Retail Business Analytics Dashboard: What and How

ssrs_dashboard-300x240 Retail Business Analytics Dashboard: What and How

Real-time data summarized and graphically displayed on a single page.

Retail giants in Canada such as Canadian Tire and Nygard International are rapidly moving towards Business Analytics. The market hype around retail analytics has been building since early 2007 when predictions of the sustainability of business analytics as a vehicle of retail growth initially gained momentum.

The retail business analytics dashboard is the last important step in the analytics initiative of any organization. In this blog post, with the help of examples from the retail industry, we will be able to answer the following questions: What exactly is on a dashboard? What should it summarize? And where should it lead to?

What is a dashboard?

Any user in the organization wants to be provided a summary view of their data. Dashboards should employ a common approach and be somewhat standard for each role and responsibility across the enterprise, while accommodating individual preferences. A personalized dashboard captures what is most important to the individual user.

Knowing what is happening in your business right now is the first step to making smart decisions. Giving that insight to people across your entire organization ensures that they prioritize goals and activities based on actual performance.

A dashboard defines the language and measures by which department owners will evaluate their performance and the performance of the business. A dashboard sets the context of what individual managers should know about the organization and what problems and opportunities will require their attention. Dashboards also provide quality information to the user, far beyond the scope of individual responsibilities.

Looking at our example industry (Retail), we have seen that it is moving very fast, especially in countries like Canada. Due to the industry’s competitive dynamics, the business environment is too challenging to tolerate business analytics myopia. Well-designed dashboards insist on delivering a big picture view of the business. The big picture view provided by dashboards to particular functional areas of the business, utilizing tightly limited information, prevents BI myopia.

Without the aid of dashboards, a marketing manager might be able to track data pertinent to their distribution center, group of stores, or merchandise group but they will miss the overall trend. Therefore, Business Analytics must broaden the user’s span of understanding while empowering them to drive deeper into their own responsibilities.

What to Manage?CPCS-Backbone-of-retail-management-300x255 Retail Business Analytics Dashboard: What and How

Four primary things that all retail managers should play a role in managing: CPCS – Customer, Product, Channel and Supplier (fig 1)

Understanding what responsibilities each management role has in each of these subject areas is the key to developing good dashboards. Everyone will have access to CPCS details, but one of these perspectives will be dictated according to the manager’s role. Retail dashboards should default to the primary perspective of the business while affording users (managers) the opportunity to switch easily to one of the other three.

For example, store managers would typically view data relating to the stores for which they are responsible. The product specialist’s dashboard would typically summarize the view of their products. Buyers would typically select the supplier view, allowing them to drill down into more detailed information by products, channels, and by types of customers.

Of course, as managers begin to weave their dashboards into everyday retail activities, their needs will change. To accommodate change, you need to have technology that will grow organically with your users’ needs.

How to Manage?

The best dashboards have their frame divided into five sections: Operating Summary, Scorecard, Trends, Best and Worst Performers, Opportunities and Challenges (fig 2). This will help retail managers to get better insights and eventually assist in better decision making. Questions like “What’s going on?”, “Where do we stand?”, ”Where we are headed?”, “Where should we be working more?” are interactively answered with the help of dashboards.

Important-components-of-dashboard-300x237 Retail Business Analytics Dashboard: What and How

Important components of Retail Business Analytics Dashboard


OptimusBI will help you choose the right self-serve business analytics application to deliver and manage your dashboards. We will make it easy to roll them out and continually evolve them with your business. This ensures information stays relevant as the business changes, and that more users can use dashboards in everyday decision-making.

We would be happy to share our experiences with you. To learn more about how to deliver cutting-edge dashboards, contact me directly at

(dashboard image courtesy of Dashboard Insight)

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