BI and analytics taking the wheel in retail

For all businesses, it's of paramount importance to have a strong understanding of what customers and clients want. In a sector such as the retail industry, this knowledge is arguably even more vital than it is in almost any other field. Whether a retail business is brick-and-mortar or web-based, or whether it's a relatively local SMB or a multinational enterprise, the truth is this – all of these companies live and die on their ability to accurately assess customers' preferences. 

It's becoming clear that business intelligence solutions and the proper use of analytics both have to be involved in the retail sector. With the best possible application of these tools, companies in this sector will be able to optimize the data they collect about their loyal patrons and use it for a twofold purpose – to better serve their customers and benefit their bottom lines.

New approaches to analytics
According to the Guardian, certain retailers are beginning to use customer information in different and more effective ways. The news source reports that some are studying the literal behavior of customers in stores using closed circuit video footage, looking to see what displays and items and departments seem to attract customers the most and where they spend the most time. 

That approach, of course, won't work for all retail businesses, as it's impossible for e-commerce companies to adopt. As an alternative, online and brick-and-mortar retailers alike can take advantage of the burgeoning importance of social media in today's society, and many are. Taking data from the major platforms of Facebook and Twitter – as well as Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube – is a great way to determine customers' opinions on given products and correlating that to declines and upticks in sales. The results can then be used to help shape sales strategies and marketing efforts.

Suited to the nature of retail
In a recent report by Gartner, the firm's researchers determined that those in the retail sector are generally more innovative than companies in other fields, due to their need to establish a strong connection with customers. This makes them more likely to adopt solutions that other industries might not deign to try. 

As such, adoption of BI solutions and analytics fits into this appreciation for innovative behavior. If your retail business isn't using the best software to properly parse customer analytics, you risk falling behind competitors of yours that are.

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