In any industry, insight is important. In the consumer packaged goods (CPG) and retail industries, it’s everything.
Without meaningful insights into consumer behavior and purchasing activity; product, category, and store-level performance; inventory conditions; and market dynamics, both CPGs and retailers will find it quite difficult to achieve their desired business outcomes and outperform their competitors.
How, though, can both parties arrive at those insights, increase speed to gaining them, and make collaborative, critical decisions that propel their businesses forward? Two simple words: data sharing.
Data sharing is a business necessity for a company’s digital transformation
and for facilitating innovation and accelerating profitable growth.
Data sharing is nothing new or revolutionary—but when conducted properly, it is extremely powerful and significantly increases the usability and value of data. It can also be the determining factor in whether you and your retailer partners win or lose at the physical and digital shelves.
Over the last several years, the focus on data, reporting, and analytics has grown exponentially for CPGs to where it is—or at least should be—a company’s most valuable asset. Armed with near real-time retail point-of-sale (POS) and inventory data, suppliers can better understand who is purchasing their products, identify which products and promotions perform best, anticipate consumer trends, and ensure improved in-store execution and higher on-shelf availability rates.
Data sharing is a business necessity for a company’s digital transformation and for facilitating innovation and accelerating profitable growth. Yet, many CPGs (and retailers) remain hesitant to share data internally and externally. As a result, companies aren’t realizing the full potential and value of their data. And for the companies that rely on instinct, “guesstimates,” or anecdotal information to understand their product, category, and retailer performance, they are at a competitive disadvantage in an omnichannel, ever-changing marketplace.
What is Data Sharing All About, and Why Should CPGs Care?
Traditionally, data sharing is defined as the practice of making data used for academic research available to other investigators. In the business world, though, data sharing is about the ability to make the same sets of data available to multiple users, departments, business areas, or applications. However, it includes more than only data—it includes technologies, practices, and cultural aspects that facilitate secure data access and ensure data integrity across all entities consuming the data.
In the context of CPG companies and retailers, data sharing typically refers to the exchange of supply and demand information, reporting, and insights to enhance business operations and efficiencies, optimize supply chain management, improve product offerings, increase sales, and ultimately provide better experiences for shoppers and consumers.
CPGs don’t always have the capabilities or personnel to collect, clean, harmonize,
and make data readily available to relevant parties for analysis and insights.
But, when trying to achieve all that, CPGs often hit a wall or walls. Effectively implementing data sharing and data sharing best practices can be limited because of time, capital, and risk capacity, as well as a reliance on legacy systems, technology, and behaviors. Complicating matters further, some CPGs inhibit access to valuable data, maintain data silos, and for whatever reason, discourage data sharing among business areas.
Also, CPGs don’t always have the capabilities or personnel to collect, clean, harmonize, and make data readily available to relevant parties for analysis and insights. Even if they did, usually, by the time they complete the process to provide data to various teams, the data is outdated, often inaccurate, and quite likely incomplete.
Despite these obstacles, there is sophisticated, cloud-based retail data collection, integration, and sharing technology, such as Retail Velocity’s VELOCITY® platform, that can alleviate the associated headaches CPG companies experience and reduce the risks and costs of such activities.
By creating and leveraging a common, comprehensive data source—“one version of the truth”—that can be easily and regularly shared and used for collaborative decision-making both internally and externally, brands and retailers can extract the full value of their data, increase speed to meaningful insights, and enhance the entire retail value chain.
THE ADVANTAGES OF DATA SHARING
By combining their data and transforming it into actionable business insights to make more-informed decisions, suppliers and their retailer partners can realize numerous, significant benefits across practically all business areas.
Here are some of the key advantages for each party:
Improved Demand Forecasting. Data sharing allows CPGs to access and analyze near real-time POS data, sales trends, and market insights from various retailers. With better visibility into demand patterns, companies can optimize their supply chain, reduce stockouts, and improve inventory management.
Enhanced Product Innovation. Access to shared data can provide valuable insights into consumer preferences, needs, and feedback. This helps brands better understand the market, identify gaps, and develop innovative products that align with consumer expectations, ultimately leading to more successful product launches.
Targeted Marketing and Personalization. Data sharing enables CPGs to understand consumer behavior and preferences more deeply. By leveraging this information, they can create personalized marketing campaigns and targeted advertisements that resonate with their audience, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates.
Efficient Trade Promotions. Sharing data with retailers can lead to more effective trade promotions and collaborative marketing efforts. Understanding the performance of past promotions and optimizing them based on shared data can result in mutually beneficial outcomes for both CPG manufacturers and retailers.
Supply Chain Optimization. Data sharing can improve supply chain visibility by providing near real-time information on inventory levels, transportation status, and production schedules. This enables more efficient logistics planning, reduced lead times, and cost savings throughout the supply chain.
Category Management and Shelf Optimization. Shared data can help CPG companies work closely with retailers to optimize product assortments and shelf placements. By analyzing retail sales and customer data, they can jointly make informed decisions on product positioning and category management strategies.
Consumer Loyalty and Retention. Utilizing shared data to understand consumer preferences and purchase behavior allows brands to enhance customer loyalty programs and develop tailored retention strategies. Satisfied and loyal consumers are more likely to become brand advocates, leading to increased sales and brand reputation.
Competitive Advantage. Data sharing can provide a competitive edge in a crowded market. Companies that can analyze and act on shared data more effectively can make better business decisions, respond to market changes faster, and outperform competitors.
Data sharing should be viewed as a door to many opportunities to develop stronger, more-trusting supplier-retailer relationships and to drive company performance, growth, and profitability.
Personalized Customer Experience. By sharing and analyzing customer data, retailers can gain insights into individual preferences, purchase history, and behaviors. This information enables them to provide personalized product recommendations, targeted promotions, and customized marketing campaigns, enhancing the overall shopping experience and fostering customer loyalty.
Improved Inventory Management. Data sharing with suppliers and distributors allows retailers to gain near real-time visibility into inventory levels and demand patterns. This, in turn, helps optimize stock levels, reduce stockouts, and prevent overstock situations, leading to more efficient inventory management and cost savings.
Enhanced Demand Forecasting. Access to shared data from various sources, including suppliers, manufacturers, and market analytics, enables retailers to make more accurate demand forecasts. Improved forecasting helps them align their inventory and supply chain activities with customer demand, reducing waste and improving overall operational efficiency.
Efficient Supply Chain Operations. Data sharing among supply chain partners facilitates better collaboration, communication, and coordination. Retailers can closely monitor product movement, track shipments, and respond quickly to any disruptions, leading to smoother supply chain operations and improved order fulfillment.
Omnichannel Integration. Data sharing allows retailers to seamlessly integrate their online and offline channels, providing customers with a consistent and cohesive shopping experience across various touchpoints.
Enhanced Marketing and Advertising. With shared data, retailers can create more targeted marketing campaigns and advertisements. By understanding their customers better, retailers can reach the right audience with the right message at the right time, resulting in higher conversion rates and better return on marketing investments.
Vendor Performance Evaluation. By sharing sales and inventory data with vendors, retailers can evaluate their suppliers' performance more objectively. This data-driven approach can lead to stronger partnerships, better negotiations, and mutually beneficial business relationships.
Data-Driven Decision-Making. Data sharing enables retailers to make informed, data-driven decisions across various aspects of their business, including product assortment, marketing, pricing, and promotions. This minimizes guesswork and maximizes the likelihood of successful outcomes.
Business Growth and Competitiveness. Ultimately, data sharing empowers retailers to stay agile, adapt to market changes quickly, and maintain a competitive edge. By harnessing the power of data, retailers can innovate, expand their offerings, and remain relevant in a rapidly evolving retail landscape.
Data sharing should be viewed as a door to many opportunities to develop stronger, more-trusting supplier-retailer relationships and to drive company performance, growth, and profitability. As the amount and value of retailers’ data, including physical store and e-commerce POS and inventory data, continues to grow, so will the benefits to sharing that data.
It's important to note that any data sharing should be conducted ethically and securely, with appropriate data privacy and compliance measures in place, especially to protect consumer information, and should adhere to relevant regulations. Proper data governance and collaboration agreements between companies and partners are essential to ensure the responsible use of shared data.
Why Aren’t CPG Companies and Retailers Sharing Data?
If the benefits to data sharing and collaboration apply to nearly all participants in the retail value chain, why aren’t CPGs and retailers sharing more data—and sharing it more often? There are several reasons.
One of the key reasons why data sharing is underutilized in the CPG-retailer relationship, is, to put it simply, there is too much data. A LinkedIn article on the topic of data sharing, mentions that with data coming in from so many different sources, a company that lacks the tools, technology, or expertise to organize and analyze it, cannot handle the sheer volume of it.
Another major factor that inhibits data sharing is that many organizations don’t possess a data-driven culture. If these companies already do not incorporate data into their decision-making processes, then they will likely not see a need to let data—the most accurate and timely data—inform the future of their business. By incorporating and encouraging collaborative data sharing, companies can knock down data silos and siloed mindsets and eliminate guesswork and gut instincts that decisions are often based upon.
The retail industry is extremely competitive, and it seems like there is more competition popping up every day. As such, retailers sometimes fear sharing sensitive data with suppliers and running the risk of compromising privacy or security. On top of that, some retailers and CPGs don’t like change and are resistant to change their ways.
Systems and Strategy:
Even if a CPG has the data it wants, the data might be siloed and difficult to access, and the company may lack a unified data strategy, as well as the technology to properly manage and leverage the data. This lack of disparate data integration and harmonization—and if the company is relying on legacy systems and processes to manage its data—can cause both the CPG and retailer to make flawed business decisions and miss key growth opportunities.
The absence of a unified data strategy and continuation of legacy behaviors can land another significant blow to effective data sharing. When individuals and teams remain in their data and department silos, they can lose sight of the big picture and miss opportunities to gain a comprehensive understanding of customers, consumers, products, and market behavior and trends.
Overall, it comes down to the data that is being shared. There is no benefit in sharing inaccurate, incomplete, or outdated retail data between suppliers and retailers, so it’s necessary to share and leverage data at its cleanest, most-granular level, i.e., at an item-store level. Data and data sharing becomes invaluable when it is complete and can be presented in a way that highlights the growth opportunities for both parties.
As previously noted, data sharing has existed for years but has not always been implemented or implemented effectively, both within a CPG’s own four walls and with retailer partners. However, now, with more sophisticated technology available, such as VELOCITY®, that can seamlessly and cost-effectively collect, cleanse, and harmonize daily item- and store-level retail data, CPGs can quickly and easily share trustworthy data at scale—and have no excuse to not do so, no matter company size.
Make collaborative data sharing the centerpiece of your sales,
marketing, and supply chain strategies and decisions.
Retailers are sitting on a gold mine of data—a very large one—that CPGs can, and should, turn into actionable business insights to better inform critical decisions that can increase sales, revenue, and profit margins and improve operational efficiencies, retailer relationships, and consumer satisfaction. If a brand wants to have the right product on the right shelf at the right time and at the right price, then they need to ensure the right people have the right data at the right time.
Sharing is caring, and if you care about your business, your partners, and your consumers—which we know you do—make collaborative data sharing the centerpiece of your sales, marketing, and supply chain strategies and decisions. By creating and fostering a data-sharing mindset and culture, along with investing in the required technology and expertise to effectively manage their retail data, CPGs will have a competitive weapon and differentiator that can lead to greater long-term success.
Data sharing is only effective if you're sharing the most timely and accurate point-of-sale and inventory data. Contact us today to learn more about how Retail Velocity can help you automatically collect and leverage the highest quality retail data from all your retail data sources.