Industry-specific data analytics technology has advanced exponentially over the last decade. Before the development of analytics software, data management relied on manual input. Purchase orders were received in person, over the phone, or by way of fax or email. Today’s data analytics solutions offer distributors the ability to sift through mountains of data to discover the gold.
The need for clean, actionable data
Distributors routinely identify the top internal threats to ongoing success as poor data quality, non-integrated systems, and pricing inefficiencies. In the world of manual input and pivot tables, dirty data is common. Dirty data is data that is outdated, incomplete, redundant, or otherwise inaccurate due to mistakes during input.
American customers also specifically report that competitive giants such as Amazon and the impacts from tariffs in as top external threats. Data analytics software such as Phocas integrates all of a distributor’s disparate data sources into one single, clean data source. With a clear view of their business, distributors can move from a manual input world to an automated world. This will increase efficiency, improve pricing strategies, enable growth within the current market, and improve the customer experience. If companies are to remain competitive, distributors must develop a data-driven culture and implement a data discovery model.
When making the transition to a data-driven business model, it’s important to get cross-functional team support from every stakeholder. This should include leadership in sales, warehouse, finance, and IT departments. Many integrations fail because one or more stakeholders haven’t fully expressed their needs because they don’t understand the plan. Therefore, ensure everyone is on the same page before you moved ahead. Once the plan is in place, enlist leadership to drive the new initiative and empower your employees with data.
How to empower employees with data discovery
We are living in an infographic world. From images to social media to data discovery, visualizations are a great way to tell stories. Converting your data into a bar, bullet, column, gauge or pie chart will help the information to jump off the page. Dual-axis charts that animate when opening and filtering, heat maps, and circle markers engage the brain better than text, so users can understand their data at a glance.
Data analytics solutions like Phocas are designed to be used by the nontechnical user. Users can create customized reports on the fly and query the data for actionable insights. For instance, managers can follow their train of thought and drill up or down into the data. Deep-dive analytics and data discovery will help users identify which questions to ask and find the answers they’re looking for, as well as new opportunities they didn’t even know were there. Because data analytics solutions are so easy-to-use and understand, new users readily adopt these new solutions.
Where to carry out data discovery for big results?
As distribution companies modernize, customers will have the freedom to place orders electronically using a mobile device or website. This electronic ordering has become automated in some cases. For example, purchase orders can now be placed instantly from a vending machine. When a customer buys two items from the machine, it will automatically send a purchase order to the distributor for replacement. This ability to carry our data discovery has never been more important to achieving success in today’s digital world.
To that end, the three most important data sources to mine for big results are your inventory management, ERP and pricing, and eCommerce platform systems. Implementing a data analytics solution like Phocas that integrates these three systems will enable you to see what your customers are ordering and how often they are ordering. This will provide insight into setting your re-ordering points, forecasting inventory, and improving pricing. Furthermore, integrating these three data sources will enable distributors to leverage their data for critical decision-making that is based on the facts. To supercharge your data discovery, distributors should take advantage of external marketing data to determine things like their market size and market share. Lastly, if possible, bring in supplier data to unlock profits.
The key to managing the complexity of your data is by simplifying the analytics and data discovery process. Funneling all of your data into a single repository and creating easy-to-understand visualizations is essential when dealing with vast amounts of data.
For more information on ways data analytics can help distributors, download the Future of Wholesale Distribution eBook. or click the image below.