No more hunches: ECommerce excellence through analytics
April 14, 2017
One of the primary advantages of operating an eCommerce or omnichannel retail outlet is that every transaction creates a clear trail of data. Capturing and using this information can grant your organization a close-up view of your customers' preferences and insight into their likely next moves.
The one caveat is that this transformation only takes place if you choose to embrace it. Some leaders will inevitably decide to stick with their known-quantity decision-making strategies, working on hunches instead of crunching the numbers. Those businesses are missing out on great potential sources of value.
ECommerce is a natural fountain of rich, useful data.
Companies may be overlooking the value of big data analytics because they believe the technology doesn't apply to them. According to CTOvision contributor Carol Evenson, there are surprising and helpful ways for even small retailers to bring data analysis into their decision-making strategies. For instance, firms that work with commercial analytics programs can compare their own, relatively small data sets to projections and trend lines based on big sets.
As long as there are streams of information coming in, analysis is a possibility. Evenson noted that point-of-sale terminals and company websites provide this kind of content - both structured sets of digital numbers and unstructured blocks of data encompassing everything from customer-generated text to images and browsing data.
Various elements of a company work together to make use of analytics insights. Choice Hotels' Hui Wu-Curtis, writing for CIO Review, specified that her company forged an alliance between eCommerce and quality assurance departments, combining analytics on webpage usage with customer feedback to decide when and how to change various pages on the company's site.
When sales and service are kept in their own silos, the opportunities to continuously improve a site or an overall experience are limited. When these departments all work together, pooling both their raw data and developed insights, an eCommerce organization can focus on pleasing its customers and securing return business. Such cooperation and integration can take a digital company to the next level.
Operating an eCommerce business means having access to interesting, useful data.
Mobile opportunities opening
One of the most exciting elements of big data analytics is the fact that new sources of information are always opening. As long as companies have frameworks in place that can handle new and different kinds of input, they can stay effective as times change.
According to InformationWeek contributor Scott Ferguson, the next generation of mobile eCommerce and payments will become more comprehensible for business owners if they have analytics functions on their side. There is untapped potential to gather and use more consumer data and create intelligent strategies based on that content. The author noted that a recent Frost & Sullivan report on the topic prescribed more integration between different corners of companies' operations.
Possible improvements in the years ahead include a new approach to mobile eCommerce. While companies today may see phone- and tablet-based transactions as a competing form of commerce, they should view it as an extension of their overall efforts. A smoother connection between all the corners of an eCommerce business - and brick-and-mortar locations in the case of omnichannel sellers - could allow firms to make truly in-depth and comprehensive customer profiles.
Ideal eCommerce platforms
When companies purchase software platforms to unite the many corners of their retail operations, they should ensure their chosen products are capable of performing analytics functions. The difference between making decisions based on intuition and having numbers to back up new directions can be stark. Why try the former when the latter is possible?
There are numerous functions within any retailer's operations that can be subject to analytics and provide great insights. Analyzing everything from registered customer data to the amount and location of existing inventory could help leaders make decisions. When platforms can export data in easy-to-read formats, or natively export that information into third-party business intelligence software, decision-makers gain reports that are easy to parse.
Competing in the eCommerce field today means taking on large and small companies alike. Organizations that are making choices without access to data may be stumbling into sub-optimal operations without ever realizing it. There's no need to go into important decisions blind because the very nature of eCommerce transactions means they produce data. Finding ways to parse that valuable information could be the move that separates one merchant from its rivals.