Better Intelligence = Better Business: Great Retail Dashboards:

In the modern retail landscape, there are more paths to success than simply keeping prices down. Business intelligence — the science of collecting, analyzing, and using data from all aspects of your organization — can give you powerful insights into how your retail company really works. Software tools like digital dashboards allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of your organization and make wise decisions quickly.

Dashboards Defined:

A digital dashboard is a powerful management tool that collects vitally important information and presents it all in a compact, easy-to-use format. Dashboards are a crucial piece of business intelligence software in the retail sector, as they allow you to quickly observe the current flow of your organization. Dashboards must necessarily update their information in real time – or close to it.

The software that you use to organize and update your dashboards needs to be highly flexible (see below). When they’re designed and used correctly, dashboards can be invaluable decision-making tools. Conversely, a poorly-implemented dashboard can be useless or even deceptive.

Building an Integrated System

Some retail companies rely on integrated business intelligence software that can manage all aspects of retail information. This is rarely a suitable solution for larger businesses, though. It’s likely that different departments in your company use different tools to best accomplish their goals. Fortunately, most modern retail software is designed with the intention to work with a wide range of other software suites. This is usually accomplished via API (Application Programming Interface) compatibility. APIs allow data to flow from one piece of software to another in a useful, automated format.

For example, your POS software routinely tracks the details of every sale your company makes. If that information never leaves the POS software, it’s virtually useless to other parts of your organization. If POS data is output through a standardized API, though, it can be seamlessly picked up by all sorts of other software — including your dashboard programs.

Buying Flexible Tools

As noted above, dashboards are only useful when they’ve been properly designed for your specific needs. This means you need retail software with a great degree of flexibility. Care must be taken to preserve simplicity, though. The most flexible software suites are often the most unintuitive. Striking a balance between open-ended and easy-to-use software is one of the biggest challenges in retail IT.

When it comes to dashboards, the software tools which are easiest to use typically constrain your options. If you want to build a truly customized dashboard, the assistance of IT professionals is usually required. This adds a layer of complexity to the implementation process — it means you can’t use your business intelligence software right out of the box — but it’s invaluable for building truly effective tools.

In the end, software for business intelligence is all about speeding up the kind of in-depth analysis that used to require weeks of consultation to achieve. With the right software tools, you can put powerful real-time insights about your business at your fingertips. Dashboards are just one of the many business intelligence tools available to you.