Your Guide to Software Selection

Retail Analytics Software Tools: Which Are The Best for Retail Businesses in 2019?

The retail buyer’s experience doesn’t look like it did 10 years ago. In fact, it hardly looks the same from the year before. This is partly due to constant buyer demand and ever-changing buying trends. As a result, businesses could no longer use intuition to predict sales outcomes and instead have come to rely on retail analytics software tools to reduce the risk of human error. The right business analytics tools for retail businesses can be a game changer.

Anticipating and predicting outcomes becomes a less Herculean task, and you’ll be able to take action on your insights by executing and developing a detailed action plan. Combine data sources, perform code-free analysis and more with the latest retail tools for business analytics. But when you’re picking out your software tools, you should keep a few of these suggestions in mind.

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Retail Analytics: How Will They Help My Business Grow?

Let’s say you attempted a recent campaign that delivered moderate results. Response from customers wasn’t quite what you were hoping for and you’re unsure why. Your data is too messy for you to go through in your head, and your visibility on patterns is next to none.

How can you manage your next campaign to avoid this same outcome? With a good analytics tool for retail, you can quickly look at your historical data and gain a better understanding of what your customers are really after. You can make better fact-based decisions using analytics, and retailers can improve important business ventures. Say, for example, you notice that a lot of your buyers aren’t converting during the checkout phase. With analytics tools, you can see what percentage of them are abandoning their shopping, where they are in the buyer’s journey and why they’re giving up on converting.

Your services, advertising and customer value can be maximized, which means you can spend more time focusing on your growth.

Okay, but How Will I Know Which Retail Analytics Tool Is Right for Me?

First, identify how big your company currently is. Then you’ll want to ask yourself a series of questions to get a better idea of what kind of system you need:

  • What current programs does your retail analytic software need to integrate with?
  • What are the customizations like?
  • Will a certain software tool provide scalability?
  • Will my ideal software be modular?
  • Will it be accessible to all levels of employees or just some?

You might already have a set of programs in place for your retail business, like inventory tracking software or timesheet software. In order to take advantage of your pre-existing software’s metrics and analytics, think about how a suite of software can integrate with your current platform.

Because no two business’s needs are exactly the same, ask questions about potential customizations that might be available to you in order to adapt software to your specific needs. Scalability might play a factor in this, as customization can account for your business’s growth in specific areas. It could even prevent you from having to eventually buy a new piece of software to fill in the gaps left when you outgrow your old software.

On the other hand, customization can make upgrading very difficult. If you have customized analytics software, any update from the retailer might break your current system or delay new feature implementations. While customizing can be useful to achieve a goal that isn’t explicitly defined by your software, it also has a few pitfalls. Carefully consider whether or not you’re willing to branch off from the manufacturer’s vision. If you find yourself doing too much tweaking, it might be time to start looking at different analytic software.

If you find yourself with needs that don’t seem connected to one another, i.e. you need advanced reporting and publishing mechanisms but you don’t need high-level R integrations, consider opting for modular software.

Software modularity is important, and it’s not just because it might be a cheaper option. Modular software has the potential to provide all of the business analytics features you need and none of the ones you don’t need. It functions by providing users access to software “modules” that can be installed at-will on to the primary product. Furthermore, modular software provides you with the ability to customize your software as needed and to shuck things that don’t serve your particular business goals.

Finally, ask yourself who will be accessing your retail analytics tools and reports. The level of skill required to successfully navigate an interface or a data report could heavily affect the overall amount of use you get out of your retail analytics software.

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Top Picks for Retail Analytics Software Tools

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can make a decision about which tool you’ll need. There are countless vendors providing services to organize your data and trend awareness. However, our Business Analytics Tools Leaderboard will prove why they should be your top choice for your retail business:

BOARD

BOARD is a business intelligence system which offers the tools of BI, enterprise performance management and business analytics in one platform. This product serves mid-sized to large companies in various industry segments.

BOARD’s self-service data-discovery environment expands your toolset considerably. By utilizing these data discovery tools, finding information and performing high-level analysis on intel is a breeze.

This software brings with it the capability to create an interactive and customizable dashboard, featuring drill-down and drill-through capabilities. Go from your KPIs to the smallest level of detail. BOARD’s robust platform provides companies with a single, competent overview of important business information, giving you full ownership across the spectrum of your business’ performance. Go from high-level strategy down to low-level operations and executions.

BOARD offers a unified, all-in-one platform, bringing together core features of BI, and enterprise performance management, as well as offering a powerful business analytics and data discovery suite. BOARD’s visualization tools, dashboards and scorecards can provide real-time data to direct your business focus. The software also comes equipped with predictive modeling tools like reporting, budgeting, forecasting, machine learning interfaces and more. There are even simulation and statistical analysis models built in, on top of additional enterprise features.

A dashboard showing various retail analytics charts and graphs

A Board analytics panel can sow a myriad of retail business analytics data to help inform your decisions

BOARD’s programming-free approach can help onboard new users quickly. They provide a set of built-in tools, empowering users to generate and update databases and more, all in a hands-on graphical user interface. Users can build “BOARD capsules” — containers that hold and display graphs, maps, reports gauges and menus. Capsules also give users the chance to store items in folders, sort by filters and navigate through custom menus.

Looking for flexibility? BOARD provides both on-premises and cloud-based deployment frameworks. Put your analytics in the cloud with BOARD Cloud, built on Microsoft’s Azure. This off-site solution is the same powerful BOARD software, just served in a SaaS model.

Reviews: 95/100
Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Tableau

Tableau is a business intelligence and data visualization tool with an intuitive user interface and a visual query language that enables non-technical users to conduct analysis without writing code. The visual query language, known as VizQL, translates drag-and-drop actions into data queries and then expresses that data visually. Users are empowered to share their custom, fully interactive dashboards, which run the gamut as far as technical ability goes. These dashboards can display trends and variations in data in the form of graphs and charts.

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Tableau allows users to blend various relational, semi-structured and raw data sources in real time. Tableau’s exponential smoothing, an automated forecasting feature, automatically selects from among eight different time-series forecasting models, picking the appropriate hyperparameters automatically. Tableau supports embedding of R and Python code and has a third-party integration with advanced analytics company called MathWorks to support sophisticated predictive analytics.

Core features offered within this software include toggle view and a drag-and-drop interface, a list of native data connectors, highlight and filter data functions, data notifications, Tableau Reader for data viewing, and dashboard commenting. It also features the creation of “no-code” data queries, translates queries to visualizations, import all ranges and sizes of data, create interactive dashboards, string insights into a guided story, handles metadata management, automates updates, offers security permissions at any level, and has Tableau Public for data sharing and server REST API.

Reviews: 91/100
Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Web Focus

Information Builders’ WebFOCUS is a business intelligence (BI) and analytics solution that offers retail analytical tools, applications, reports and visualizations to guide real-time decision making and discover hidden trends. WebFOCUS’s auto-linking automatically detects related data among dashboards, reports and other WebFOCUS platforms. It assists non-technical users in finding data and analytics related to the information one is looking for without having to redo reports. The “Insight” mode enables instant visual discovery from a standard chart.

WebFOCUS offers various data science functions. Integration with R and Python network systems can give you a statistical edge in the analytics game, and the included modeling and statistical functions help you visualize and interpret your data quickly.

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WebFOCUS’s “What-If Assist” tool provides a bevy of functions. “What-If Assist” brings comparison and operating reports for break-even analysis, giving you the tools to see what will make your business successful. Competitive analysis, budgeting and forecasting tools provided by the “What-If” can keep your business on top of the competition.

It provides sentiment and word analytics, social media adapters, and Google Analytics adapter for digital marketing and social media data analysis. WebFOCUS supports big data with adapters for Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, MariaDB, EXASol, IBM JDBC, Apache Phoenix and MapR/Apache Drill, enabling data access to big data. This gives users the ability to utilize Hadoop directly as an analytical source.

In turn, this removes the need to take big data out of the repository. Adapters for Greenplum, ParAccel, 1010data and Vertica allows generating queries and reports off large data sources. It integrates with third-party geographic information systems (GIS) like Esri to support location analytics and interactive mapping.

Reviews: 98/100
Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

Thought Spot

ThoughtSpot is an AI-driven analytics platform with a relational search engine that instantly presents the search results as best-fit visualizations of the data without needing much help from IT. ThoughtSpot offers dynamic dashboards as “pinboards”. It allows drill up, down, and across a data model without needing to pre-define drill paths or hierarchy. It supports integration with the statistical language R to offer advanced analytics. It also offers configurable alerts and scheduled report notifications.

ThoughtSpot achieves fault tolerance by its built-in data replication, redundancy, automatic node failover and automatic backups. Its distributed architecture optimizes workload distribution across a multi-node cluster and is designed to scale infinitely. It provides an administration console to monitor performance and system utilization.

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ThoughSpot’s Relational Search Engine allows the use of search to instantly build 100 percent accurate charts and dashboards out of the relational data. It features automatic search index that indexes the data and schema on cache for a fast and easy end-user search. Based on the data, metadata and usage behavior, it provides guided suggestions in real-time as one types the search terms. It features DataRank, a machine learning ranking algorithm that leverages collective intelligence from prior usage, security rules and characteristics of the data and metadata. Search Inspector explains how search queries, drill downs and applied computations were transformed into an executable SQL and generated insights.

Reviews: 100/100
Price: $$$$$
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

TIBCO Spotfire X

TIBCO Spotfire X is an enterprise-grade analytical platform that blends augmented, agile, automated and real-time analytics to get quick insights from the data. TIBCO Spotfire X can connect, blend, clean and wrangle data from any source including big data stores. It supports interaction with data through natural language query search. Its dimension-free data exploration enables to visualize data interactively without dimensions or constraints. Data can be filtered and drilled down to micro-level details for root cause analysis of trends and problems. TIBCO Spotfire’s data on demand capability enables users to mash up or swap massive data sets interactively.

Tibco Spotfire offers a mobile companion to its analytics suite.

TIBCO Spotfire X has an AI engine that identifies relationships in data and recommends visualizations for quick insights. Users can discover trends, outliers and patterns in any data without knowing its structure. Core features offered within this software include data visualization, data wrangling, big data analytics, content analytics, predictive analytics, location analytics, event analytics, data discovery and collaboration

Reviews: 90/100
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
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Company Size Suitability: S M L

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Wow, That Was a Lot of Information. Now What?

The decision-making process can be challenging when it comes to picking a retail analytics software tool. Remember to think of what your business needs. Some BA tools may not offer enough flexibility or versatility for what you’re looking for. While there are countless programs out there for retailers, these top tools are capable of pushing your company from ordinary growth to extraordinary. What features matter most to your business when it comes to analytics tools for your retail business?

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Jason KellerRetail Analytics Software Tools: Which Are The Best for Retail Businesses in 2019?

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