November 9, 2022
Tony Miller

Syndicated and POS data: Getting the full picture

Learn how CPG brands can use syndicated data in conjunction with POS data to fully understand product performance and make smarter business decisions in real time.

Understanding your CPG product’s performance across your distribution footprint requires access to a wide range of data.  It’s up to CPG teams to identify, obtain, and analyze the data they need to get the full picture, enabling them to make wise and effective decisions.

No one data source alone can do that. Leveraging both syndicated and POS data sources provides CPG teams with the information they need to gain a comprehensive view of their product’s performance.

We created this guide to help you find, analyze, and leverage the best of both worlds to maximize your product’s success. You’ll discover:

  • What each type of data is (and why brands need them)
  • Where to access each data set
  • How to use syndicated and POS data in tandem to improve sales and operations

What is syndicated data?

Syndicated data is aggregated sales and consumer insights collected by market research companies. It compares a product’s performance with the industry at large and at the category, item, and retail level. Syndicated data also helps companies understand the patterns of their target audience.

How to obtain syndicated data

There are three major third-party research companies that offer syndicated data: Nielsen, IRI and SPINS. These companies conduct extensive market research and partner with select retailers to create reports that CPG and retail companies can purchase. 

The data is organized into two categories: retail and panel data.

  • Retail or store data comes from point-of-sale systems at retail stores and eCommerce sites. It includes competitive analyses, pricing and distribution stats, promotions and sales information, and more.
  • Panel data, or household data, is available through the National Consumer Panel (NCP). It’s collected through customer surveys, having consumers agree to let their purchases be tracked through POS scanners, and apps that gamify the process of sending in product receipts. Panel data includes information on demographics, loyalty to specific brands or stores, and finding target market groups.

Here’s how retail data and panel data differ and complete each other:

Retail data helps you measure sales by showing the entirety of your POS data, down to each UPC. Panel data goes beyond the POS system to answer questions of personal consumer habits, aiding CPG brands in knowing what actions to take to grow sales. You can understand brand loyalty, intent, and purchase frequency that you can’t find through POS data alone. The downside of panel data is its reliance on the samples of people surveyed, which may not fully represent all your consumer groups. 

How to use syndicated data

Syndicated data is most helpful for strategizing and thinking about the big picture. You can get ahead of both upward and downward trends in the industry and identify new opportunities for growth.

For example, you might use syndicated data to learn if a specific category is declining across the entire market. Maybe there’s an economic reason for the sudden decline, and you can adjust your strategy to reflect this. You can also find new opportunities for sales by seeing where else similar products are doing well, including international markets. And you can track how your product performs to the category at large – and help determine if you’re helping to grow your category despite the market factors at play.

Pros of syndicated data:

  • Track high-level category trends for product comparison
  • Plan for the long term based on big picture data
  • Gain helpful insights and proof points for buyer conversations

Cons of syndicated data:

With all the benefits of syndicated data, there are a few downsides. These include:

  • Time consuming and costly — Because syndicated data comes from multiple sources, it needs to be consolidated and analyzed to get cross-retailer insights. This process takes several hours to complete, from accessing data to the final presentation. Syndicated data also comes with a sizable cost, which can accumulate as you combine them to cover multiple retailers.
  • Infrequent — Due to the time consuming process of ingestion and the lag to get the data (at least 30 days), most insights are outdated by the time the data is compiled and analyzed. If companies want “fresher” data, this is an additional cost – but even then, it won’t be close to real time.
  • Lack of specificity — Syndicated data, by nature, is a broad database of category, retailer, and item information. This data doesn’t offer information about a specific product or retail location, and doesn’t include inventory data.

There are many benefits to syndicated data, all of which can help your brand succeed. However, if you only use syndicated data you’ll be lacking the granular, timely data needed to fully understand performance. That’s where POS data comes in.

What is POS data?

POS (point-of-sale) data is the information gathered from every transaction placed on a POS system. POS data can include purchases and returns, loyalty information, total sales, payment methods, time of sales, and exact store locations.

How to obtain POS data

Retailers record their own POS data across store locations and DCs, and typically share it with suppliers through a vendor portal or through emailed reports.

Here are the most common types of data CPG brands can retrieve from POS information. 

  • Sales data includes the gross and net sales for a product at each retail location. Use this data to track the performance of each product and make distribution decisions regarding inventory levels, promotional strategy, and more.
  • Product data is the data on cost, sales and profit per product. Use this information to keep an eye on profit margins across your SKUs.
  • Inventory data is information from each store on products sold, returned, or exchanged. The inventory data for that SKU will immediately update to reflect the change. This data helps CPG teams know when to replenish stock, manage inventory issues, and understand trends at specific locations. 

How to use POS data

Brands tend to underutilize vendor portal data because it’s difficult and time-consuming to download the reports and clean the data, let alone compile it across partners. But with Crisp, brands get instant access to clear, usable POS data from all of their retail partners. This data is available through easy-to-use dashboards, or piped into your analytics tool of choice.

Access to timely, usable POS data helps you track key metrics, including:

  • Distribution by region and chain
  • Velocity trends
  • Detailed store lists
  • Shareable reports and charts for brokers and buyers
  • Inventory across distributors and retailers
  • Order retention and re-orders
  • Chargebacks and trade spend
  • Real-time sales tracking and shipping data
  • Possible voids

Pros of POS data

POS data gives brands the ability to get specific information on each UPC and store location as soon as your retailer makes it available, so you can take immediate action when situations occur.

Store-specific information is incredibly valuable, telling you exactly where you need more product and when, or where a specific product is more or less popular, so you can stock accordingly. For instance, if a store is selling more product than usual, teams can check their POS data to understand why this is happening and act accordingly by adjusting promotional campaigns, shipping additional inventory, and updating distribution plans. 

POS data empowers CPG teams to identify specific sales trends and areas for product growth by region and retailer partner. This information is helpful when strategizing location-based promotions, planning distribution expansion, and creating data-backed pitches.

For new CPG brands, POS data provides necessary and powerful insights to make strategic decisions while navigating new retail partnerships, launching products, managing day-to-day operations, and monitoring inventory levels.

Cons of POS data

POS data measures a brand’s products, which doesn’t account for the competition or industry’s performance at large, at least in most cases. This is important for seeing trends in the industry, pinpointing places for improvement, or noting how your products are performing in comparison to the competition.

Another insight POS data lacks is survey and direct-from-consumer data. Customers may be purchasing your product, but do you know how they feel about the product or brand? This qualitative insight can help guide future distribution, branding, and advertising strategies.

Using syndicated and POS data in tandem

It’s easy for CPG teams to over-rely on either syndicated or POS data, but with both, they can effectively strategize for success.

Analyzing both syndicated and POS data allows CPG teams to discover where they may have previously made assumptions about consumer purchasing behavior. Using this newfound information, they can adjust distribution, retail, and promotional strategies accordingly.

What’s more, this data can be combined and analyzed together to unlock new insights that neither data source could do alone. That’s why Crisp integrates with all your major retailer and distributor partners, plus syndicated data sources like Nielsen, to help brands access all the data you need for effective decision-making.

For example, Crisp customer Grandy Organics uses both POS and syndicated data through Crisp to inform their CPG strategy. They track general trends on categories like bulk cereals with SPINS data, then analyze their own sales trends by region and retailer to expand distribution and meet consumer demand.

Ready to discover how Crisp can help your team see the full picture? Book a demo with Crisp today. For more industry insights and best practices, subscribe to the blog.

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Be Data Ready for Anything

Crisp uses the power of the cloud to connect and analyze all of your data sources in real-time, providing you with the most meaningful insights and trends for your business. When you know exactly what’s in store, you can keep shelves stocked and customers happy while skyrocketing profitability.

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