April 14, 2017

4 Ways Data Can Give Retailers a New Set of Eyes

Ralph Tkatchuk

(Kaspars-Grinvalds/Shutterstock)

There is no better example of a business sector that has more software catering to it than the retail industry. The amount of data available to retailers is in fact so enormous that the petabyte is too paltry a unit to measure it with. According to Vend’s 2017 forecast for retailers, more operators will be placing an emphasis on data collection to better analyze a wider array of details about their businesses from their supply chains all the way to the elusive post-purchase stage. If you’re asking yourself why so many businesses are choosing to apply data analysis so meticulously to every stage of production, you won’t find the answer unless you first ask yourself what benefits one would draw from such a thing.

Our world has always been data driven. The only difference now is that we have the means to unload much of the grunt work to computers. Thousands of years before these magical devices even existed, we were looking at ledgers and sales sheets to evaluate the performance of particular products and locate avenues for growth. Today, all of this (and then some) can be done with a series of swift clicks on an interface as opposed to manually pouring through a disorganized mountain of papers on a desk. Even this benefit alone does not do justice to how much data can empower you. Let’s just look at a few more ways this goldmine of information illuminates the retail sector.

1. Know What Your Customers Want

If you want to look at what your customers purchased from you, all you have to do is look at your sales ledger. But to know what your customers most desire in your particular niche, you will have to do a little bit more digging than that. Most purchases don’t happen in a vacuum. Customers don’t just walk in, buy one thing, then leave. They will often accompany a “main” product in their purchase with a number of other products. With enough of these transactions, you could predict with relative accuracy what your visitor will buy next.

What do shoppers want? (Andrey Arkusha/Shutterstock)

Having this kind of data is useful because you can recommend popular accessories and gizmos that some of your customer base didn’t know you offered. You can see this in Amazon’s “Customers who bought this item also bought” section. Even if you’re not selling products online, you can get creative with the placement of your products, making accessories more visible.

2. Visualize The Success of Your Marketing Campaigns

Marketing is one of those things that small companies often just “set and forget” without paying much attention to details. Measuring the success of your marketing campaign allows you to make room for experimentation. Gathering data on how many leads and conversions you have generated helps you understand what you’re doing right and where you might need some more work. Think of it this way: You can literally calculate the amount of dollars you spend per conversion by measuring your total investment in marketing over a month and dividing that by the number of people who made a purchase entering your site from a campaign-specific URL.

While optimizing your marketing strategy might take some elbow grease initially, its long-term payout is worth the salty sweat you shed while diligently crafting a message that actually reaches your audience. In order to make these kinds of decisions, you need to collect a significant amount of data about the people looking at your offers. This requires a multidisciplinary approach, one that combines an analysis of social media and your own internal statistics to paint a clear picture of what your target audience wants along with the gap between this and the desires of your current customer base.

3. Learn What You Should Sell Next

(AlexLMX/Shutterstock)

The nature of products constantly changes. There’s always something new, especially in niches that have anything to do with computers, video games, and gadgets. By keeping a close eye on what happens to be trending while traversing the social boulevards of the internet, you’ll be able to gain a measure of what is being hyped. Proper social media analytics platforms will be able to track specific trends in your niche so that you may see what else you should add to your inventory that is relevant to the demographics you’re selling to.

Conversely, you can separate the chaff from the wheat to spot weakening product trends. This will help you determine what products should be less available in your stock. Supply and demand is king, no matter the context.

4. Have a Little Peak Into Your Competition

Although self-improvement is a very laudable virtue, it’s also important to see what your competition is up to. In the past, this was mostly done through mystery shopping and word of mouth. Today, everything you used to have to hire people for can be done from the comfort of your office using the magic of software. It’s now very easy to leverage data that shows you details about your competition’s reach, brand recognition, following, and progression over time.

By knowing how much of an edge you have above your competition (or vice versa), the job of goal creation and the perception of comparative success just got a whole lot easier. Your job now is to make sure you loosen the sails in just the right manner so that you get more wind in them. Tracking the trajectory of your competition can give you a little direction in this department.

Data Is Good

Once you have a significant data store that analyzes every single aspect of your business, you gain a firm understanding over time of all of the areas where you can improve your efficiency and make marketing efforts more effective. Now is the time to get your boots on the ground and find out everything you can about your own business and your competition’s!

About the author: Ralph Tkatchuk is a journalist and data security consultant
with over 9 years of field experience working with clients of various sizes and niches. Ralph is enthusiastic about helping companies and individuals safeguard their data against malicious online abuse and fraud. His current specialty is in ecommerce data protection.

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