CPG Brands Are Lagging on POS Data Analytics

By Eric Green

In today’s CPG environment, the playing field is far from even. At one end of the spectrum are CPG
brands that have chosen to ignore the point-of-sale (POS) data being shared by their key retailers, even
though this data is more readily available today than ever before. At the other end are category leaders, riding the wave of increased data accessibility in retail, and who have become adept at using POS data to drive decision making and strategy.

Despite this disparity and the gulf between the good and the bad, there is a tacit acknowledgement by nearly all CPG brands that they should be doing more to leverage data.

A recent survey of CPG brands by Askuity found that 81 percent of companies acknowledge that they can be doing more with POS data to grow their business. Of those brands that consider themselves leaders in the CPG space, 91 percent agree that they can indeed be doing more with their data. In contrast with other categories, the statistics show that when it comes to leveraging POS data, it’s time for CPG brands across the board to raise their game.

The journey from a data-denier to an insight-driven organization isn’t a simple and straightforward one. Aside from the largest conglomerates such as P&G and Unilever, mid-to-large-sized CPG brands admit that they are not yet equipped to make full use of the POS data being shared by key retailers such as Walmart, Target, Meijer and Walgreens. When asked why, brands are quick to cite a lack of organizational commitment (for example, no defined strategy) and a lack of organizational capabilities (lack of analytics expertise, lack of technology) as key reasons why they are not utilizing point-of-sale data.

CPG brands are increasingly realizing that companies that don’t adapt to the new ways of doing business – including using POS data effectively – risk being left behind in an increasingly digital world. Below are the key business benefits from a more modern approach to technology and leveraging POS data:

Mobile is the future for retail brands. With 56 percent of CPG companies believing their team would benefit from having real-time access to POS data on a mobile device, the industry's acceptance of this wider trend is apparent. Yet the adoption of mobile POS data in the field lags behind ambition, with only 28 percent of brands providing this data on a mobile device for field teams. This presents an easy and obvious opportunity where brands can enable their teams to use data to power decision making and drive in-store results.

Power users pose a threat. When data is managed and distributed by a single power user or team within the organization, CPG brands are far less likely to bring actionable insights into buyer meetings (44 percent), versus brands that provide self-service access to POS data for all team members (71 percent). Contrary to prevailing beliefs, it turns out that legacy reporting systems built and managed by power users reduce collaboration both internally and externally. Today, smart organizations are moving towards a self-service model of data democratization, allowing anyone in the organization to quickly and easily harness data and make more informed, data-driven decisions.

Technology matters for successful CPG brands. For better or for worse, most CPG brands indicate that they use Microsoft Excel as their primary software tool for POS analytics. But while Excel can be a very versatile tool, it can’t keep up with the “big data” reality of consumer retailing today. Whether they are looking to measure ROI on promotional spend or track retail sales plans right down to the door level, brands have indicated a need for retail-specific software if they are going to deliver on their growth objectives. Advances in technology have made this a reality, enabling brands to leave less money on the table as they optimize their retail business.

Brands that are looking to become more data-driven will find a new world of technology that can help take them from being a laggard to a leader in short order. For CPG companies, which as a group already lags behind product categories such as Electronics, Fashion and Sporting Goods in their adoption of POS data, the chance to make better use of the information available to them presents a unique opportunity to move forward in the digital age.

Eric Green is CEO of Askuity, a sales enablement platform that empowers retail brands to turn point-of-sale data into profitable insights.

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