dealt with a supply chain breakdown lacked the full, real-time visibility they needed for a fast solution. Data from a logistics manager, like Monitor, gives retailers a real-time, 360-degree view of their package logistics, personalized insights, and actionable intelligence in a unified dashboard, teams can respond to logistics disruptions early to mitigate customer experience problems.
Every interaction yields information about a customer and their preferences, and gives a retailer more information to serve that customer. The most successful retailers are capturing information at every touchpoint to inform their decisions. Using billions of consumer interactions, Narvar distills those data points into intelligence that retailers can take advantage of right away, including a dashboard to assess trends and export the data into a CRM system.
Retailers need systems to present data in a way that is actionable across operational channels, but 94% of companies admit that they don’t have full visibility into their supply chains. With more visibility into how the business is running, retailers can stay ahead of logistics problems and make sure customers are satisfied with their experiences.
Interested in learning more about how your team can improve visibility across your networks and logistics operations? Get in touch with one of our experts to chat about the best options for your business.
Currently the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Narvar, helping 1300+ of the world's most-admired brands—including Sephora, Levi's, and L'Oréal—take their post-purchase experiences to new heights. Born and raised in San Francisco, but I've lived all over the world. Previous residences include Seattle, Denver, Santa Monica, Kinsale (Ireland), and Wellington (New Zealand). Writer by trade, football player by passion, and tall by genetic lottery.