One of the great benefits of working with Walmart is Retail Link, the proprietary software that lets suppliers see just what’s happening with their sales in every store where their products are found.
Larger suppliers may also use enterprise level market data reports or custom market research. Knowing what shopping trends look like beyond your own sales can be enlightening, but it doesn’t always fit into the budget for smaller suppliers.
A new tool from Google, currently in beta, will give free access to shopper data from desktops and mobile devices. The data set is enormous, consisting as it does of the billions of product searches consumers make with Google Shopping, as well as the results from Adwords campaigns. Since this is data related to intent to buy rather than sales, it’s a leading rather than a trailing indicator, and can therefore provide valuable data to combine with past year sales.
In the screenshot above, for example, we can see that the Northeast region is pretty excited about Butterball turkey fryers. Southern California has some dark blue areas, and both Florida and Texas show some interest as well. Colorado and the extreme Northwest are worth putting some effort into promotions, but the Great Plains don’t seem to be into frying turkeys.
It’s possible to filter data by devices and cities, so you can determine where your promotional dollars are likely to make the most difference.
The tool is in beta and currently only offers data for 500 products, but it’s one to watch even if your products aren’t included yet. Chances are, it will be extended in the future. The tool is similar to Google Trends, which allows research on all Google searches on a global basis, and Google Shopping Insights could offer the same service for retail product searches.
If your products are included, how should you use the information?
- Identify the regions and devices that are most likely to make a strong showing for you and use that information in buyer meetings as well as in marketing decisions and supply chain planning. It’s a glimpse into a probable future.
- Connect the intent to buy signals with your actual sales to make sure that your products are following the national trends. Knowing were to look can help you identify patterns earlier than you could if you rely solely on Retail Link.
- On the other hand, if your products aren’t showing the same regional pattern, you can assume that you’re missing out on potential sales, and you can adjust plans accordingly.
Whether your sales data constitute Big Data or not, adding larger-scale market research can provide additional insights which make planning easier and more accurate. It’s when you line up the Big Data with your own data, however, that you see the best actionable data.