3 Ways Business Intelligence Tools Can Eliminate C-Store Analysis Impediments

If you read articles in the C-Store Industry journals or magazines it is hard to find an issue without some sort of mention on the value of analyzing your data and using it to drive your business.  A lot C-store operators feel like they have so much data it feels like a Big Data mountain to climb in order to just get started. Worse, there is a back office system and a host of Point Of Sale data sets that must be navigated before they can even start looking for the type of data they want to analyze. Without a dedicated resource, it can just be too overwhelming to find a set of data in order to get started. Because of the time involved, the general trend is to just not do it.  In the place of analytics, instinct and experience are used for problem identification and resolution. This works well if you know the problems, and have a process to address them all. However, with the increase in the size of operations, the number of problems increase and the ability to monitor solutions becomes more time consuming. In short, the first step in analysis paralysis creation is just the fact that many do not know how to begin.  Preventing a C-Store company from going into this analysis paralysis is probably the most obvious value attributed to Business Intelligence software. It is also the one thing that can let them know they are running  at optimal efficiency.  There are three key areas where they hold the most value. There are three key areas:

  1. Seeing a problem quickly is a big reason all by itself

The analysis and correlation of data is done for you saving your time for more productive activities.  As an example, let’s look at a daily report where sales are lower than you expected.  Your first instinct may be to look at the Customer Count in that store for a day.  When you do, you find that the count was actually higher than normal, which leaves you scratching your head.  So, you go to another report such as inventory levels,  or perhaps voids and returns, and maybe even time sheets to see who was on staff at the time.   You hop from report to report to see where things went wrong.  After an hour or so, you may find that the reason was because the average transaction amount, or basket size, was lower than normal.  So what you ultimately discover after an hour has passed,  is that you need to find ways to increase the average transaction amount to realize the value from the increased customer count at that store.  When you multiply that effort and time by the amount of stores you are managing, you can begin to see where instinct and experience would be considered, good enough. This describes one of the core values of the Business Intelligence tool.  It saves time.

  1. Finding the subtle Issues that are happening over time  

Some problems are quick an easy to spot, such as no sales spiked due to a bad cashier. No trending is needed.  You can just look at the numbers. Other problems are much more subtle and need more data points to see. For example the daily cycle of many stores means that a daily comparison over time shows that there may be a nice 1% increase in certain sales over the last few weeks. Conversely, you may see that a new store is not growing fast enough week to week to meet your plans for the year rate of sales.

By analyzing the many aspects that are involved in a C-Store, Business Intelligence tools can tell you how to optimize your revenue. Most have trending capabilities where you can look at results over time.  This will tell you when to order, what staff levels are needed when and when you may want to increase your marketing through out the year.  You can reserve money when you can and only spend it when you need to.  Yes, this by far is the most time consuming piece of analysis because you are looking at a large variety of data over time.  There are many reports that have to be pulled together and plotted to show what is happening over a time line.  Instinct may tell you to keep Kerosene levels low and Propane high in the Summer, but it may not tell you to order less snack food or health and beauty products at that time.  Trending shows you the patterns of performance. They show you when they peak and when they fall throughout a given year.  Even having a person dedicated to this type of analysis may not gather it all.  This leads us to the third reason why BI tools are needed in a C-Store company

  1. Nothing Gets Missed or Forgotten 

One of the simple benefits of a BI program is just making sure a regular review of objective data is taking place. Some simple benefits occur when the analytics require timely input of daily results. Just having stores post regularly and review the key measurements each day provides a cadence of accountability that sets the tone for even better results as the analytics show areas that need attention.

Business Intelligence is a matter of monitoring all aspects of one’s business and showing different views of it, in smaller doses, so they can be comprehended.  Through a few clicks, one can find the proverbial needle in the haystack.  Good ones will have alerts and alarms to notify you when something is in decline that you may or may not watch on a daily basis.  It lets you know as soon as the decline begins to offset problems early on.  These tools watch numerous aspects that impact your business.  They allow you to focus on the larger drivers of your revenue while only letting you know about the smaller ones  when they need attention.  By watching these smaller details, many of the larger ones can be prevented.

C-Store companies are very fortunate in that they capture all of the data they would ever need in order to drive their business upward.  it is vast, updated daily and covers all aspects of their business.  With a good BI tool, decisions can be made on factual information, trending will help them know where money can be saved and costly issues can be stopped as they start. Business Intelligence tools are what make the use of  their data practical and possible.



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4 Ways Where Trending Will Help You Manage Your C-Store Better

Dictionary.com defines trending as the general course or prevailing tendency. This perspective is a necessary component or perspective to have when evaluating Convenience Store performance.   So if this is so great, why aren’t all companies doing it?

The reason usually points to the time it takes to gather and chart the statistics so you can clearly see how things are trending.  With limits on staffing and time, few companies have the resources to do it.  Business Intelligence tools can help you with that, and good ones will even do it for you.  When you look at the pay off of peace of mind in knowing the decisions are made and based on facts, being able to look forward, and save money based on patterns and trends,  the pay off is much larger than the cost.  There are 4 distinct benefits that trending will give you what you cannot get by looking at a standard performance report.

Tremdomg subway art

1. Proper Perspective
It will give you a proper perspective to determine if performance was actually superior or inferior because you can compare it to performance patterns over time When looking at the above graph showing weekly sale performance, you may think that sales on the last Saturday of the month were phenomenal, because it was so much better than the sales over the past few days. However, when looking at the trending in the diagram you will see that it was actually the poorest performing Saturday of the month.

2. Succinct Scheduling
It will allow you to set scheduling more succinctly. If using the same diagram above you are able to determine your busiest and slowest days to be able to determine staffing needs throughout the week given the trends.

3. Peak Months
The same can be said for inventory levels as well. If you look at sales over a year, you can easily determine your peak months and be able to set inventory levels according to your trends.

4. Patterns of Growth
Of course your biggest gain is seeing how your performance is trending and whether your business is in a pattern of growth or in decline. This allows you to know when action is needed or perhaps when further analysis is required. If things are trending upward, a bad day may not alarm you as much as it would if things were trending downward. Trend analysis removes you from managing by hunch and moves you to doing so by facts. It also can allow you to see how things will be as you go forward to help you prepare for upcoming expectations. The Queensland Industry and Business Analysis website said it best in their Trend Analysis for Business Improvement article:

“Trend analysis helps you understand how your business has performed and predict where current business operations and practices will take you. Done well, it will give you ideas about how you might change things to move your business in the right direction.”

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5 Things Comparing Sales Over Various Time Intervals Will Tell A C-Store

All convenience stores share and print spreadsheets with the latest and greatest performance statistics to let managers know where to focus and what is going well in their company.  However, a single snapshot in time may not really relay what is going on as much as you think it might.  Yes, current spreadsheets will tell you if what was sold in a given time frame was enough, as well as who your best performers are for that time period. But, comparing sales over various time intervals can tell you a lot more.  This will answer questions such as:

  1. Are sales declining or increasing?
  2. Are these results typical for this time of year or is this a variance from the norm?
  3. Who are consistently my best performers?
  4. Which products consistently sell well even when overall sales are in decline?
  5. Are our plans for growth working?

In a nutshell, time comparison provides you with the insight of trend.  Trends better relay whether action is to be taken, and often times what action is to be taken, whether they occurred in the past or are current.  Having a tool that provides visual insight to your specific industry and in a format everyone in your company can understand, only quickens the identification of what are typical trends and what are ones that need correcting.  So, a tool that identifies trends instantly will resolve problems much sooner than paper reports and  manual tracking.  Compare BI.com  wrote the following:

“How Visual Insight Business Intelligence Reporting Works

Visual Insight translates the data from the business intelligence reporting into visualizations which makes it easier to read and understand. Because being able to read and understand your data is so important.  This has worked well for a multitude of different companies and has saved a lot of time consuming work by IT departments. This not only benefits your employees but your company as a whole.”  It takes the element of the time comparison to automate and provide the visualization of the trend.  It takes a tool to analyze all  that is required to identify trends.”

You know that looking at the same convenience store data in different time frames will give you different information.   Using Over/Short data in a daily view will make you  aware of problems as they arise, so they can be addressed. But, monthly views of this same information may point out a trend, which may be stemming from a training issue, which is more serious.

C-Store sales viewed in the monthly view, may give you an idea if you are to hit your goal, but a yearly view will give you a more definitive way to define which way sales are trending, and if trending downward, where larger projects may be needed to turn things around.  Until you see the overall effect, you may be unsure what the monthly trends mean to your business.  Things go up and down each day in this industry.  The overall view gives you the result of the trend.  This view can also measure improvements, marketing program success and management performance.

Annual views will provide you with an even higher level of understanding.   When you grab a snapshot of your overall sales over a period of years, and compare it to the monthly sales, over that same period it will let you see when things  rose or fell.  This will lead  you to a better understanding of your trends and, when you need to plan for defensive strategy during the year, to make sure next year’s overall results will show improvement

Depending on what you want to investigate, having the option to look at information in different time frames will give you the different perspectives you need to make sound decisions. Where one will provide you with the symptom, the other may provide you with the answer because it identifies the core problem.  However, you wouldn’t know what to look for until you saw the symptom.

Here are some examples of these two views showing this information from BandyWorks’ Quik Data product.

Annual Comparison3 Year ComparisonMonthly Sales Over that Period of Time3 year trend

When observed only on a daily basis, data can look sporadic.  There are good days and bad days whether you are trending in the right direction or declining.  Only over time can you determine which way things are truly heading.  The coordination of using these different views in synchronization is how you get results with the Business Intelligence tool.  Having easy access to all different views at once makes it possible.   

While analyzing all of the data as it relates categories to locations and managers, over time in a manual method is not feasible on a daily basis, having a tool to do that for you will make your company more responsive, help it zero in on the right activities and help it find its way to better performance.

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How All C-Stores Can Afford to Use Their Back Office Data

Customizing your reports is not a new concept. Most Business Intelligence and even some Back-Office tools come with standard reports, but this usually entails data that you can currently get from your Back-Office system already. There are core areas of activity that impact the totals these systems give you that need to be watched and measured in order to totally understand why the totals on those existing sheets are what they are.

Most companies have certain metrics they measure, for instance, one company measures how many coffee cups the sell each day. A generic BI tool will not give you this information without some form of custom development. With a configurable product you will probably only need to know the UPC code, and the report can be created in very little time. When it doesn’t cost anything, you will be surprised to see how many ideas you may have to improve your business through the performance measurement process. There are report writing tools, and business intelligence tool. An ideal tool for Convenience Stores is to find one that will do both

C-Stores have a unique mix of data to correlate so they can completely understand where their issues and opportunities lie. Knowing sales amount by location usually is not enough to help you get to core issues that reside in those stores to help you understand why they may be failing.  These reports identify a symptom, but not the root cause of an issue.

To get to the data that can help them identify core issues, C-Store companies are often led to the expense of customization in their reporting. Not only is there the development cost, but the cost of time and resources to define what will be on the report,  the time waiting for development to occur, and in some cases, even maintenance costs. Depending on the complexity of the report, or the number of systems it has to touch, will determine its costs. Because of the various activities, programs and detail, C-Stores have to deal with, custom reports through software development can be rather costly. This forces a company to evaluate the benefits of the customization and whether the trade off would truly be in their favor.  The need  has to become a choice.

  • What would the frequency of use be in such a customization?
  • What is the possible savings it could generate with it’s use?
  • How many people in the company would find it of value?
  • How soon would the ROI be realized?
  • How much does it cost to extract this information through manual means?

Ask several of the larger chain CEO’s and they will tell you that your back office data should not be ignored if to succeed in this industry. So how does the small to mid size retailer get the reporting it needs without depleting all of their profits? The answer is to look for BI tools that offer configuration. Finding one that is built for C-Stores will prevent the expense of any customizations you would need with a generic Business Intelligence tool.   These are tools that provide a templates that allow you to create your own reports, that will allow you to drill down to the areas of activity that impacts the results of the higher level reports. This help you adapt to the times and changing plans at no cost and it will put you on the same playing field with the larger companies.

Time is another consideration when deciding to go custom vs configuration.  Sangeep Cherry wrote ” Customization vs. Configuration: The Effect on Deployment Velocity” which is an article  that relays the  benefits of configuration when it comes to deployment.  The end result is that the report can be produced and rolled out much more quickly when configured.

If is for these reasons that it is recommended that when investing in reporting to run your business, you will receive much more value from a configurable product than opting for one that would require customization.

  • It will allow you to obtain the view of things when you need to see them, without cost or having to wait to do so.
  • It will give you the ability to see what your issues are where they are happening.
  • Its use can be cost justified because specialized reports would then be possible across multiple projects.
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3 Insightful Features to Consider When Purchasing Business Intelligence Software

If you break the word insight down to in-sight, the power it gives you is easier to comprehend.  It is easier to correct problems, or avoid troubles when they are known and seen.  While spreadsheet reporting will give you insight into the most critical issues, it can be the little issues that impact the bottom lines of those reports.  That is the basic premise behind Business Intelligence tools. Having a visual presentation gives you quicker insight into overall performance. A good BI tool will lead you to those smaller details, once the larger issue is identified. The better your tool is, the smaller the revenue bleed you will experience. There are three considerations, that are often overlooked, that you should look for when selecting such a tool.

1)  Automation

Because it is an automated measurement, it is easier to gain insight more often.  Take advantage if this and look for ways it will automate outside of reporting.  A good BI tool will allow you to drill to the core problem after finding the symptom. That involves bringing the smaller details into the analysis.  This is how the king stores stay on top.  They check and measure these detailed items frequently without drowning themselves in analysis. Yet they catch revenue loss as it begins.  Automation makes this frequent review possible.  Building a process by automating the routing the information it provides to the various people in your company can also have a very positive impact on management objectives.

2) Presentation

Presentation must be comprehensive.  There are a lot of things that could cause revenue to fall.  Falling revenue is usually a symptom of a core problem or, failing process, somewhere within your operations.  29294526_sWhen selecting a tool to gain insight, it is important that the tool tells you the things that could cause the loss.  This is done by setting thresholds.  Having the ability to set thresholds will refine your presentation by telling you the details, only when you need to be aware of them.   Having the ability to view these details easily and, only as needed, will tend to make you use this capability and therefore, respond to the issue more quickly, preventing revenue loss.

If you are fortunate enough to find a tool that has geo-coding where the alerts are segregated by location, you will not only know what the problem is, but where to resolve it.  The best presentation comes down to presenting the analytic findings into a meaningful and interpreted view so you immediately know what to do when issues are presented.  Adding the dimension of the location will tell you where the action is to be taken, and eliminate time spent seeking out the location of the problem.

3) Comparison

Another valuable feature is time comparisons.   How a store is comparing to others in various time periods can provide great insight into marketing, purchasing needs, staffing needs and many other areas of your company.  It is also a great way to set goals and identify trends.  A more intrinsic value is that allows each store to compete with itself, giving them the ultimate apple to apple competition they need to improve.  This type of insight is just so much more obvious when the report is visual as opposed to being spread over multiple spreadsheets.

Operations Tab 09 2015


Purchasing any software can be difficult in a company.  You want to make sure it will meet your needs for it will probably be with you for quite a while.  When you look a these three characteristics of BI software you will find that they are the reason you are buying the product in the first place. You want to be able to gain insight more quickly, to head trouble off as it happens and, use it as a tool that enables you to make the decisions that run your business knowing you have the information that you need, when you need it.

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4 Questions to Ask In Order to Answer “What’s Your Coffee Cup?”

When managing a business that is multi-faceted, fast moving and volatile, people who have been in their business a long time tend to select one statistic that will act as their thermometer to relay the health of their company.  It could be something that may seem highly unlikely that they would base their business decisions on because no text book would ever suggest it.  Obviously you cannot rely on this for the overall management of your company.  However, just as a thermometer reading will indicate there is an issue, you would not rely on the temperature of your child to indicate their entire health. You will investigate further if there is a high temperature  This concept is the same.

For instance, there is  a C-Store company that monitors the number of coffee cups sold each day. They know that if at a certain level, their store traffic was at acceptable levels and therefore their other goals would be met as well. They would only be alarmed when the number of cups sold reached a number below that which they noted as the optimum level.

Another C-Store company measures for sales comparisons between different periods of time. As long as the sales were the same or more as the previous year at that time, they weren’t concerned. And yet another company watches  projected sales. They like how it will let them know if numbers are not be met, while there is still time to do something about it.

There are so many indicators as to how a business is doing, but typically there are one or two that will relay how things are going before it begins to impact the CEO’s reports. Great managers will find their key indicator and watch it. This is not to say that other analytics aren’t viewed but these are the stats that they ask about while passing someone in a hall, or walking into a store, and are probably thinking about while making their coffee first thing in the morning. Finding that one statistic may not be as hard as you think.

1) What statistics are typically fluctuating each day that can easily be correlated to store performance?
2) Are there many other statistics that could be impacted by changes in this statistic?
3) Is it a short time frame when repeat unacceptable numbers could have a negative impact to bottom line results?
4) Can the end of month bottom line numbers be saved/improved if this statistic is remedied quickly?

So books may not be recommending you monitor coffee cups, but an experienced manager might. It will tell them how much traffic they are getting and you can even acquire a formula to determine how much gas was sold with each number that is reported throughout the month. It can tell you if the gas sales are high, but coffee cups are down, perhaps the station is not as clean as it needs to be in that store or, pricing may need to come down based on a nearby competitor’s price.30453625_s It can tell you if people are considering you as a fast food breakfast alternative to indicate how your sales may be doing in breakfast foods. The list goes on and on.

When the numbers is below the level you want, you look at these other things and fix them as they are found to ensure your bottom line goal is being met. It may not be an obvious statistic, but it one that can relay a lot of possibilities of where failure can occur. If you take the time to answer these four questions in order to find your coffee cup, your life may become a whole lot easier when comes to assessing performance.

If you don’t have tools that do Business Intelligence Analytics for you, it could even be critical to find your coffee cup. It can make or break a bottom line  and meeting your goals. Perhaps you too want to be the manager who is always asked how you repeatedly reach your goals each month where you can simply reply, “We sold enough coffee”.

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Winston Churchill’s Wisdom of Ongoing Analysis

Winston Churchill said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should still occasionally look at the results.”   Day to day life typically becomes a routine.  We know what works, what doesn’t and we follow the plan that years of experience has taught us.  Then one day, things come up that we did not expect, and things go wrong.  We have all had those days.  But looking back, had I taken the few moments it would have required to monitor the circumstances as they were unfolding, I could have often prevented the issue altogether.

If your company is like most, you typically have employee reviews, you have audits on your financials, and if regulated, you have inspections run by the agencies that support you.  But, are you looking at the overall health of your company as a part of your routine?  Unless you have a reliable tool, it is a cumbersome task to correlate all of the factors that make up a corporate health assessment.  Some could argue that it is easy, one just needs to monitor their profits.   While profits are a good indicator of today’s health, one should not assume it will be the same story months from now.   Problems can crop up from any facet of the business.   Without routine health checks, things can go awry on the turn of  a dime.  wc quote_edited-1

Because analysis takes so long, most just take the stance that they will deal with it when they get to that bridge instead of doing the due diligence of analysis to find potential downfalls in fiscal performance.

Mr. Churchill was correct.  However, industries like Convenience Stores have a lot of data to deal with and it is all coming to them in different categories and margins.  To run a full perspective evaluation could take weeks, with multiple personnel being involved or, does it?  There are tools to help you with this task. Seek one that offers as many perspectives of analysis that you can get, so you may get more accurate projections for future revenue.   The more dimensions there are in the analysis the easier this task becomes.

Dashboard Vertical drill to supervisor level

Time Analysis

Geographic Analysis

Geographic Analysis

Minute discrepancies in the underlying layers of analysis can snowball into huge losses, but can easily be prevented with proper monitoring. You just have to catch them early on to be able to prevent the avalanche.  It doesn’t have to be hard, it just has to be done.



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3 Dimensions That Are Critical To Seeing The Whole Picture

The information residing on your servers is a key to understanding your business. Marketers have known this for years. However, as fast as thing go in business today, especially in the C-Store space, it is impossible to manually analyze all you need to in order to get the big picture every day as you need it. It takes multiple reports, dashboard analytics, geographical mapping, time comparisons and a good solid knowledge of your business being pulled together. In the past, this was done by creating spreadsheets and even more reports. Having only pieces of this massive puzzle may not be helping you. Who can make sound decisions when they only see half of the picture? The fact is that many don’t know that this is all they are seeing.

When seeking reporting options, you need to find ones that relay the whole perspective. To understand the dynamics of what is going on, one has to look at where and when the normal metrics measured are occurring to gain the best perspective. Paper reports may relay where two Managers are failing in goal obtainment, and can lead one to conclude these managers are not being effective. Paper reports do not relay that road construction was preventing traffic on the road at the time or, that a competitor may have set up shop across the street at the time the decline went into play. One may be seeing pieces of the puzzle, but until they are put together and correlated into the analytics, you are only seeing individual pieces of a picture.

Quik Data provides C-Store simple business intelligence. The product is managed by BandyWorks, LLC has geographical Reporting of Key Metrics giving you the whole perspective of Metric, Time and Geography. The mapping adds a geographic business intelligence format to business intelligence dashboards for C-Stores performance and accountability.

Quik Data by BandyWorks, LLC has geographical Reporting of Key Metrics giving you the whole perspective of Metric, Time and Geography

Seek tools to give you the following:

  • Quantitative Performance Data – The data you get in reports and standard dashboards.
  • Time Perspective – The correlation of timing and when the results went into play.
  • Geographical Perspective – The correlation of what was happening around the store at the time.

C-Store entities, product lines and locations are all so diverse. Basic metrics can be impacted by competition, seasons, weather, and even construction. A good tool will take all of this into play and present the information one needs to come to more accurate conclusions. It will make this type of analysis possible on a daily basis, as you need it. It facilitates the process of setting optimal pricing, inventory levels and staffing levels for the time and environment where they reside. This type of evaluation makes better decisions all around because, once the analysis intertwines these dimensions into one clean correlated view, the puzzle you put together each day will be a true and accurate picture.

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Are You Putting Gross Margins and Gross Profits in Your Tool Belt?

Gross Profit and Gross Margin ultimately mean the same thing. How much money are you making. However, Gross Profit looks at the Revenue number, where cost are deducted from sales. Gross Margin is the percentage and comparison of cost to sales. When looking at a percentage of what you can keep from each dollar that you earn, it can allow you to help reduce your costs or increase your price. BandyWorks’ Quik Data tool for Convenience Stores can become your best friend in determining where your best margins are. It can help you decide which products you should be placing in your most expensive places of your stores, where those items should be placed and even where those stores should be.

Consider a candy called XYZ Yums. Gross Profit on this candy shows it to be parallel to the name brand candies, even though you are selling less of them and they are a lower price. When drilling down to the gross margin you find you are making $.75 per unit that you sell. Will that make you move it to the prime real estate of your stores? Probably not, if you have contracts restricting you from doing so. However, you may move it from that bottom right hand corner to a space next to or just below the prime space so candy buyers will see it more readily with a hope that they will opt for the lower price on their snack.

Let’s look at another example. Say you want to add a store. You need to decide where it should be placed. By looking at your current stores and their gross margins by category, you obviously want to place it near an area where Gross Profits are highest. BandyWork’s Quik Data Software will make finding these locations easy, because your stores and their Gross Margins can be placed on a map to show you from where the highest margins are coming.

Image showing gross margin and sales by conveniences store location on a map

Products that show your gross margin levels at each location on a map can make real estate selections easier.

Though these examples are rather simplistic, the concept can be applied to a variety of issues C-Stores face every day, from real estate selection, right down to buying the racks XYZ YUMS will sit in. With a tool that can make finding that number easy, it becomes practical and a no brainer to have it in the very front of your tool belt.

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Convenience Store Dashboard – Best Practices for Drilldown

Convenience Store operators need data to manage and optimize store sales, operations and profitability. Information is needed at the corporate level, store level as well as tiered levels according to the overall size of the operations. Larger companies often use both regions and districts while mid-size companies typically organize by supervisors. Smaller operations often want to monitor departments such as insides sales (C-Store categories) and food operations (e.g. Subway, Burger King and Taco Bell).

Managers need to see key performance indicators such as total sales and costs, cash and inventory over/short, category sales and inventory turns. One of the most challenging needs is to have a simple tool that quickly provides a view of data that is needed to understand a the overall picture of the business – whether you are in the store or viewing remotely. The views include

  1. Grouping of information – Gross profit, Sales, Operations, Department, Product Categories
  2. Time scale – Day, week, month, quarter and year
  3. Comparison – current, previous, year over year (same day/week/month versus last week, month and year)
  4. Information by region, district or supervisor
  5. Information by Store
  6. Display options – Graphs, Geography, Detail

A useful dashboard will allow quick transitions between the different views using drilldowns to shift vertically, horizontally while also offering presentation options to better show insights for clarity and action.

Convenience Store Dashboard – Horizontal Drilldown

Image of a dashboard for convenience stores showing a view with the same stores, but using a different set of data

C-Store Dashboard Best Practice – Horizontal View

Horizontal drill down shows different sets of data. For example, if you find gross profit information that is interesting, then the view of sales or operational information will explain how the profits were attained. When shifting horizontally, the view needs to remain stable with the vertical level (i.e., if you are at the C-Store department level, then remain there) while also keeping the timeframe constant. The user then can compare information quickly. Of course, the next step can be drilling further in the same direction or changing vertically, timescale or even the presentation. Changing one view item at a time provides the user with a manageable change to allow understanding and find insights. Providing enough views to analyze without require too much time makes the analytical process possible for even busy executives. Dashboards typically assume operational users that do not have time to spend hours studying details. The tool must provide views quickly so that operational action may be ascertained or identify issues that require further analysis.

Convenience Store Dashboard – Vertical Drilldown

Image of a dashboard for convenience stores showing a view of one supervisors stores, while using the same view (Sales)

As opposed to horizontal drilldowns, the vertical drilldown show the same type of information but just narrows the filter to a smaller group of stores. In the example below, the second level vertical from the C-store level is the group of stores managed by a single supervisor – while the filter changes for the stores to be analyzed, the graphical view and the time scale remain constant

Convenience Store Dashboard – Geographic Drilldown

Image of a dashboard using geographic view to show store information

C-Store Dashboard Best Practices Geographic View

The geographic drilldown shows similar data in different formats. For example, the image below shows stores overlaid to a map with roads. Different sales information can be displayed using colors and size to indicate comparative volume as well as performance compare to targets (e.g., inner circle shows relative Gross Profit and outer circle shows the relative sales compared to the stores in the drill-down filter.)


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