In the coming weeks, we’re delving into the ways different industries are leveraging various types of data to improve their business operations. Today, we’re kicking off with an industry where the power of data has already proved itself in a major way: Retail. In this sales-driven space, we’re seeing companies use analytics and mobile technology to better understand—and ultimately better serve—their customers. Here are four ways effectively leveraging data can make an impact on the retail space, from profits all the way to employee morale.
Improve Productivity and the Bottom Line
Analytics tools provide retailers with a comprehensive snapshot of their key performance indicators at any given time. This information empowers companies to optimize their resources, so they can spend less time on the activities and products that don’t contribute to the bottom line, and more time on the ones that do.
This might mean having more BOGO shoe sales in a store location where customers have historically taken huge advantage of it. Or, an electronics retailer may stock up on flat-screen TVs when Black Friday rolls around to serve as many customers as possible with a popular sales item. With the cost of global overstock and out-of-stock at $1.1 trillion annually, the importance of efficiencies created in this arena cannot be ignored.
These types of insights lend themselves to more effective store arrangements as well. For example, displaying marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers together—the ingredients for a perfect s’more—creates a store environment that’s more convenient for customers. It also means less floor clean-up for employees. At the end of the day, greater productivity is achieved, saving retailers precious time and money.
Put Relationships Back in Retail
Developing and maintaining strong customer relationships is imperative in order for companies to thrive in the retail industry. Big data analytics turn large volumes of customer data into actionable insights, and visualizations make these insights accessible. But if you look beyond the high-tech tools, you’ll see that business insights are also returning retail to its basics: working with people.
Previously, store management teams poured over various reports, searching through numbers to spot trends that could help them set their priorities for the week. Now, dashboards make both the top-level trends and nitty gritty numbers available at the touch of a button. This gives store managers more time to spend with customers and employees out on the sales floor, equipped with mobile apps to better engage with them.
In seconds, sales personnel can tell a customer which color of which product is in stock at that moment, and what else they might be interested in buying based on their preferences. Each customer receives the special experience of a human interaction, backed by data-driven knowledge. How important is this? Just ask the 86 percent of customers who say they would pay more for a better in-store experience.
Make Smart Decisions – Everywhere Employees Go
Retail is a volatile industry. Trends change constantly, and companies must adjust quickly if they want to survive. If business insight is locked away in a desktop computer or on a spreadsheet, management simply can’t make data-driven decisions quickly.
When mobile apps provide customized dashboards to executive teams and regional management, it becomes far easier to make smart, timely decisions. No more tedious scrolling through spreadsheets—the exact information you need is available and easily accessible with one click on your mobile device.
Inspire Healthy Competition Among Employees
Typically people become sales associates not only because they enjoy working with clients, but because they have a competitive personality. Mobile apps let store personnel see exactly how they stack up against their peers’ sales performance, fueling their motivation to up their game. This gamification can improve job satisfaction for employees and increase profits for the retailer.
Think about an automotive retailer, where employees can view how many cars and add-on features their peers have sold that week. Sales management can create incentives for their team to beat the leading seller’s record for most cars sold in one day. Employees are enticed by the competition, and will likely end up with a larger commission in the end. It’s a win-win all around.
How have you incorporated analytics and mobile technology into your strategy? Share your story with us in the comments below! And click here to learn more about MicroStrategy’s retail capabilities.