Too often, retailers hear, “You should use big data in your retail operation“, and immediately start analyzing data to figure out what lessons can be learned. Unfortunately, without a game plan in advance, this practice is more like searching for needles in haystacks.
Retailers should consider overall company strategy first before diving into the pool. Knowing what high-level goals are important to the team, how to use feedback from customers, and prioritizing data carefully will help business owners make the most of data, in an effective way.
1. Be objective with goals and support with figures
Before digging into any data, you need to be clear about your larger business objectives. Create a strategy that starts with goals you want to accomplish and review what concrete data you’ll need to make sure you achieve those goals. It’s incredibly easy to get overwhelmed with all the facts and figures currently accessible. But if you stay hyper-focused on your goals, communicate those goals with the team, and be consistent, you’ll find that you don’t have to use every piece of data to support your goals.
2. Consider every aspects
Data isn’t just about pulling numbers – it can be qualitative as well. For example, if your support team is on the phone with customers every day, what type of information do they gather? What common questions do they receive from your customers? Do patterns emerge that you can use to improve the experience, therefore increasing the likelihood of repeat business?
Collecting information of any kind can be represented as data you use to make decisions. Get with your team to figure out ways to conduct research and provide helpful insight, allowing you to make more informed, well-rounded decisions.
3. Focus on important and feasible data
Not all data will help you understand if you’re getting closer to succeeding. In fact, depending on what kind of data you are analyzing, it can even complicate and derail your team. This is why it’s important to set goals, create a list of data essential to reaching that goal, and supplement it with anecdotal and possibly tangential data – but don’t let it consume your direction. On the flip side, don’t assume you thought of everything. Check in on your team and reference data to help make decisions. If things are going astray, be agile and find a new solution.
4. Be in mind, data isn’t the solution, it’s a resource
Data facilitates decision making and shouldn’t be the only factor. Analytics give retailers context to understand trends, but it’s up to you to decide your company’s ultimate direction. Instead of starting with the data to find out what it tells you, leverage data that’s most relevant to what you want to achieve.
Don’t forget that data can be found in all forms, not just in pure numbers from a computer. Listen to your team members and schedule time quarterly to find out new information you may have missed before. Finally, remember that data supports your decisions, it’s not what dictates which decisions to make.