How are my sales and inventory reports kept confidential?
The individual store data from our panel members is immediately merged with the data from all stores on the panel, and the individual store name is deleted during the merge process, so even if someone hacked into our database they couldn’t identify any sales/inventory figures with an individual store. We also offer the ability to upload reports directly to our highly protected server via 128-bit encryption (a level that has never been cracked).
If required and too assure ActionWatch Retail Panel members that we are sincere about our confidentiality efforts, we can also sign a confidentiality agreement with panel members that contractually state the fact that we will never share individual store information with anyone (indeed, we won’t even share information about which retailers are on our panel without express consent).
Who is on the ActionWatch Retail Panel?
The most common question we get asked is ‘who is on the panel?’ and this is where POS tracking software differs from typical population sample analysis like those annoying Survey Monkey’s. To answer the question, we need to remember that ActionWatch panel members participate confidentially and that data is sent 128bit (bank level) encrypted to our FTP servers, and cannot be geo-targeted. Keep in mind we are focused on total sales volumes, and so it’s better to think of ActionWatch this way…
On average we process approximately $5 million is sales across our panel every month, 150,000 ‘sold’ items and 500,000 unsold items (or units held in inventory) to deliver upto 60 reports to participating retailers.
The ActionWatch retail panel includes tier one, first class retailers who on average turn over $800,000 per annum. They are all good ‘fit’ retailers that have invested in their business and understand the power of numbers.
If you have any doubts about the composition of our panel, please feel free to contact us for more information.
Why do I need broad market information when I already know what my customers want?
It’s true that the most important market information for you to consider when making business decisions is what is going on in your local market. But the most successful retailers also want to see what is going on in similar retail stores across the country to:
1) help them identify bigger trends that are hard to identify when looking only at information from one market and
2) give them benchmarking information to compare their store against. The best way to measure a store’s success is to have a measuring tool that is appropriate for that store’s industry.
Also, manufacturers in the industry use this information to help them stock the products retailers’ need when they need them. Ever had a hot-selling item that you needed to reorder but you couldn’t get it because the manufacturer was also out? POS-based reporting programs like ActionWatch help an industry run more efficiently by providing manufacturers with more timely data. These programs allow manufacturers to see their hot-selling items before you reorder, allowing them the necessary time to make the item and have it ready to ship when you need it.
If it’s free to retailers, how does ActionWatch make money?
Like POS-tracking services in other industries, ActionWatch production costs are paid for by industry manufacturers who use the reports to help them make sure they are making and stocking the items that your customers want. They’re already doing this with the major retail chains. ActionWatch helps ensure the unique nature of independent core surf stores and helps distinguish them from the chain and department stores.
Will manufacturers use this information to open competing stores in my area?
ActionWatch reports are made from aggregated data that represent the entire Australian retail landscape whereas retail is a very local craft. Neither manufacturers nor experienced retailers can successfully use national data by itself to determine where they should open their next store or what they should stock in that store.
Will competing retailers in my area benefit from my good decisions?
Not because of ActionWatch! Your best buying decisions are based on your local market and on your own store’s data. ActionWatch reports provide the secondary information that may support certain buying strategies, without outlining any one in particular. Retailer reports are useful for seeing broad market trends, benchmarking and doing price-point comparisons. ActionWatch does not lay out a clear plan for a single retailer’s business.
How much time is required to participate?
If you’re using Osipos, you may only need to do a short one-time setup and then your reports are run and sent automatically each following month. With other POS systems it may take a few minutes each month to run and send the necessary report. Be assured that we do everything we can to make participation as easy as possible. Fully automated reporting requires a broadband Internet connection and POS software with an accessible database such as Osipos.
Do other industries have POS-tracking services?
Yes quite a few in the USA, however in Australia it’s relatively new or operates in niche market segments. Some hospitality industries do, certain petroleum and beverage franchises have POS tracking for ‘member only’ stores. This type of sophisticated market intelligence is normally ‘in house’ or in a franchise or licensee situation. When we contacted the Australian Retailers Association, they couldn’t pin point a truly ‘independent’ POS system in another industry. However, we have not invented a new concept but we’ve delivered its benefits through our association with Osipos to you. In general, large portions of the purchases you and I make every day are tracked through retailers’ POS systems. However, the power to unlock the true value of your POS system lays in the aggregate data that ActionWatch provides.
Are there other companies that have retailer panels and track POS information?
Yes. Nielsen is one of the biggest. You’ve probably heard of the Nielsen ratings for television. However, they also have many POS-tracking services, including one called SoundScan for the music industry SoundScan retail panel members send in sales reports every week in exchange for getting aggregated reports back (just like ActionWatch panel members, except our panel only sends monthly reports). NPD Group and Information Resources Inc are the other two large market information companies in the USA.