Updated: Feb 5, 2021
How target transparency inspires performance, improves forecasting and manages risk
Merchanter, our new Cloud ERP system for merchants, has been designed to help merchants in every area of their day to day operations. Sales are, naturally, a hugely important part of any commercial business, so it was important for us to build in features to help our customers not only monitor how they are performing and understand potential risks, but also to stimulate greater performance from every member of the team.
When people know what they’re aiming towards, they’re far more focused on achieving that goal, and therefore are more likely to hit it. Add in a bit of healthy competition and you have the perfect recipe for success. We brought in an experienced games designer to help design the user interface of Merchanter, applying the psychology of gaming and competition to deliver the optimum user experience to actively increase performance.
There are various sales metrics and performance indicators in Merchanter to help keep results on track. For this piece we are looking specifically at Sales Month to Date, but it’s important to recognise how all the different metrics fit together to help individuals, teams and managers to monitor and assess performance, and take action where needed to support staff and keep results on track.
Having a progress chart right there, front and centre of your customised dashboard, is an instant sense check of how your sales are going. It can also stimulate a healthy competitiveness; people often have a natural desire to beat their previous results, and often when targets are broken down into visible, achievable measures, people are far more likely to increase effort to reach and surpass them. A lack of clarity, when people don’t really know where they’re heading, usually results in lacklustre results and inconsistency.
Managers will have their own targets, and will be able to see the individual, team, branch, depot or company-wide results of the areas they have responsibility for. They can see these figures as a whole, or can drill down further to see individual people’s performance. That way, it’s easy to see whether results reflect a general trend for the business, whether a certain depot is having issues, or whether a particular member of the team might need additional support or development to get back on track.
Having the information to hand and easily accessible is step one – applying the insights and taking the appropriate action will always be down to you, but Merchanter provides the information and the flexible, responsive tools to allow you to see the trends and make faster, more informed decisions.
Evaluation, Forecasting and Analysis
Having a historic record of performance against targets by month also helps business planning, forecasting and strategy. The better the information within the business, the easier it is to plan forward and develop action plans. For example, if you can see that there is always a dip in a particular month, there may be steps you can take to mitigate the risk, either by introducing an incentivised offer to boost sales, or to reduce costs or resource around that time to manage spending.
Understanding the peaks and troughs of the sales year is a powerful thing, enabling businesses to take the leaner months into account and plan around them, while ensuring that workforce resources, stock levels and logistics are sufficient to meet demand in those busy months.
Merchanter allows you to very easily compare sales figures by various different parameters, for individual, team, depot or company-wide figures. You can see results compared to targets and look forward at predicted performance, compare results year on year, month on month, or by a particular trading period. You have the flexibility to drill down very easily into the numbers to understand them more meaningfully, giving you better basis for decisions and planning into the future.
Forecasting is notoriously difficult in any year, even without factors like Covid and Brexit. Merchanter gives you the best chance for accuracy and responsive insight. The better the metrics and the more intelligent the software a merchant uses, the more accurate and agile forecasting will be, striking a better balance between efficiency and service delivery.
Control and flexibility
How you choose to use the information, metrics and dashboards within your business is up to you. Merchanter has over 110 different key performance indicators to give unrivalled insight into the day to day operations of your business and the people within it. Knowing how to apply the insights that all that information provides and take meaningful action is where the real value lies.
Of course, it’s very important that managers discuss these targets with team members so that each individual feels empowered to influence those results; without knowing how to change how things are going, that constant reminder that results are slipping behind could be stressful, adding unwanted pressure. So the positioning of targets, and the conversation around them, is vital, for the good of both the individual and the organisation.
Applying the principles of gamification was always intended to make every working day more fun and enjoyable, helping indviduals get clarity in understanding goals, recognising achievement and hitting of targets, and to be supported in their every day role. Humans are psychologically coded to enjoy success, so seeing those targets smashed is a hugely motivating factor; and likewise, being able to see where there are gaps makes it easier to seek help sooner when required.
Merchanter gives merchant businesses the ultimate commercial and operational advantage, making information easier to access but comprehensive and thorough. The easier the system is to use, the more people will tend to use it. The more it is used, the better and more comprehensive the information will be that comes out of it, and the better the information, the better the decision-making, resourcing and management can be – and therefore, the greater the chance of business success.