Modern Retail

8 ways you can use data to future-proof your business

In today’s industry, data drives growth for independent businesses. Without it, the most strategic decision making becomes more complicated and difficult to create a customer-centric shopping experience. And with the constant shift of emerging technology, market innovations and global volatility become impossible to define when developing your retail strategy. For example, MediaMath reported that 63% of marketers are spending more on data-driven marketing over the last year, with an additional 10% expecting to increase it even more.

Successful brands have identified the best tools to integrate customer experiences. Setting goals and measuring touch points allows you to map brand interactions and discover opportunities for future growth. Furthermore, real-time data allows brands to think fast and provide personalised experiences across digital platforms as a response to the need for your customers, placing your brand at the top of mind at every touch point of the buying cycle, leading to a greater conversion of sales and customer loyalty. To be successful, it is important that key metrics are measured and tracked, so set KPI’s and enhance your marketing efforts and finally generate the revenue you deserve. Below you’ll find some actionable tips on how you can use data to future-proof your business.  

Inventory buying decisions

You should be using data from sales history to direct current inventory buying decisions, namely what sells well at your store and what doesn’t. Where do you need more, where do you need less. Seasonality will always play a big role in your projections — buying for Christmas in time (i.e. during the summer) will mean that you’re prepared when the time comes. Looking at your sales data from previous years allows you to have a better grasp on when you should expand inventory and when exactly to cut back – learn from both your mistakes and successes.

Analysing your inventory data

Always analyse special requests and special orders that you receive from clients. If customers are frequently ordering items that you aren’t carrying, this could be a huge indicator that you’re not ordering the right inventory based on your customers’ product desires. Paying attention to what sells fast versus what takes longer to pick up speed will also help you adjust your inventory buying patterns. Finding a happy balance between not having enough of something at the right time and having too much of inventory of an item that takes longer to sell is key in keeping your floor profitable.

Inventory control

Do you analyse the shrinkage in your store on a regular basis? Seeing which items you’re losing more of than you should be may further help you with your merchandising and in assessing what items should perhaps be under lock and key as a preventative measure. Ensuring your inventory is properly marked by paying close attention to your data will allow you to find any discrepancies immediately, saving you from having bigger problems down the line.

Personalised marketing

You can target customers and prospects with personalised incentives based on how much they interact with your brand and how much they spend in store. In retail, data-driven insights are behind pivotal changes in strategy such as the move away from the end-of-season sale, towards a gradual, structured reduction in price. Analysis of customer habits and behaviour showed that overall, greater revenue is achieved when the price of products is slightly reduced as soon as it stops being the new, must-have item, and then further reduced gradually as time goes on. Data is also used for matching products to customers, working out how to reach them, and then predicting what they are likely to want to buy next.

Customer profiles and product trends

Do you know who shops in your online store? Have you already pinpointed your target group? What about the participation of new and returning customers? If you know who buys your products and when, you can significantly increase your sales by better managing your campaigns. Once you know your customers, you can identify which products and services are trending and what your customers are looking for. See what your most requested items are and what the most popular product combinations are.

As marketing channels become bigger and more mixed, data suddenly plays a significant role in making sure that the customer experience is as seamless as possible. Often, someone goes into a department store and looks at their mobile device to learn more about a product on the shelf. The customer will then have the option to buy it right there or go home and purchase it online. A common mistake is analysing the results they yield separately, so be sure to collate data and compare the performance of each individual effort to see where you should invest more money and time.

The checkout process

How long does it take to process an order? Why do so many shoppers leave your online store before completing a purchase? Analysing average order value, frequency, processing time and reasons for cancellation provide you with a wealth of insights that are extremely important should you want to optimise your site and adapt the services you offer to your customers’ needs.

Payment and shipping options

You should be examining the payment types you offer and how much each one revenue brings in. You should also pay close attention to the popularity of your delivery options. Remember, a popular payment method in one country may be completely different in another and these trends can always change. Do your research and make sure you understand the preferences and trends that apply to each market you operate in.

Connecting to your customers via forecasted performance tools

With the fierce competition, most companies experience today, relying on the general demographics to create your buyer persona is no longer sufficient. Creating content that will appeal to your customer and give you that coveted ROI is much more challenging. Your customers are different individuals and have varying likes and dislikes. Marketers of today need to cast a wider net in creating content that is more personalised and fit their customers’ needs and wants.

Dax Dasilva

Dax Dasilva

Dax Dasilva is the founder and CEO of Lightspeed and a member of Modern Retail's Editorial Board. Founded in 2005, Lightspeed develops a cloud-based EPOS platform used by over 50,000 independent retailers, restaurants and eCommerce merchants worldwide to run better businesses and process over £12 billion in transactions annually.

Visit https://lightspeedhq.co.uk for more info.