Sales Audit – yes, the technology that we have thought of for more than four decades as the collection of tools we use to get us quick, clean and accurate transaction data - can also play a critical role enabling omnichannel agility. And in our quest for Unified Commerce, agility is everything.
Let me begin making my argument by saying that I have been working on and involved with Sales Audit processes and technology my entire career. It began in the 80s, when, as an Operations Manager at Marshall's, I was responsible for overseeing the cash offices of the stores I managed. As the 80s gave way to the 90s, I helped GERS Retail Systems develop a Sales Audit solution intended to compete with the market-leading solution at the time. Fast forward to today, and I have the privilege of helping Aptos market its industry-leading, omnichannel-native Sales Audit solution.
And so it is, with those 40+ years in retail and retail tech behind me, I can say with confidence that there has never been a more urgent need for retail decision makers to have quick access to consolidated and accurate transaction data. That transaction data – that customer, inventory, order, return and sales data – is the lifeblood of good decisions across the fast-moving and ever-evolving omnichannel enterprise. Without it, decision makers in every corner of the retail enterprise are literally flying blind as they try to positively impact the performance of their business.
And for almost all of those 40 years, I have understood that Sales Audit is the technology that keeps the data flowing.
I still remember my days at Marshall's when we would connect the store's ISP to the telephone system (by sitting the office phone's handset in the modem cradle!) after the store closed to ensure the transaction logs made it to Corporate every night as soon as possible. And I remember how, the next morning, we would anxiously await the early arrival of our Flash Sales reports so we could adapt that day's tactics based on those reports. It was only because of Sales Audit that we were able to react so quickly to current performance results and adjust our operations in order to meet our targets.
Nowadays, of course, transaction data is available at headquarters much more quickly and consistently than those days of overnight polling via landline. Quick access to all this rich data is critical to achieving our Unified Commerce objectives. But just because the data is available, that doesn't guarantee actionable insights are. Without efficient and effective Sales Audit tools, extracting actionable insights from your data is still as slow as it was in 1987. Delayed insights mean delayed decisions. And at the speed of retail today, with constantly connected consumers making purchase decisions with the tip of their finger whenever, wherever the mood strikes them, delayed decisions are extremely costly. Unified Commerce remains elusive.
The value of Sales Audit's ability to ensure timely decisions based on accurate, audited and verified data has clearly never been higher. But in recent years I have come to realize that there's another element to the value proposition of Sales Audit. And it's something that I suspect very few people think about…and even fewer people talk about.
Retail expands in scope and complexity seemingly by the day. The list of ways and places people want to shop changes constantly. The list of ways that people want to pay for the things they buy changes constantly. And the list of ways that people want to acquire the things they buy changes constantly. Keeping pace with constantly changing shopper expectations becomes more and more essential to survival.
That's where Sales Audit is vital. New sales channels, payment types and fulfillment options all come with their own unique transaction logs. They each bring new sources of customer, order, inventory and sales data that must make it into enterprise databases quickly – and accurately – so effective decisions can be made. Sales Audit must ensure that every new transaction log is validated, verified and audited before it lands in those enterprise databases.
But you already knew all that. What you may not have thought about, however, is how Sales Audit can reduce the complexity around integrating all that new transaction data into your enterprise. Modern Sales Audit solutions have built-in tools available to help expedite the integration of new experiences and transactions.
With the right Sales Audit tools in hand, integrating sales transactions from Tik Tok Shop, for example, is a simple translation exercise utilizing data mapping tools integrated into the Sales Audit app. With the right Sales Audit tools in hand, integrating Klarna's buy now, pay later option into your roster of payment types can be done in only a few hours. And with the right Sales Audit tools in hand, integrating same-day delivery services — and virtually all other in-demand services — into your order fulfillment strategies is also a simple translation exercise.
With the right Sales Audit tools in hand, our ability to keep pace with shopper demands for Unified Commerce that offers choice, flexibility and speed is no longer limited by complex, fragile integrations that come with high costs and compromised downstream decisions.
Ultimately, with the right Sales Audit tools in hand, omnichannel agility becomes possible and Unified Commerce is that much easier to achieve.
Maybe it's time for that idea to stop being a secret.
Get the secrets of Sales Audit. Learn how to unlock omnichannel agility and overcome constantly changing channels, transactions, services and markets in our latest guide.