Data is essential in retail. Without it, retailers can’t reprice effectively or even understand how they stack up against competitors. But not all data is created equally. Some provide more general information on the overall market, while other datasets are customized based on your specific needs.
This topic arose from a number of conversations our team has had over the years. In particular, the question that comes up often when we talk to retail leaders is “what is the difference between syndicated data and Wiser data?”
In this blog post, we are going to unpack that question to bring to light the differences and areas of overlap so that you can choose the dataset and data provider that best fits your needs. Let’s dive in.
Why Is Data Necessary?
First, we need to set the stage and understand why CPG data, POS data, and other types of data are so important. To say the least, in this industry, comparison is king. A consumer might check several websites to identify the best price, shipping rates, and return policies. So having accurate and timely data upon which to base your pricing is essential. The same is true of in-store metrics: you need to know if a competitor is scooping up all the facings before it starts to impact your own sales. And this is just the external side of the equation.
Internal data is key as well. Knowing your stock level, manufacturing costs, and POS data are just three of the data points that you might need in order to price and display your products appropriately. Combining these two types of data makes it possible to create an effective marketing strategy with a full understanding of what consumers expect and how you can improve your offerings.
Syndicated data explains what is happening but not why it is happening.
What Is Syndicated Data?
Syndicated data is a common tool that retailers have in their back pocket. It is a compilation of market data that spans multiple retailers. Think of it as a catch-all data aggregation tool often sold by market research companies. This data covers sales volume, pricing, promotions, and more delivered directly from numerous types of stores. But combing through all that data can be a time-consuming process.
Many retailers that we’ve heard from use multiple sources of syndicated data. This combination of data sources certainly paints an accurate picture of their competitive landscape, but at a cost. It takes time for data providers to share such broad data, and that makes it less useful for those in fast-moving categories. Next, one or more analysts must sift through this information to glean insights from it. And, after taking the time to compile and present this data, only then can it be put to work in a pricing or merchandising strategy. The multiple steps in the process make it difficult to act on this secondary data in real-time and get the most value out of it.
To underscore the importance of timeliness, let’s use an in-store brand as an example. If a brand has a six-week promotional window, typically weeks one and two are spent distributing and building the displays. Weeks three through six are the selling windows. If that brand relied solely on syndicated data to check on the execution of those promotions, they would know only after the promotional period if there were any issues that may have impacted sales. Time lost equals money lost.
Using Wiser data (including photos and an explanation of what was wrong) instead would illuminate any issues with execution during the campaign. This quick feedback loop would help with execution for the rest of the selling window.
So we’ve explained what syndicated data is, but what about a more customized dataset?
What Is Wiser Data?
Wiser’s retail data can be customized for each client. Instead of it being a mass-produced list of data points that a CPG retailer and their rivals might both be looking at, it is actually a window into the top competitors and locations that matter most for you specifically. This data covers eCommerce marketplaces and brick-and-mortar stores, offering a complete view of the competition and market.
However, you don’t have to choose between syndicated data and Wiser data (although you certainly could). While syndicated data might offer robust merchandising information, companies often utilize this sales intelligence in conjunction with Wiser’s visibility. This helps them alleviate concerns and identify problematic areas related to product availability, planogram compliance, rate of recommendation, share of shelf, and shopper insights.
Due to this, even retail leaders who have bought syndicated data often use Wiser as well to ensure they also have access to time-sensitive data that their market research provider isn’t able to provide.
The brick-and-mortar insights Wiser collects are especially important because they add a layer of information that was difficult to collect previously. For example, a retailer might need insight into how their end caps compare with a competitor. Wiser is able to provide that and photos needed to understand where strategy can be improved in a timely fashion.
This is especially important right now during the COVID-19 pandemic. This virus has disrupted countless industries and syndicated panel data is one of them. Of course, retailers and brands still need access to timely and actionable data because retail will always be an especially important industry to maintain during a time of need.
No matter the time of year, though, organizations need to understand whether they are on pace toward their key performance metrics. And when it comes to display compliance, for example, they need an effective, cost-efficient solution to audit in-store merchandising conditions and collect factual, shelf-level data and images that can help quantify the effectiveness and ROI of displays.
This simply isn’t possible if market research providers are unable to collect this data. In such trying times, not having access to data that can make or break sales simply isn’t acceptable.
You need data that will enable you to understand pricing trends, merchandising compliance, and consumer behavior.
Timing Is Everything
Across channels, retail moves at the speed of light, so data married with the ability to act on it is essential. If a brand sells “indestructible” garbage cans, yet the ones on display are dented and dirty, this needs to be fixed immediately. Being able to tap into objective data makes it possible to surface problems faster and take action when it matters most. This is compared to seeing a sales slump a few weeks later and having to guess why that happened.
The same is true online: whether on a marketplace or on a branded website. A competitor can change pricing or assortment at the click of a button. Being aware of when these changes happen is key to taking appropriate action in time. If a competitor suddenly drops their price for a similar product, you don’t want to be wondering why your sales have slowed considerably. Waiting for syndicated data makes it possible to miss out on real-time alerts that make or break a retail business. You can’t build your strategy with blinders on. You must understand the full picture in order to make the best decisions and maximize sales and profit.
When You Need Syndicated Data or Customized Data
Syndicated data is very helpful for general use cases. Need to understand a new market quickly? It has exactly the data you need. But when it comes to day-to-day price intelligence or in-store visibility, it might not fit the bill. Retailers need to be pointed to third-party data that provides a snapshot into exactly what is going on within a competitive subset that they can act on quickly.
Here is a helpful way to understand the difference between these two data sources: syndicated data provides the “what.” This might mean your rival is beating you in sales volume in the Midwest. This information is important to know, but it is missing a key element to make it actionable.
Wiser data, on the other hand, can provide the “why.” Returning to our example, maybe this competitor is beating you because you are frequently out of stock due to high demand in that particular season. Getting photo evidence of this trend will provide you with the evidence you need to send additional inventory to stores in that region. Fixing this issue quickly will give you fair chance and ensure that your competitor isn’t selected by default.
Actionable data is crucial for a well-rounded retail strategy. You need data that will enable you to understand pricing trends, merchandising compliance, and consumer behavior. And that is only possible if that data is delivered on time, every time. There is no point in pulling in every single piece of data in a retail category if it doesn’t relate to what you’re selling. Instead, get just the marketing and pricing insights that you truly need when you need them.