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Critical Sense, a San Francisco, Calif.-based technology company, is
launching a business-to-business data package that the company says
will allow manufacturers to “be able to see their retailer’s sales and
inventory levels on a daily basis, by shop, down to the SKU level.”
“In a nutshell, we provide manufacturers, such as Black Diamond and
Patagonia, visibility into their retailer’s POS systems daily so they
can actually see that seven green medium technical T’s for women sold
in Active Endeavors in Chicago yesterday,” Sara Whitner, head of sales
for the company, told SNEWSÂ®.
According to Whitner, the information can be used in many ways critical
to a company’s survival, including: to fill-in orders to ensure the
company is not losing sales due to shelf space disappearing, to
optimize production to allow a company to operate closer to a
just-in-time basis and to distance itself from relying on preseasons,
to assess design so a company can evaluate before ramping up production
which markets might be accepting a funky new color introduction and
which markets aren’t.
Costs vary because Critical Sense custom maps a company’s line to the
retailer and the costs involved are very dependent on the number of
SKUs. Whitner told us that $10 per SKU is a good ballpark for now, but
stressed that cost can fluctuate.
“We are launching this pilot program granting visibility into eight
major outdoor retailers representing over 30 storefronts across the
country,” says Whitner. “We are strictly limiting the program in order
to insure our ability to provide focused attention to our manufacturers
and enable us to effectively utilize their valuable input in shaping
future editions of this product.”
Savings to a manufacturer for getting onboard with Critical Sense now?
Whitner says the pilot program offers significant savings — up to 50
percent discount from the regular pricing when the program is
officially launched sometime next year.
What about POS systems — retail-based systems that allow a retailer to
access a manufacturers database and place PO’s online — that might
already be in place on the retail side? Whitner says the Critical Sense
system should work very well in tandem with a retailer POS system.
That’s because the Critical Sense system allows a manufacturer to work
effectively with retailers, even to the point of notifying them when a
product appears as if it is going to run low. It is then a simple
matter for the retailer to access its POS system and place the
In addition, if a manufacturer has the Critical Sense program in place,
the company reps can then go to a retailer with more knowledge than
they ever had before regarding which SKUs are selling and which are
not. This, in turn, will allow a rep to walk through a retailer’s doors
with a buying plan in place that works for that retailer and its market
We weren’t able to evaluate the program, but on the surface, it sounds
superb. If the marriage between existing POS systems and what Critical
Sense has to offer becomes seamless, then buying and selling
efficiencies could be dramatically improved, increasing profitability
for everyone — now wouldn’t that be nice? For more information,
contact Sara Whitner at 541-308-0380.