Modern consumers have more options than ever. For retailers that means they must be able to adapt to stay competitive and earn their business. To do so, retailers need access to robust data on everything from store foot traffic to product returns. But collecting and organizing that data into a usable format presents challenges for retailers of all sizes. In the fast-paced world of retail, businesses that rely on manual or outdated systems often find themselves hamstrung by outdated information. By the time data is collected and organized, it’s too old to provide any meaningful insights for improving current operations.

To overcome this challenge, many retailers are looking to expand their use of technology. In fact, 68% of retail IT decision-makers surveyed by Coresight Research in 2022 said they plan to increase their technology investments over the next three years. One way retailers can leverage technology for competitive advantage is through retail performance dashboards, which give them access to real-time data and insights in easy-to-understand formats, empowering them to optimize operations and increase profitability. This article explains how retailers can use dashboards to transform operations, track business performance, enhance customer satisfaction and more.

What Is a Retail Dashboard?

A retail dashboard is a tool that collects data from across a business and compiles the information into easy-to-understand visual formats, such as graphs and tables. Many dashboards also include analytics and suggested strategies alongside this data to give retailers insights into where to make improvements. Dashboards are often used first to identify broad, high-level information to inform big-picture strategies. Then stakeholders can drill down for a more detailed view of operations to see real-time data on specific key performance indicators (KPIs) and relevant metrics, such as online sales and on-hand inventory. With dashboards, retail businesses can create a more holistic and streamlined operation and gain an edge over competitors that still rely on manual spreadsheets and slow communication between stores.

Key Takeaways

  • Retail performance dashboards collect and track complex data and organize it into simple, easy-to-understand formats.
  • Decision-makers can use this information to identify trends, find places for improvements and track changes in their retail operations.
  • Understanding different dashboard types and their features can help ensure business leaders choose the right ones to address their specific needs.

Retail Dashboards Explained

Retail performance dashboards create a centralized and user-friendly interface to provide a real- or near real-time look at on-the-ground metrics to help businesses track how effectively they are meeting their goals and satisfying their customers’ needs. While most dashboards feature similar high-level overviews, such as revenue and monthly sales, dashboards are typically customizable, letting decision-makers focus on the most useful and relevant metrics for their business. For example, a business with a higher emphasis placed on ecommerce may need a dashboard centered around its online store, highlighting metrics such as cart abandonment, order fulfillment rates and web traffic. On the other hand, a brick-and-mortar retailer may want its dashboard to focus on in-person metrics, such as sales employee performance, foot traffic and peak hours. It’s important for businesses to find a retail dashboard capable of providing the data they need to improve their operations, rather than waste time sifting through irrelevant reports or unhelpful analyses.

Modern dashboards are often cloud-based and optimized for mobile devices, giving managers and decision-makers access to data from multiple retail locations anywhere at any time. This increases visibility and helps optimize companywide strategies, such as inventory management and regionally specific demand planning from a centralized information source. Accessibility to data also helps provide users with all the information they need to quickly answer questions, generate ad-hoc reports and solve problems early, before they become major headaches and impact customer satisfaction.

What to Include in a Retail Dashboard

Because of the customizability of many retail dashboards, there’s no one-size-fits-all list of what must be included in an effective dashboard. Businesses should focus on what data they can use to improve their operations in the following three categories:

  • Market forces and trends: Retail dashboards can help businesses manage their supply chains to track supplier performance and ensure that any slowdowns or market disruptions are caught early and contingency plans are enacted accordingly. During stable periods, dashboards can help managers find inefficiencies and optimize supply processes to ensure that demand is met and waste is minimized. Dashboards can also help forecasters quickly identify new market trends and set benchmarks by showing up-to-date sales data alongside other market indicators, giving decision-makers the tools they need to quickly pivot strategies and adapt to new customer demands.
  • Business performance: One of the biggest benefits offered by retail dashboards is having a centralized place to see far-reaching company data to track performance over time. KPIs, including profit margins, inventory turnover and sales — segmented by retail location, product, employee, department, price point, etc. — can all be displayed in accessible formats for maximum understanding and insight. These figures help decision-makers find out exactly where performance is exceeding or meeting expectations and can help inform strategies to improve or replace areas that are falling behind. Dashboards can juxtapose current levels with historical trends to give context to the current state of operations and ensure that financial management is informed by data and evidence, not hunches.
  • Customer satisfaction: Dashboards collect and organize customer data by aggregating customer feedback so managers can see where expectations are and aren’t being met and intervention may be needed. Dashboards can also help sort buying patterns and customer behavior by demographics, giving marketing teams valuable information when crafting targeted ad campaigns. After sales are made, dashboards can track order status, monitor order fulfillment KPIs and compare performance with benchmarks and industry standards to help improve customer loyalty and retention. Similarly, dashboards can collect and analyze data on customer returns — a potentially costly area for retailers, as returned inventory may not be in a condition to be resold, and extra shipping costs can reduce margins and hurt the bottom line, especially for ecommerce businesses.

Features of an Effective Retail Performance Dashboard

Retail performance dashboards provide specific information relevant to businesses and can be customized by users. To maximize the effectiveness of a dashboard, users must understand its capabilities and features and how it can be leveraged to help achieve objectives. Below are some key features to consider.

User-Friendly Interface

Decision-makers may have access to robust data from every nook and cranny of their company, but without an effective way to organize and study that data, they’ll spend more time searching for what they need than applying what they learn. The user-friendly interface of a retail dashboard reduces the learning curve to allow users to quickly spot important takeaways and trends, even without expertise in data analytics.

An ecommerce store owner, for example, can log in to their dashboard each morning and quickly access an overview of their business through metrics such as web traffic, returns and sales. Dashboard interfaces are also optimized for a variety of devices, letting users access the information they need in consistent, familiar visual formats from wherever they may be. Easy-to-understand data representations, such as tables and graphs, minimize misinterpretations and incorrect conclusions to ensure that managers and business leaders are making well-informed decisions using the most relevant and current data available.

Customizable Metrics and Visualizations

Retail performance dashboards give users the ability to dive deep into datasets and focus on the information and KPIs they need for ongoing budget analysis, ad-hoc reporting and more. This helps decision-makers tailor their dashboard layouts to focus on the objectives at hand and easily adapt to any changes in priorities. Customizability creates more flexible data analysis by streamlining how data is presented. By sharing data in simple formats, such as bar graphs or pie charts, retail dashboards empower teams to collaborate more effectively using a single data source and simplifying comparative assessments. This can lead to more unified financial strategies, rather than relying on siloed operations.

For example, if a manager wants to see sales figures over the last quarter, they can use a dashboard to generate graphs that show sales by category, product, store, salesperson and other relevant metrics, rather than spend hours comparing spreadsheets and tables. Once generated, these graphs can be easily shared with stakeholders and other retail locations to report performance and find areas for improvement.

Real-Time Data Update

Manual or antiquated data-collection processes may provide detailed information, but by the time the data is collected and organized into statements, decision-makers may be left trying to solve today’s problems based on last month’s data. With retail performance dashboards, managers and stakeholders can get a real-time look at business performance through up-to-date metrics like inventory levels, sales performance, marketing campaigns and more. Real-time data also enables businesses to quickly pivot when demand shifts, market forces change or the supply chain is disrupted, giving them an advantage over slower competitors.

Additionally, retail dashboards can provide customer service teams with real-time order updates so they can quickly and effectively address customer feedback, inquiries and issues, creating a more reliable and transparent customer experience. With access to real-time data, businesses can focus on future successes, rather than running damage control for issues that could have been solved with earlier detection.

Mobile Accessibility

With the rise of hybrid and remote work, mobile accessibility is an increasingly important feature for business platforms. Even for fully in-person workers, mobile accessibility allows authorized users to securely access relevant information when away from their desks, allowing decision-makers to respond to requests and problems quickly, no matter where they are. Accessibility also benefits on-location staff at all organizational levels, as it allows access to an easily updated centralized data source to empower teams to effectively optimize warehouse layouts, retail inventory levels, order fulfillment processes and other logistics operations. With customizable alerts and templates formatted for any device, mobile access to a retail dashboard can streamline processes in a secure, convenient manner and give a business the tools it needs to increase transparency and solve problems.

Integration With Various Data Sources

A retail performance dashboard is only as useful as the data it has access to. Even the most sophisticated dashboard can’t provide detailed statements or insights if it’s connected to an incomplete view of the business. By integrating far-reaching data from sales, inventory, marketing, accounts payable and receivable, customer feedback and more, retail dashboards create a comprehensive look at a company’s operations and performance. This holistic view lets analysts identify correlations and patterns to find root causes of problems, rather than only addressing symptoms. Integration also allows users with diverse needs to use a single, centralized system capable of zooming into relevant areas and highlighting requested information from anywhere in the company. Additionally, this integration eliminates much of the repeat manual data entry that can slow down workflows and lead to errors.

Types of Retail Performance Dashboards

Due to their customizability, retail performance dashboards come in different forms depending on business needs. Businesses must make sure to pick the right type of retail dashboard or risk investing in a platform that won’t be able to give them the focused information they need. A company selling unique, high-end boutique items, for example, may not benefit from a retail store dashboard that emphasizes returns and web browsing; instead, it might be better off choosing a dashboard capable of tracking marketing return on investment (ROI) and average sale value per customer. Here are some popular types of retail performance dashboards.

Retail Store Dashboard

For retailers with multiple locations, dashboards can segment sales data by store, product, customer demographics, region and other categories relevant to the business’s industry. This helps inform marketing strategies, new product launches, changes to storefront locations and hours, management improvements and more. Retail store dashboards can also track stock levels and show out-of-stock rates over time, a critical measure for improving inventory allocation, reducing stockouts and optimizing carrying capacity. For example, a clothing retailer can use a store dashboard to track sales by region and see which items are most popular and where they are selling.

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Retail store dashboards can provide store-specific information, such as salesperson performance, regional performance, customer accounts and item popularity.

Retail Analytics Dashboard

Tracking analytics is important for any retailer but especially so for omnichannel companies with in-person and online stores, as these businesses need multifaceted strategies to succeed in both fields. According to a 2022 ChaseDesign survey of consumers, 95% of shoppers use retailer apps while shopping. As such, businesses need to ensure that they’re effectively leveraging these apps by tracking how they drive sales and compare with in-person shopping. With a retail analytics dashboard, retailers can track and compare online and in-store metrics, including return rates, ROI, revenue per location and more. If an electronics business tracks its return rates through a dashboard, for example, and finds that online return rates are much higher than in-store, the business can invest in more reliable order fulfillment processes, better shipment packaging or more detailed online specifications to improve its online operations.

Retail KPI Dashboard

Retailers can customize dashboards to track specific KPIs to ensure that they have visibility for the metrics that matter the most to their business. Some common KPIs include profit margins, sales metrics, inventory turnover, return rates and customer satisfaction. Most dashboards will include graphs that show data over time and percent change when displaying KPIs, as shown below, because a standalone value may be less useful than data in context to establish trends and identify outliers.

For instance, a florist may track monthly sales data through its dashboard to plan its growing cycles. But if there is a large wedding event in a given month with a much larger sale than typical, it could skew KPIs like average purchase value, which measures the average sales value of a transaction at a store. By viewing that month in context, the florist can see that it was an outlier and not a sign that it should be significantly ramping up production — which could lead to wasted stock when the flowers aren’t sold during the blooming season. But if the florist sees its average purchase value steadily rising from quarter to quarter, it can increase on-site inventory accordingly. By studying these KPIs over time, businesses can reduce waste and identify trends or complications early.

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Retail KPI dashboards can be customized to show the most relevant KPIs for users and to automatically flag KPIs that need attention.

Sales and Order Dashboard

While sales will likely be a major part of any dashboard, some retail dashboards spotlight order tracking and analysis as a key part of their functionality. Sales and order dashboards can track metrics, such as lead times and perfect order rates, to ensure that deliveries are made quickly and correctly, minimizing costly returns and dissatisfied customers. These order metrics can help businesses track customer retention and loyalty, a valuable measure for retail companies, as returning customers are often easier and cheaper to target and convince to place an order — assuming their orders were properly fulfilled in the first place, and they had a satisfactory shopping experience.

Some sales and order metrics are complex and require supplemental data to fully understand, making the customizability and detail of a retail dashboard essential. Back-order rates, for example, can point to inefficient inventory allocation or unexpectedly high sales, and dashboards can help analysts make sense of these kinds of metrics to recreate successes and avoid repeating failures. After sales are made, retail dashboards can make sure they are effectively turned into revenue by integrating with accounts receivable and creating a unified system of payments and orders.

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Sales and order dashboards track leads, contacts, prospects, customers, representative performance, sales trends and more, both with real-time data and side-by-side comparison with previous periods.

Product Availability Dashboard

Having access to accurate, up-to-date product availability is a major challenge for many retailers. When a customer visits a store or website to purchase a specific item, it can be frustrating when that item is unavailable, and they may choose to take their business elsewhere, especially if there’s no estimate on when the product will be back in stock. Retail dashboards can provide granular data on inventory, from general categories down to specific items and store-specific information. This helps managers and customers know what’s available in which stores before shelves — and shopping carts — are left empty from stockouts and back orders.

For example, a retail performance dashboard may be able to show a clothing retailer the percentage of out-of-stock items per store over a year, helping establish seasonal trends to better maintain stock levels in the future. By using data to minimize out-of-stock items, stores will be better prepared to meet customer demand, maintain customer loyalty and capitalize on any seasonal demand surges.

Promotional Optimization Dashboard

It can be difficult to track a marketing strategy’s effectiveness, especially for multipronged marketing campaigns that combine mailers, digital ads and other media. With a promotional optimization dashboard, retailers can track the success of their marketing promotions in real time through metrics like ROI and sales engagement. These insights can be used to inform future ad campaigns and help retailers better meet their marketing objectives. A furniture store, for instance, can track digital advertising through its dashboard to see customer engagement in different markets, click-through rates and final sales to better understand its customer base and create more targeted ad campaigns that increase the ROI for the marketing budget.

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Retail Inventory Management Dashboard

Managing inventory can be a challenge, especially for companies that rely on supply chains vulnerable to disruptions and slowdowns. Retail inventory management dashboards monitor supply shipments and automatically send alerts when inventory or supplies fall below preset levels to reduce the risk of stockouts. Retail inventory metrics can also help optimize ongoing inventory management by integrating with demand forecasting tools to effectively plan merchandise and prepare for future sales. For example, a department store can use this data to find older items with low turnover rates and replace them with next season’s expected high-demand items, reducing carrying costs and cluttered shelves while preparing for future sales.

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Inventory management dashboards track inventory over time through metrics, including sales, returns and stock levels.

Average Product Discount Dashboard

Discounts are a common way to lure customers and move old stock, but businesses need to carefully track their impact on revenue and sales to find the right pricing strategy. Too many discounts may drive sales but could hurt the bottom line, and too few discounts may turn away frugal shoppers that could be turned into lifelong customers. Discount dashboards can track discounts’ impact on revenue and sales with detailed data from before, during and after promotional periods. By monitoring these metrics alongside customer feedback, businesses can optimize when and how discounts are offered to strike the right balance.

If a bookstore, for example, offers a “buy two, get one free” sale every summer, it can monitor revenue relative to sales during this period and compare it to non-sale seasons. If the profit margins on the increased sales do not make up for the losses from giving away free books, the bookstore can run scenarios to find a better balance when offering discounts, such as 20% off orders instead of free books. A different sale may still bring in more customers in search of a good deal without having the same negative impact on the bottom line.

Choosing the Right Retail Performance Dashboard Software

No two retailers are the same, and a retail performance dashboard should be adapted to fit what makes a business unique. Before choosing retail dashboard software, a business should set deliberate goals and priorities that the dashboard can help achieve. Then it can actively seek out software that fits those goals. If a dashboard is being added to an existing business platform, such as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, the retailer should find out what, if anything, needs to be done to ensure effective integration so that no critical data is lost in translation.

Retailers should also ensure that any industry compliance standards, such as safety, security and financial reporting standards, are supported by their dashboard of choice, as failure to comply with regulations could lead to financial, legal and reputational harm to the business. The right retail dashboard should enhance a retailer’s ability to serve its customers’ needs in ways that align with business objectives, while also giving stakeholders and managers the opportunity to more effectively grow and improve the company.

All Your Retail Performance Dashboards in One Place With NetSuite

In the increasingly competitive retail market, both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce retailers need to understand the ins and outs of their businesses to gain and maintain their edge. NetSuite for Retail gives retailers real-time access to financial data, sales figures, inventory levels, customer analytics and more to monitor business performance and drive growth. NetSuite’s platform is built specifically for retail and helps business leaders create a customizable and unified omnichannel commerce operation, so customers can easily get what they need, regardless of how or where they shop.

Integrating a retail performance dashboard with NetSuite Data Warehouse consolidates data from throughout an organization and hosts it in the cloud, giving stakeholders and decision-makers access to everything they need from anywhere and at any time. With customizable templates and an easy-to-use interface, NetSuite Data Warehouse lets retailers access broad big-picture data on business health and drill down to specific reports that give them the exact data they’re looking for — no IT expertise needed. NetSuite’s Data Warehouse can also generate charts and tables and export data from a centralized source to increase collaboration and reduce miscommunications. With NetSuite, retailers can better serve their customers and confidently grow their operations.

Retail performance dashboards increase visibility into the inner workings of a business and give decision-makers access to relevant information to make well-informed, data-driven improvements to their retail operations. Retailers can use these customizable and user-friendly dashboards to monitor essential retail KPIs, such as sales data, customer buying behavior, store performance and inventory levels, to understand what’s going right and what needs adjustments. Retail dashboards empower retailers to prioritize processes that will directly benefit their customers and drive long-term revenue and growth.

Retail Dashboard FAQs

How does a business build a retail dashboard?

When implementing a retail dashboard, a business must first define its goals, such as what data it wants to collect, how it should be organized and who should have access to what fields. Once these goals are set, many retailers choose existing software that fits their needs and that can be integrated with their existing systems.

What should a sales dashboard have?

A sales dashboard typically includes overall sales data and subsets segmented by retail location, online sales, products, changes in sales over time and other relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) that the business wants to track. These can be studied as current performance snapshots or trends over time to give managers and decision-makers insights into overall business strengths and to find areas for improvement.

What is a sales analytics dashboard?

A sales analytics dashboard provides detailed information on sales trends and often includes customer satisfaction and buying behavior to inform future marketing and inventory strategies. It typically incorporates pricing data, such as sales volume at different price points, and post-sales data, such as returns and customer service activity. These analytics can be used to create more effective customer service initiatives and optimize margins.

What does a sales performance dashboard do?

A sales performance dashboard provides real-time data on key sales metrics to monitor the performance of sales teams, track sales growth and forecast future demand. The dashboard compares actual sales with targets, often segmented by regional sales figures and customer demographics. Sales performance dashboards allow users to explore detailed data, identify trends and make more-informed decisions with the goal of improved sales, higher customer satisfaction and overall business growth, as well as give managers a detailed look at employee performance.