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What Does a Retail Analyst Do?

By Paul Scott
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A retail analyst is responsible for the smooth flow of goods through a retail outlet. This entails monitoring sales, identifying current and future trends, and supervising the outlet's inventory. The post is combination of hands-on involvement and advisory roles with an outlet's management looking to the retail analyst for guidance on a number of sales-related issues. The analyst typically also serves as the outlet's liaison with their suppliers and off-site warehouse facilities. Through these activities, the retail analyst ensures that stock outs are minimized without incurring excessive stock risks.

The retail industry is usually fast-paced and volatile, requiring the constant vigilance and input of an experienced and dedicated team to ensure a smooth, profitable operation. These teams generally include a retail analyst, a critical member to whom the rest of the management group looks for guidance on a number of sales and inventory-based issues. The condensed job description for the retail analyst is the control of the sales flow in such a way as to avoid stock outs while preventing accumulations of redundant stock and the commensurate financial risk that this incurs. This is, however, a understatement of the scope of the job, as it requires a steady head and an intimate knowledge of the outlets core business, target market, and successful retail concepts in general.

One of the most important functions of the retail analyst is the identification of current sales trends and the prediction of future trend directions. These trends are frequently based on category sales and are often subtle enough to be missed by all those but a canny and highly-experienced analyst. This is a skill based strongly on the individual's feel for the retail industry in general and the outlet's lines in particular. This part of the analyst's job is a consulting function where management is simply advised on the analyst's findings. This advice allows management to make informed decisions regarding purchasing timing and policies.

The retail analyst also plays a very hand's on role in the outlet's sales dynamic. The control of the store's inventory typically forms a significant part of the analyst's day-to-day work load. This function includes the development, implementation, and maintenance of the stock-keeping policies and systems that ensure smooth stock movement. To achieve this, the retail analyst has to liaise closely with off-site warehouse facilities and suppliers as well as management regarding supply chain issues. From a qualification perspective, the analyst would typically be required to have strong database development abilities and hold a bachelor's degree in a relevant financial discipline in addition to possessing excellent verbal and written skills.

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