Retail analysis: The Usual Suspects – Personalisation & Patterns

It’s very easy for a retailer to go chasing in circles attempting to catch the evasive scraps of essential new data, insights and analysis blown into a constant ferment by the prevailing winds of new information. Throw into this cyclone complex omni-channel data, progressively pervasive loyalty programme insights, beacons pursuing the personalisation profile of every customer and we have nothing less than a hurricane force of facts at our out-stretched fingertips.



Important as these insights are, in many cases incremental opportunities to improve store sales are still closer to hand, within easier reach, in fact under our feet with data sets and operational processes embedded in the foundation stones of any worthwhile retailer.

The fact is that still this bedrock information is not combined correctly with operational processes to maximise the efficiency and sales potential of stores.

Securing the sale still needs to be mastered before chasing the ever-evasive additional customer.

The Usual Suspects. Let’s take a walk through the parade, familiar to all but not always easy to identify:

  1. POS sales values & patterns by category
  2. Store traffic & conversion patterns
  3. Product rates of sale and unit depth

“Sell to the customer what they want to buy! Not what they don’t” screams the POS data. No matter how uncomfortable the messages only a fool would fail to listen and act on them. Every assortment from fine fragrance to throwaway fashion is built around the lessons of what customers already buy. The wise amongst us learn to look beyond the numbers to identify the traits and personalities of what sells and what is left to languish in the cold neglected corners of our retail stores. From buyers and assortment planners to merchandisers and space planners it pays to pay attention to the POS plaintive.

“Catch me if you can!” the lessons learnt from store traffic rates and conversions are a must for all involved in staff scheduling, homing in on hourly, daily and weekly routines. Be on your guard prioritising those actions which respond appropriately to the sound of friendly footfall, from obsessive replenishment to feed the frenzy, attentive service armed to comply with every request, service centricity manning the barricades for the bustling masses. Attention to detail and intelligent planning can make every store ready for all eventualities but particularly for those that are predictably profitable.

“Now you see me, now you don’t!” Realise that retail is 4 dimensional, that making money is an ongoing process and that from the bright success of sales comes the timely threat of empty shelves and customer dissatisfaction. Understanding product dynamics, being in touch with rates of sales and responding the product cover requires the three-pronged approach of replenishment, refreshment and renewal. Beware the fickle friend that becomes your eternal enemy and the fact that the first sale you can’t make may be your last opportunity to make any.

It is an irony in this world of personalisation that it is still the cumulative activity of the anonymous that drives retail success in stores.

Personalisation may be the trend but patterns never go out of style.

Traffic patterns related to store operations and service cultures, conversion patterns related to replenishment and refreshment of proposition, sales patterns related to the assortment plan and promotional calendar, store grading and assortment clustering.

The new faces on the block may catch the attention and steal the limelight but when it comes to catching the evasive customer, to finding the keys that unlock the loyalty of our locations, never lose sight of the usual suspects lurking in the lucrative shadows of our retail world.


Are you making the most of the retail data closest to hand?

Are you using the conclusions from your sales data to improve your store operations?


VM-unleashed works with retailers and brands to analyse their available data, to draw conclusions and identify opportunities to improve store operations, efficiency and profit.

For more information please contact me…