Retail stores have a tremendous amount of information and physical inventory to manage to keep accurate records. Retail management information systems (RMIS) collect and organize information needed by retail managers and company decision-makers to better stock, staff and guide the business to financial success. Often, RMIS rely on computer programs that track inventory and dictate what is ordered.

What Are Retail Management Information Systems?

Retail management information systems provide many functions for the companies who use them. Typically a computer program or other automated process, RMIS collect data on customers, track inventory, provide electronic point of sales services and conduct market research. Your favorite clothing store, for instance, likely uses a RMIS to keep your name in its loyalty program database, ring up your purchase and determine whether the blue shirt you bought is popular enough among customers to restock.

CRM, or customer relationship management, is an important aspect of running a retail business. It is a method, usually electronic, for tracking all of your business’s relationships and interactions with past and present customers. A CRM database is, in essence, a book of business that retailers can turn to when they need to conduct market research or send circulars through the mail. It’s essential that a good CRM system is included in a company’s RMIS.

What Is Meant by a Retail Audit?

From time-to-time, the information contained within a store information system must be examined to ensure its accuracy. Retail information services staff trained in inventory management will conduct an audit to verify that the number of items kept in stock matches the number that the RMIS has indicated should be on hand. For a variety of reasons, including lost or damaged merchandise, theft or employee errors in ordering or use of the point of sale system, the stocked numbers may not match up with what the RMIS suggests should be on hand. An audit, therefore, is essential to conduct periodically to keep the two systems in touch with one another. The results of the physical audit should be entered into the RMIS so that it is accurate going forward.

Sometimes, a retail audit is conducted by members of the company’s inventory control or sales team. In other instances, an outside vendor specializing in retail audits is hired to analyze the retail management information system and make counts of inventory or stocked items.

In addition to identifying discrepancies among cataloged and present items, audits go a long way toward providing additional data as to what is working and what is not. Things like shelf location, sale pricing or quantities stocked may be analyzed once the data from an audit is returned to determine whether the company should alter its approach for certain product lines to improve sales going forward.