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Retail point-of-sale (POS) vs syndicated data for CPGs

Introduction to CPG data

For CPG suppliers, data conveys the true story of product performance and operational efficiency. In order to manage inventory, establish promotional or pricing strategies, understand market and consumer trends, or effectively manage their supply chains, CPGs need data that tracks products right up to the moment of purchase. This can be complex, and the broader the CPG’s distribution footprint, the more that complexity grows.

The good news is that today there are more ways than ever to access sales data from supply chain partners. Here we’ll take a look at two key types of retail data — syndicated data and point-of-sale (POS) data. We’ll outline the value they each provide to a CPG business, and ways to use them together to get a complete picture of product performance, capture opportunities, and address challenges.

What is syndicated data?

Gathered and distributed by third-party market research firms such as Nielsen, SPINS, and Circana, syndicated data provides CPGs with information on sales, market trends, consumer behavior, and other relevant insights related to their market category and industry as a whole.

Syndicated data offers CPG suppliers aggregated data from select retailers, combining sales and consumer insights to compare a product’s performance against industry benchmarks at the category, item, and retail level. 

Syndicated data providers offer multiple types of data for purchase. Store data comes directly from point-of-sale systems at retail stores and checkouts at e-commerce sites and may include competitive analyses, pricing and distribution statistics, promotions, and sales information down to each UPC. Panel or household data is collected from consumers themselves through customer surveys, receipt sharing, and voluntary purchase tracking programs. This data can provide additional insights into consumer demographics and habits, brand and store loyalty, and targeting potential. 

Gathered and distributed by third-party market research firms such as Nielsen, SPINS, and Circana, syndicated data provides CPGs with information on sales, market trends, consumer behavior, and other relevant insights related to their market category and industry as a whole.

The value of syndicated data

For a CPG, syndicated data offers important industry-wide and competitive insights, including trends that signal opportunities for growth or a need for a strategy shift. Syndicated data provides a window into broader patterns that POS data cannot, such as where competitor products are doing well.

For tracking high-level category and market trends, planning for the future, and gaining broad insights for leverage with retail partners, syndicated data is essential. But it doesn’t provide a complete picture of the CPG business.

Limitations of syndicated data

The key drawback of syndicated data is that it is retrospective. Data is often a month old or more by the time it is made available for CPGs. And if the CPG has syndicated data coming from multiple sources, there will be additional delay created by the time-consuming process of consolidation and analysis. 

Syndicated data also lacks granular information CPGs need about specific products, retail locations, and inventory levels.

For the big picture, syndicated data is a powerful planning tool. But for day-to-day decision making and real-time, product- and inventory-specific insights, CPGs need access to more timely and specific data gathered at the point of sale.

For the big picture, syndicated data is a powerful planning tool. But for day-to-day decision making and real-time, product- and inventory-specific insights, CPGs need access to more timely and specific data gathered at the point of sale.

What is point-of-sale (POS) data?

Every purchase at every checkout is recorded in a POS system in great detail, including time of sale, payment method, total basket value, store location, and more. The same is true for large distributors like UNFI or KeHE, which record supplier orders, sales, inventory levels, and more.

Most major retailers and distributors make this data available to CPG partners through vendor portals or email reports, providing important business insights to the supplier.

The value of POS data

The brand- and location-specific nature of POS data gives CPGs the ability to get accurate and actionable information at the UPC and store-level. And because retailers are increasingly sharing sales and inventory data on a daily basis, POS data can provide near real-time insights for product sales and inventory levels. That makes it useful to guide daily decision-making based on:

  • Gross and net sales for each SKU at each retail location 
  • Product on hand – at DCs and stores
  • Accurate data on products sold, returned, or exchanged 

Store-level POS data tells suppliers where and when to stock more product and can provide insights into the drivers of demand. For example, a bump in sales might reflect a new promotion, which would then have implications for shipping, inventory and distribution planning. 

POS data also empowers CPG teams to identify specific sales trends and opportunities for product growth by region and retailer partner. This information is helpful when strategizing location-based promotions, planning product assortments, and pitching new retail partners.

Because retailers are increasingly sharing sales and inventory data on a daily basis, POS data can provide near real-time insights for product sales and inventory levels.

Limitations of POS data

Unlike syndicated data, POS data typically provides insights related only to a brand’s products rather than comparative or industry-wide information. It also lacks the more qualitative inputs of panel or household syndicated data, which can be used to inform advertising messaging strategies. But beyond that, the limits of POS data really come down to the data management capabilities of the CPG.

CPGs tend to underutilize vendor portal POS data because it can be difficult and time-consuming to download, clean, and consolidate across retailer and distributor partners. 

However, when those processes are automated and streamlined, CPGs can turn POS data into true “daily data” to inform decision making in near real time. 

The power of using daily POS data and syndicated data together

Clearly, the ideal situation for CPG suppliers is to leverage both syndicated and daily POS data in an integrated manner for granular daily decision making and more strategic market movements. Together, these two types of CPG data fit together neatly to create a comprehensive view of the supplier’s business landscape. 

For example, a maker of plant-based milks and cheeses can follow general trends in the non-dairy milk category with SPINS data and then analyze their own product sales trends by region and retailer using POS data to optimize distribution and meet consumer demand.

What’s more, combining syndicated and daily POS data provides the full and objective picture potential retail partners want to see before placing a vendor’s products on their shelves. Where does this supplier fit into the market? What are the trends in this category? What is the trajectory of demand, consumer sentiment, and sales velocity for this particular brand and product line? 

The supplier that has that information at the ready will have an advantage in the competitive retail space.

CPGs tend to underutilize vendor portal POS data because it can be difficult and time-consuming to download, clean, and consolidate across retailer and distributor partners. However, when those processes are automated and streamlined, CPGs can turn POS data into true “daily data” to inform decision making in near real time. 

Unlock the full power of CPG data

By unlocking the power of data, CPGs can have a complete picture of their market and business. The challenge is to make that data actionable on a daily basis in an efficient and cost-effective way. 

Crisp provides a seamless, automated way to aggregate and harmonize POS data from 40+ retailers and distributors into easy-to-use dashboards, and flow POS and syndicated data sources to backend BI and cloud platforms such as Snowflake, Google Cloud, Power BI, Excel – for integrated analysis and reporting.

Learn more about a comprehensive CPG data solution that fits your needs by booking a Crisp demo here.

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