Retail’s wasted weeks: time consumed by trade meeting prep

28 November 2017

Research by dunnhumby among senior retailers across Europe shows:

  • Majority (94%) agree trade meetings are important to achieving personal success within their company
  • Average retail executive spends 2 hours and 23 minutes preparing for each meeting
  • Important insights are still missing, with nearly half (43%) neglecting performance issues
  • Majority (68%) want to spend less time analysing data and more time on issue resolution

London, UK November 28, 2017 - Research released today by dunnhumby, a leading customer data science company, reveals that while trade meetings are viewed by senior retail executives as being important to both business (95%) and personal (94%) success, many are not using the preparation or meeting time effectively to meet their goals.

The average senior retail executive spends 2 hours and 23 minutes preparing for each meeting – the equivalent to more than three weeks each year[i] – yet important insights are still frequently missing from the agenda. Nearly half (43%) say that performance issues are not even discussed, despite respondents also stating that diagnosing sales issues faster would give their business the biggest competitive edge.

The research suggests that important insights are neglected due to challenges surrounding data analysis. Interpreting data topped the list of the most time-consuming trade meeting preparations, with nearly a third (32%) saying they spend most of their time trying to identify the relationship between changes in sales and key product, customer, basket and store dimensions.

Dave Clements, Global Retail Director at dunnhumby, said: "Trade meetings are pivotal events, relied on by retailers to get to the root cause of any issues and demonstrate the effectiveness of their own strategies. However, the amount of time everyone spends preparing is staggering. In fact, the time currently spent is four times longer than if retailers automated more of their analysis and reporting[ii]. With it not being uncommon for large numbers of people contribute to meetings, we are looking at a huge amount of wasted resource. Helping people to prepare as efficiently as possible, while also improving the quality of insights, has to be a priority to drive business and personal performance."

Meeting actions speak louder than words

The research found that retailers hope the trade meeting will not only help them to identify issues (68%) but to agree on actions to resolve them (61%). And they have clear ideas about what they need to succeed: the majority (80%) want access to more actionable insights, while more than two thirds (68%) want to spend less time analysing data, and more time on issue resolution.

Clements continues: "The ambition to focus on issue resolution is there, but individuals are struggling find the answers they are looking for in the data. Arming them with timely, insightful information on the issues impacting company performance will allow them to spend less time on analysis and more time resolving issues so they can stay ahead of the competition."

Comparisons per country across Europe

Trade meeting challenges vary slightly across Europe:

  • Spanish retailer executives spend the most time preparing for a trade meeting (2.6 hours), ahead of the UK (2.59 hours), Germany (2.18 hours) and France (2.17 hours)
  • German retailers are most likely to neglect to discuss performance issues (54%), ahead of Spain (49%), UK (35%) and France (34%)
  • French retailers are most likely to want to use the time to agree on actions to resolve trade issues (68%), ahead of the UK (62%), Germany (58%) and Spain (58%)
  • UK retailers are most overwhelmed by the amount of data available to them (64%), ahead of Germany (56%), France (40%) and Spain (36%)
  • UK retailers are also more likely to want to spend less time analysing data, and more time on issue resolution (75%), ahead of Spain (68%), Germany (66%) and France (60%)

Clements adds: "One thing all countries have in common is that retail is moving faster than ever. Machine learning and automated intelligence will help people to make faster, data-led decisions, so they can stay one step ahead of any sales issues and achieve their goals within the organisation."

Click here for more information about dunnhumby Performance Diagnosis.

Download here the full research report.


About dunnhumby - Pioneering customer data science results for retailers and brands
A world-leader in customer data science, dunnhumby has pioneered the use of big data to drive growth for retailers and brands since 1989. With 46 offices in 27 countries, dunnhumby’s strategic process, proprietary insights and multichannel media capabilities deliver competitive advantage for clients including Coca-Cola, Homeplus, L’Oreal, Monoprix, Procter & Gamble, Raia Drogasil, Raley’s, Shoprite and Tesco. Applying insights from 800 million shoppers globally, with specialisms in customer knowledge, customer engagement, pricing & promotions, category management and supplier collaboration – dunnhumby optimises retailer data investment, develops internal expertise and creates tailored solutions that build margin, sales & profit in all competitive environments. Visit to find out more.

About the research
The research was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of dunnhumby. The research was with 739 senior retail executives with 100+ employees and 50% working in the grocery sector. Respondents across UK, France, Germany and Spain. Research was carried out between 24.10.2017- 14.11.2017. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles. 

[i] Based on one meeting per week and a 7.5 hour working day

[ii] Based on a typical meeting preparation time of 0.5hrs, as reported by users of dunnhumby Performance Diagnosis