Written by: Rebecca Roedell
In just about every role as retail CFO—from Tower Records to Sharper Image, the board has always asked me to act in a CEO or COO capacity. It’s a natural fit in retail for a CFO because in retail it’s all about the data. As a CFO, you have the experience and understanding of the numbers so you can answer questions from the leadership team to help run the business. You want to have a proactive approach, to execute with insight by accessing critical information in real-time, with a thought towards optimizing performance, anticipating trends, and capitalizing on opportunities. All of which requires a genuine 360-degree view of the business—naturally, provided to us by Microsoft Dynamics for Retail.
Recently, for example, our team was having a conversation about determining how we’ll hit a certain revenue number this year. People can always throw out thoughts and ideas, sketching on the back of an envelope…But when you can get the hard data (such as comp sales, traffic, and conversion) to quantify what’s realistic, you don’t have to rely on quickly generated hypothesi. Once we pull data, we can work out the “what ifs” and see what the impact will be in difference scenarios—tweaking sales mix, gross margin, promotional impact, traffic rates, conversion rates, and so on, and then analyzing how changes can impact the results over a given time.
Reliable, Accurate Data
My team relies on reporting features extensively to help me get the numbers I need to present to the leadership team. Scott Strapac, Senior Finance manager, uses sales reporting from the POS for daily, weekly, and monthly reporting—he claims it’s actually pretty easy, the numbers are accurate, and he doesn’t have to reconcile due to system mistakes. He gives me the numbers I need to report up the chain—helping us all be successful.
Bryan Beymer, our inventory controller, agrees. He supports the merchandising team, providing detail on inventory and gross margin that I report to and discuss with the leadership team. They both know that analytics are key. “Having the ability to report on attach rates by product is very valuable to the business and gives us the opportunity to identify then focus on the most profitable, margin increasing products we should present in our sales motion.” This allows our stores to focus on sales motions and training to improve our financial results.
Micro-evaluation and In-depth Analysis
Unlike retail software built to solve the problems of the past, Microsoft Microsoft Dynamics for Retail is a modern, unified technology offering that reduces complexity for retailers like us. It helps us to focus on what matters most – connecting to customers, empowering their people, and delivering on the brand promise through excellence in execution. Right now, we’re in an expansion mode. So, we can look at data from all different angles to determine next steps. For instance, we can look at store data points per region that can make us smarter about how we expand next. For instance, maybe one store location didn’t generate as much in sales as another store in the same region. We can drill into the data to discover answers around how to improve top line by learning how the better performing store converted the sales, it’s sales mix, gross margin experience, and more. That’s the sort of example that becomes important for us to analyze and make well informed decisions and give direction to the business.
We can evaluate to the micro-level, to look at how particular SKUs are performing in certain stores…or compare using a “store overlay” to find out how different types of mall settings affect these numbers and determine why that may be.
In retail, CFOs know that it’s really all about speed—and the ability to flex, grow, or evolve business without constraint. Thanks to today’s technology, we can drive our retail vision across channels quickly in response to market changes or other events. It’s what we call being a Dynamic Retailer, and it’s what lets us take advantage of new opportunities more quickly.
Post originally written for Forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/sites/microsoftdynamics/2013/05/06/retail-by-the-numbers/