Companies serious about selling and capturing market share should be using Business Intelligence (BI) solutions. Today only about 10% of total retail sales in the U.S. are conducted online. That means there’s a lot of online retail real estate ready for the taking. To capture this unclaimed market share, you need to have an in-depth knowledge of the market, consumers, their needs and expectations, the competition and your own capabilities.
Business intelligence is the solution to understanding your market, so that you can win.
What is business intelligence?
You may not even realize it, but your company already posses a great deal of business intelligence; however, you simply may not have the tools to collect and make any sense or use of it.
Business intelligence is the fruit you harvest from raw data like purchases, orders, sales, suppliers info, and customer profiles. When you use the right tools to extract and organize this data, it leads to actionable insight that helps you better understand your customers and suppliers and measure your performance and operational efficiencies.
How can you collect BI data?
There are two ways companies get their hands on BI. One way is hard. One is much easier.
Manual Data Collection
Many companies spend time running reports using software designed before the turn of the century. These often error-laden reports are used to make important business decisions. This strategy is archaic and out of touch. Here is a list of problems faced when doing this.
|Manually run reports from separate systems||• Huge amount of data
• Often inaccurate, doesn’t tell the whole picture
• Not customized
• Not detailed
• Single view in time
• Narrow view of business
• Rely on manual comparisons
• Retroactive and descriptive
• No analysis
• No monitoring
• No prescriptive direction
• No estimations or predictions
• Leaves you to make own assumptions
|Comparing reports from separate systems||• Each system’s reporting capabilities differ leaving users comparing “apples to oranges”
• No correlations
• No cross calculations
• Time consuming
• Slows response and action
|Channel reports are standardized||• Limited reporting with Amazon, eBay, and other marketplaces and eCommerce platforms
• Same information as everyone else
• No competitor intel
• Data without context/variables/analysis
Let this be a warning to companies who seek success selling large product catalogs through multiple channels. Manual data gathering and reporting will not help you answer questions like:
- How much product sold last hour on Amazon or in store #57?
- Which channels and locations are selling more product YOY?
- How much inventory is available for transfer for an influx of orders on eBay?
Not knowing details on performance is a big red flag. Managers should not have to wait for month-end reports to know how the business is doing. Without immediate information, you cannot build a market leading company.
Technical Data Collection
Aggressive growth companies want the ability to quickly and confidently make business decisions. They rely on BI software tools to extract, parse and analyze large amounts of business data.
If you’re like most companies, you depend on several systems to collect and store your data. It is essential that your BI tool sources that data from each of those systems to provide a holistic view of your operations. Otherwise, you’ll end up with separate analyses and views not showing the whole picture.
Robust BI apps can also provide customizable dashboards and help you perform analysis based on multiple inputs. Here’s a list of the many beneficial outcomes gained with BI software analysis.
|Pulling data from each system like ERP, POS, Accounting or channels like Amazon, eBay, eCommerce web stores like Magento, Shopify and BigCommerce as well as third party apps and extensions||• Accesses all your historical and real-time data for easy viewing
• Exact figures, stats and calculations, telling the whole story
• High level or deep detail
• Single view or specific views in time or by comparison like YOY
• Broad view of business performance
• Retroactive and descriptive
• Basic and complex analyses
• Unlimited monitoring options
• Simplifies multichannel business
|View the business|
- Historically (past)
- Operationally (current)
- Analytical (why)
- Predictive (what)
- Prescriptive (how)
- Explorative (solve)
|• Format for viewing on computer screens, TV monitors and mobile devices – display charts, graphs with live activity on sales, locations, channels, traffic, SKUs and more
• Import and export reports
• Printing and publishing
• Integrate into workflow management processes
|Making Decisions||• Reduces reaction time
• Increase speed to market
• Cleans up supply chain processes
• Eliminate unprofitable activity
• Increase efficiencies
• Selling successfully
• Targeted marketing
• Agile brand management
• Flexible and proactive market penetration
Take Control of Your Business
Advanced analytics systems can be quite expensive. Historically, that meant only huge enterprises could afford them. Today, less complex, more affordable versions are available that offer impressive functionality. They often also employ SaaS architecture to offer fast and easy deployment and subscription-based pricing.
The retail business is competitive and complex, and a BI solution can help transform your company’s operations and business strategy. Move from a ‘shot in the dark’ approach to a laser focus on achieving goals.