Understanding your customers, meeting their needs, and predicting future trends are an important part of running a business; not only from a financial point of view – but as a way of expanding brand identity, trust and establishing a reputation as an industry leader.
With fast ‘smart’ technology becoming more affordable and available to the wider masses, customers are now able to conduct searches, research products and engage with a company long before they step into the physical store – according to research conducted by Google Zero’s ‘Moment of Truth’ (ZMOT), 70% of consumers conduct some form of online research before purchasing in-store. This means that it is more important than ever to ensure your data collection and use is fully optimised and working for your business.
The advances now prevalent in the use of data analytics has meant that companies are now able to use the information provided by their customers both in-store and online to create business plans that capitalise on the information gathered, and create targets specifically tailored for each store, as well as the business as a whole.
However, according to research conducted by eCommera, only 23% of UK retailers believe that they can quickly understand and use the data they have collected – and nearly 50% believe that their intelligence collecting tools fall short of their needs. This leaves a huge portion of an increasingly digital market under-utilised, and ready for forward thinking businesses to capitalise on.
What data should a company be looking for?
One of the biggest challenges when using data analytics is understanding what information you should be collating. As with any pool of information, not all of the data collected will be relevant or immediately useful; without a clear plan and way of actualising this information it cannot work for the business. Utilising digital information properly can allow a company the opportunity to see what products their potential customers are interested in, gauge their reactions to promotions and offers, and evaluate their standing with direct competitors. Each business will have certain sections that are solely relevant to their field, but there are also many different data streams that are almost certain to remain constant regardless, and can be used to identify or target various sections of the market.
Once you have collected your data from its various sources – such as in-store purchases, customer satisfaction surveys, online reviews or interactions, search engine data, and more – you will need somewhere secure to store it, and a system developed to ensure consistent input. It must be done so in a manner that makes logical sense – raw data can only become actionable when it is properly organised.
With the right tools and help, this repository of information has the potential to give you the most tailored and well suited information for your business. Everything from new concepts and packing, products, sales data, prices and promotions, to designing the shop layout, picking a store location, placing products on the shelves and determining what is a lasting trend or a temporary fad, can be evaluated using retail data analytics.
How has data collection changed?
Retail environments are growing increasingly rich in data to be harvested, the evolution of these analytics has seen data collection change from processes such as the simple customer survey that saw one member of staff interact with one customer at a time, to digital ‘overwatch’ systems that monitor an in-store customer from the moment they enter the shop to the moment they leave, allowing a business to see exactly what their customer is looking at, and their honest point of shelf reaction to prices and promotions. In some areas, the use of WiFi is being investigated as a potential source of data for identifying shoppers’ habits.
Looking to the Future
The use of data analytics can not only be used to identify your customers and trends, but also to examine what parts of the company are working, and which parts might need evaluation. Understanding your negatives as well as your positives will allow you to step back and look at your company as a whole, to identify any potential trouble spots before they can develop, potentially saving you time, money and reputation.
To move forward in this current climate, it will be necessary for retail businesses to make full use of data analytics, devise ways of capturing pertinent information, and enlisting the right people to make sure this wealth of resources can be put to its optimal use – allowing your business to make fast and confident decisions that are supported by the economic climate, and the desires of your customers.
Most customers will look around before making a decision on a purchase, by evaluating your data and positioning yourself to be an optimal provider of desired goods, your business has the potential to grow and thrive.
Keywords: ideas to increase sales, retail analytics, retail data