Big Data for Smaller Retail: The Most Impactful Data Points

Ecommerce has long had the upper hand when it comes to data collection and analytics. While some brick and mortar retailers have moved to cloud-based point of sale for mobile checkout – according to Accenture, the retail cloud market is expected to reach more than $15.1 billion in 2015 – many are struggling to successfully manage multiple stores and channels since most options don’t provide the inventory management, analytics and CRM necessary to do so.

Data doesn’t benefit you if you can’t analyze it!

Untapped data is like a gold mine – it can make you rich, but first you have to sift through the dirt. POS companies realize this need and are starting to add in more inventory-based analytics. The next challenge is to identify the most impactful data, especially as you add new sources of information. Aside from general profit margins, here are some are the most influential data you can monitor:

Customer Data:  Get the whole picture

This might seem obvious, but you would be surprised how much customer data is often overlooked. People are much more than their transactions – everyone tells a story through their behavior. Shoppers are engaging with brands in an increasing number of ways—ecommerce, in-store, social, email, mobile—and creating valuable data all along. As you expand, it is increasingly important to be able to see how your customer engages with your brand across your entire business, as one profile. Don’t just know what your customer is buying. Know when, where, how, and, most importantly, why.

Who are your fans?

Once these customer profiles are compiled, you can easily identify your most loyal fans. The Pareto principle (aka “The 80/20 Rule”) applies to retail; 20 percent of your customers drive 80 percent of your business. Hone in on those 20 percent and use their data to engage with them directly, offering specialized product suggestions based on past purchases or letting an ecommerce customer know you are opening a new store in their area.

Vendor Data:  Take charge of your inventory

Knowing how well an item is selling is not the most efficient use of data. By analyzing products by vendor, you can simplify your ordering systems and cut out vendors whose items aren’t selling as well. You should also determine vendor by vendor profitability by looking not only at costs versus sales, but also analyzing the average basket.  Is a particular vendor driving other high-value purchases? Having this data at your fingertips can be especially helpful at a trade show, so you can make truly informed purchasing decisions.

External Factors: You can’t control the weather…

But you can predict it. This report from the Federal Reserve details how fluctuations in weather can impact spending and shopping behavior. Having multiple stores in various climates can make it difficult to track the impact of weather across your entire business. By aggregating weather and sales data into one dashboard, you can improve your inventory and staffing decisions. For instance, if you see a week of 80 degree weather coming up for your Texas store, but the New York location still has weather in the sixties, it may be time to transfer some of the cold-weather wear to the east coast, or start offering discounts on winter items. Rain on the horizon? Save on costs by limiting the number of staff you enlist for the week, as foot traffic is typically lower during bouts of bad weather.

Employee Data: People are your best asset

Your sales employees represent your brand on a daily basis. By measuring employee performance based on factors such as punctuality, sales per employee, most successful item categories, and number of hours worked, you can make sure you are always putting your store’s best foot forward, better allocating resources to employee training or optimizing staff on high-traffic days. You can also reward star performers to help set a standard for your brand.

It used to be that data was inaccessible until a customer got to the check-out. Mobile technologies have changed the game, and opened up the possibility for brick and mortar retailers to collect and use all sorts of new information. Armed with this data, the possibilities are endless for your business. Staff has the opportunity to upsell based on past purchases from other channels and collects even more customer information through on-the-floor engagement. Store owners can select vendors who drive the most profitable sales. Managers can ensure that top performing employees are scheduled on the busiest shopping days of the year and rewarded for their success. The data is there; the key is to avoid analysis paralysis so you can use it.

JP Chauvet is Chief Revenue Officer of LightSpeed.

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