Episode 24: 2021 Retail CFO Outlook: Digital with Discipline

Announcer: Welcome to this episode of “60-second Retail” - a BDO podcast keeping you in-the-know on events and trends in retail and consumer products industry impacting your bottom line, in just a few short minutes.

Natalie: Hello, my name is Natalie Kotlyar. I am the National Leader of the Retail and Consumer Products industry group at BDO USA. In this episode, we are speaking with Robert Brown, Managing Director & Client Executive, at BDO USA to discuss the digital findings coming out of BDO’s CFO Outlook Survey. This survey collects perspectives of CFO’s on their top challenges, issues, priorities and focus areas for the coming year, and we publish these results on our website.

Welcome Robert.  So in the survey almost a quarter of respondents said investing in technology or infrastructure is a top business priority for them in 2021.  Certainly, that doesn’t come as a surprise to any of us.  Can you provide a few areas for retailers to begin investing in today, from a technology standpoint, to improve business outcomes?

Robert: Thanks Natalie. I think some of the immediate considerations are around cloud services, analytics and dashboard tools. Certainly, getting data around your top line, your costs, your bottom line is important but the data around the nuances of how your business is performing is, I think in many cases, more critical to understand in these times.

What products are selling? You know the mix of those products or the typical 80/20 rule.

What’s your supply chain health? And again, it's about getting the micro-data, to better understand and really adjust to reach your macro-level performance.

This can be leveraged by through quick setup of dashboards and services that report that data by connecting to the different data points in the business, to give you a better pulse of what's happening.

Natalie: So, sticking with that dashboard and the data concept, the survey also surfaced the top KPIs retailers are looking to improve in 2021 and no surprise they are all very data driven. So Sales Per Unique Customer, Average Order Value, Conversion Rate, etc. – how can technology be leveraged to help retailers generate and understand these metrics?

Robert: We mentioned cloud services, analytics and dashboards just now and I think it's a starting point, but you can also take a look at other technologies, more advanced analytic tools such as a product called Power BI as an example.

These allow quick and customized reporting of your specific business model. The way you do business versus the way other industries may be doing their business, which software has to certainly accommodate.

So tools like Excel, they’re great and reliable, they can provide an input and output provided that the input’s done properly… the algorithm is done properly… sort of the formula if you will, that matches your operating model.

But Power BI lets you look at all these different data points, and these are simple connections that can be done, so you can roll up and analyze and really discover new patterns, simply by manipulating the view into the data that looks at things like increase in average order value or profitability of that order value even though top line revenue might have been flat.

So, it gives you sort of a way to look at how particular product, stock on hand, marketing… all these other elements that contribute to your business are effecting your business. So, it lets you drive new initiatives but also, it might uncover data that lets you make decisions to better protect the business and that's key.

Natalie: Absolutely agree, I'm a big dashboard person and certainly having the right KPI's and understanding on business is critical in today's environment. Thank you Robert and we look forward to speaking with you in future episodes.
Announcer: And that concludes this episode of BDO’s “60-second Retail” podcast.  Don’t forget to tune in for the next episode! To find more information on our hosts, guests, BDO’s services, or listen to previous episodes of “60-second Retail”, please visit www.bdo.com/60-second-retail.



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