Article Series

Pandemic Exposes Cracks in Retail Technology

Crack 5 – Analytics

Feb 11, 2021
   |   by 
Rick Boretsky

This the last blog in our series on how the pandemic has exposed cracks in most retailer’s technical foundations. The subject discussed here is analytics.

Analytics has become a “crack” in the technology of most mid-sized retailers because they are living with the analytics platform they inherited from their brick-and-mortar days. Traditional methods of organizing retail data often ignore selling channels, fulfillment channels, local demand, customer trends, and supply chain dynamics. Retailers are overcoming these shortcomings with workarounds and increasing dependency on Excel and other initiatives, however, the pandemic has accelerated the onrush of digital retailing leaving too many retailers unable to effectively measure and monitor profound changes that they are initiating. Innovation without feedback is a recipe for disaster.

It is time to assess the fitness of your analytics in this digital age, answering the following 22 yes/no questions that follow from the other 4 “cracks” that we discussed earlier in the series.


  1. Do you use your analytics to overcome your ERP’s shortcomings?
  2. Are you dependent on Excel and/or user-managed data marts to consolidate information across channels and to provide meaningful analysis?
  3. Do your analytics users have the tools and skills to build their own reports and dashboards?
  4. Do you know the cost of ownership of your analytics platform?
  5. Is your analytics response time so slow that it impairs user productivity?
  6. Are you leaning too heavily on your user analysts to provide necessary analytics?


  1. Are you able to consolidate information across your entire enterprise, including all markets, brands, countries, channels, locations, customers, and supply chains?
  2. Can you distinguish various status of unavailable local inventory such as “reserved,” “backroom stock,” “in transit,” and “display minimum?”
  3. Can you measure “comp sales” to include local sales from digital channels while excluding out of area fulfillment sales?
  4. Can you drill down from summary information to where remedial action can be taken (e.g. SKU and location)?


  1. Do you use your analytics to measure each selling channel’s metrics such as sales, return rate, conversion rate, margin, and transaction size, compared to benchmarks such plan, last year, and average location?
  2. Can you derive “cost of sales” at the customer transaction level to include channel-specific fulfillment costs such as shipping and handling costs, or margin eaters such as coupons, discounts, and loyalty redemptions?
  3. Does your analytics monitor the effectiveness and fill rate of your order allocation algorithm?
  4. Does your OMS inform your analytics about backorders, cancellations, and other demand signals?


  1. Can you track your customer’s path to purchase and correlate this information with performance information?
  2. Do you avoid the temptation to rely on siloed analytics provided by point solution software providers?
  3. Can your analytics identify shifts in customer behavior across product categories and locations”?
  4. Does your analytics monitor the effectiveness of marketing initiatives?


  1. Can you correlate supply chain information with demand and inventory position?
  2. Can your analytics pinpoint exceptions such as stockouts, overstocks, and inventory imbalances?
  3. Do your analytics measure the effectiveness of such point solutions as merchandise planning, allocation, forecasting, basic stock replenishment, and pricing?
  4. Does your analytics track supply-chain activities that might impact cost and order compliance?

Why not learn the fitness of your analytics to meet the challenges of pandemic and post-pandemic retailing? Contact us for more information and to find out how we can help.

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