Monday, April 22, 2024

Tapping into data to turn chaos into valuable lessons in 2021

Alex Scandurra

The disruption caused by the global pandemic was felt across all industries. Bricks-and-mortar retail was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and suffered immensely as a result of various public health measures.

By Stone & Chalk founding CEO Alex Scandurra. 

Add to this rapid-fire change to consumer behaviour and social unrest, and retailers faced a chaotic business environment.

However, 2020 also thrust retailers into the digital age, rapidly accelerating innovation.

The past year has taught us that you can never be too prepared – and one of the keys to preparedness is the effective use of data analytics to rapidly translate insights into action.

While viewing historical data can help future-proof your business, data analysis should be a critical and ongoing process within your organisation.

If you’re thinking about where to begin — the answer is in your own data. While the efficacy and value of the data you’re able to secure and harness will depend on your existing infrastructure, it is also possible to gather information from manual sources and legacy systems.

Engage the startup ecosystem

Good technology is an investment and for many smaller retailers, the expenditure associated with implementing new tech can be a major barrier. Global vendors may lock you into ongoing subscriptions or contracts that may not be financially viable for your business. Given the cost of customising big software systems, doing so with a big vendor may not be viable for the scale of your business, which, if you aren’t careful, can leave you with a solution that delivers below expectations.

Think about partnering with emerging tech startups and scale-ups in your local market. Collaborating with a smaller player might mean partnering with a team that’s willing to work with you to custom-build solutions and who are more responsive to feature and development requests. Additionally, partnerships with emerging companies enable you to grow together, meaning that the solutions are likely to be scalable and, as an added bonus, you’re contributing to the growth of other local businesses like yours. 

Tap into owned data

Existing data can be harnessed from e-commerce, POS, social media, and email marketing systems.

Those who have access to more robust e-commerce platforms can gather sales insights, including the average value of orders, orders and revenue by product and, even uncover sales patterns (ie, products that are often purchased together). Gathering these insights can help you to build out a well-informed business plan that enables risk minimisation through careful planning, while delivering the hyper-personalised experiences customers have come to expect. 

Most modern POS systems include reporting capabilities. Common metrics such as customer counts, profit margins, and sales trends can provide feed into predictive marketing, ERP and inventory.    

Even the most rudimentary email marketing platforms will provide basic data that can be utilised to optimise your existing marketing campaigns. Statistics around open rates, click-through rates and engagement times may be useful starting points when analysing your email marketing performance.

Don’t overlook offline data sources. Figures around foot traffic, curbside pickup rates, phone orders/inquiries, and in-store retail purchases will also be critical sources of information that can be of immense value when planning for the year ahead.

In the end, the most powerful strategies will be those that combine online and offline data sources. An integrated approach will enable your business to implement a well-considered omni-channel offering that meets and exceeds your customers’ expectations.

Forecasting trends and patterns have always been crucial to business success but it has never been as important as it is today. Paired with human insights, well-aligned partnerships and a concrete digital strategy, data analytics should be a crucial element of your business planning in this year and beyond.


About Alex Scandurra and Stone & Chalk

Alex Scandurra is the founding CEO of Stone & Chalk, Australia’s largest emerging technology incubator and impact network. A former Captain in the Australian Army, he is also a member of the ASIC Digital Advisory Committee and the NSW Government’s Advisory Board for its Digital Analytics Centre.

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