Data is the new currency

No matter their size or reach, most retailers collect data in some form whether it is about their customers, staff or even current stock levels.

Photo by Vitaly

But when does this data become valuable?

It’s clear that retailers do not struggle when it comes to collecting data. With the latest technology, it’s a simple process to gather information on what’s going on in the store or in the stock room. It’s usually an automated process, linked to the devices used by staff members.

With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), even more data can be collected, with even less input from humans. But the sheer volume of data can often be overwhelming, and implementing more data-capturing devices begs the question: what do you do with all that data?

Data is only valuable if you can get something out of it. For example, if by analysing sales data in one location you spot a trend that will help you to boost sales in another location, then that is a valuable insight.

However, raw data and spread sheets full of numbers can be extremely difficult to interpret, meaning valuable data often stays hidden. If you’re unable to use your data to its full potential, chances are that you are not only missing opportunities but also costing your business money by having to capture it, store it and keep it secure.

In many ways it’s like baking a cake. The ingredients on their own are fairly useless, but combine them in the correct way and voilà! You might not be an instant Mary Berry, but you definitely have something more useful than you did before.

It’s extremely likely that the data that any particular retailer collects could help it to improve in one way or another. Just like with the ingredients, the potential is there. Visual analysis can help retailers unlock it.

Data can come from a number of sources such as POS data, footfall data, coupon data, even data from beacons. The trick to unlocking the real value in the data is being able to pull it all together and use analytics to help to visualise trends rather than looking at each data source in isolation.

By taking all the information that has been collected and presenting it in easily understandable graphics, retailers can identify trends and make smart choices about their stores, employees and products.

It’s also important that you can access this insight at any time, from any device. You shouldn’t have to be tied to your desk, and getting key insights in real time via your preferred method boosts usability and increases the chances of making decisions that lead to consistent improvement.

Your data becomes truly valuable once you are able to use it to gain insight, especially in cases when you are trying to replicate success in one store across several others. Your data can also help you understand key differences in locations so that you can tailor your strategy to each individual store. After all, success in a London store may translate to success in another southern city, but it may not have the same impact in Newcastle or Edinburgh.

Whatever your goal, make sure that your data is proving to be as valuable as it should be. Visual analytics can give you the insight you need to make well informed decisions that will take your business to the next level.

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