Real-time data plays a critical role in retail. It can be used to inform marketing campaigns, personalisation efforts and enables retailers to be more agile when it comes to capitalising on seasonal events or spur of the moment occurrences. Which is why data generated at the POS is so important. It shows shopping behaviour right down to store level, transaction-by-transaction, generating millions of customer insights every day — all in real-time.
Combining historical and real-time data
However, much as the real-time data generated at the POS is hugely powerful, it becomes even more so when it’s combined with historical data. And the more data, the better. Historical data can boost real-time data in many ways such as improving sales forecasting and marketing agility. Last year’s transaction data can give an insight into sales, at product level, so inventory can be planned accordingly.
But, using historical data collected over several years can provide even greater insights by highlighting patterns in seasonal trends, and providing a much higher level of accuracy when it comes to ordering the right amount of stock at the right time.
While historical data is a vital aid to sales forecasting, it can also be used as a tool to improve marketing agility and effectiveness. Not only can it be used to inform marketing campaigns, but it can also be used to guide decision-making when it comes to the best time to launch the campaign.
For instance, a theory that chocolate sales are likely to increase in the lead-up to Christmas is one that historical data can be used to validate. But, further analysis of the data should enable predictions to be made about when sales are most likely to pick up, enabling the marketing department to launch its campaign at the optimal time to maximise impact, sales and ROI.
Meeting customer demands
In an age when we all want instantaneous information and feedback, real-time data is key. Combining the transaction data generated at the POS with historical data can deliver an even stronger strategy for retailers. Carefully analysed historical data allows campaigns to be planned months in advance, but even so, it's not possible to predict sales exactly.
It is the real-time data element that ensures that campaigns remain dynamic. It can track sales at a precise level, allowing retailers to adapt, extend or turn off campaigns as needed and, most importantly, helping to meet consumers’ ever-changing demands and desires.