The customer is always right. That’s the first rule of the retail industry, isn’t it? But how do you know what your customer wants, even before they do, and keep them satisfied? After all, customer demand is constantly evolving with new trends emerging every day. That’s where business intelligence (BI) comes in. BI is a small tool for analyzing your business and getting you the results you need. So, how is business intelligence changing the retail industry? And, what can we expect from the future of smart retail?
What is business intelligence?
In a nutshell, business intelligence is a powerful tool used by companies to understand their target customers and market better. Otherwise known as BI, this software takes raw data and turns it into valuable information. This is then transformed into actionable insights that lead to future business decisions.
To understand the value of BI for the retail businesses today, we just need to ask one simple question: which of the following is an example of technology’s impact on the wholesale/retail trade industry?
We’ll give you a hint. One is a company with a market cap of over 1.5 trillion USD, and the other is a nostalgic memory from the past. The difference? One was future-focused, the other looked only at the current market. The results speak for themselves.
Today’s business intelligence tools provide companies with new opportunities and allow them to take advantage of data not only to predict current sales but to see future potential, trends and understand customer demand on a deeper level. But how does BI work and why is it so effective?
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Fuelled by data: how would the retail industry use business intelligence?
One does not simply BI and win. Reaping its benefits of a BI tool implementation can only be achieved when the application of business intelligence in the retail industry forms an integral part of the company’s overall BI strategy.
From product to inventory management, sales, marketing, and beyond, business intelligence solution should underline everything. It helps develop that closer customer connection essential to dominating the marketing and predicting future trends. Below are some of the crucial techniques that BI has at its core.
Data analysis visualization. This is all about how you see your data. Data analysis visualization presents data in dashboards and uses customized metrics relevant to your retail company to make informed decisions quicker and based on facts. Moreover, BI tools can be embedded into your existing applications to empower users with immediate access to data.
Reporting. When the bottom line is finance, making sure your business is in the black is vital. BI tools for reporting gather data from all over your company and process it to allow better data analytics and reporting and financial decision-making with a cool head and rational mind.
Predictive analytics. How do you know a strategy will work? The truth is you can’t, not 100%. However, with business intelligence, you can make an evidence-based decision to drive business further. BI allows you to analyze data and make a reasonable guess at the latest trends and customer behaviors that drive sales and impact the company’s future growth.
But, most of all, all that data tells you one important thing – all about your customer and the market. This is what those statistics really mean.
Data tells meaningful stories: benefits of business intelligence in the retail industry
Your customer is an individual. They are not a statistic. Not a market segment. And not a group. In today’s market, they expect to be treated as such. Brands that can tap into personalization and good customer service can deliver 5.7 times more revenue than competitors.
But how do you know who your customer is and what they desire? This is where business analysis steps up to the plate. It allows retail companies to absorb mass amounts of data about their business and customer data – from sales to market trends, consumer behavior and needs, and more – and using BI transforms it to tell meaningful stories.
It is these stories that help you connect with your company’s bottom line – your customers. After all, isn’t how good you think your product or service is. It is how good your client thinks your product or service is.
Need to make sense of the sea of data to get closer to your customers?
Here are the six advantages of business intelligence in the retail industry
Instead of just witnessing how business intelligence is changing the retail industry, be an active player in the process. With the technology in place, your employees will be able to rely on meaningful information when making decisions, uncover pain points in your business processes in the early stages, gather data about your customers from heterogeneous sources to create deeply personalized offers, and identify the most appropriate way to connect with each consumer.
Improve your decision-making
Data isn’t just numbers. It’s behavior. By engaging data in a meaningful way, businesses can better understand their market and capitalize on it. Utilizing all that big data and transforming it into easy-to-digest actionable steps allows retail companies to plan and strategize more effectively based on actual market need, not presumed ideals.
Optimize your processes
No business strategy is perfect from the start. What’s important is to identify and eliminate those errors early on. BI solutions empower companies to continuously assess how their business operations run to gain operational efficiency. By identifying pain points early on, these can be quickly eliminated, and improvements made.
Know your customer
Business is driven by market demand. If no demand exists, what you have is a hobby, not a business. BI tool allows you to gather data about your customers, like never before. And this applies whether you are a brick and mortar store or an online platform.
Here’s an example of a visualization of a customer’s decision-making process that helps you simulate customer-switching and estimate the likelihood of switching from one need state to another.
BI tools enable your business to take both structured and instructed data and transform it into actionable insights. These tell not only about your sales process and any issues but who your customer is. This allows you to optimize for them and their needs, increase customer engagement or predict customer churn and mitigate the impact of this process.
Personalize to perfection
As we said, consumers now expect businesses to interact with them on an individual level. This is crucial to client satisfaction. After all, a satisfied customer is four times more likely to refer a friend and five times more likely to make a repeat purchase. But, can a business do so without jeopardizing profit?
Business Intelligence, of course. This solution helps you to identify areas within your business and customer journey that can be personalized, and cost-effectively. For example, it may be the purchase process on your app or how your staff interacts with clients.
Keep your staff in-the-know
Henry Ford once said, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” One of the key benefits of business intelligence is helping your staff better understand your clients and their needs.
Empowered with knowledge, your team can better trouble-shoot issues, adapt to customer needs and behaviors, and, thus, increase customer satisfaction level and improve sales. For example, this could be as simple as allowing shoppers to shop independently or providing assistance. Knowing that your shoppers prefer home delivery over pick up or having an option to do so. Or even as complicated as offering recommendations based on previous choices.
Connect the right way
Sales and marketing probably make up a significant chunk of your budget. That’s why it’s vital that they’re effective. No longer are sales and marketing campaigns merely targeted to customer segments or around special occasions, such as the holidays. Your sales and marketing need to directly connect with an individual customer as 96% of consumers expect a seamless shopping experience across channels.
BI empowers your retail business, first to understand what makes your customer tick, and utilize it in a meaningful way to connect on their level. What platforms do they use? Where do they shop? And could will they know about your business? Saving you time, money, and allowing you to plan effectively.
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So then, how is business intelligence changing the face of the retail industry?
This is retail, but not as we know it. Data is driving everything, and only those who can lasso the great bull of ones and zeros can hope to control the market. Smart retail is here to stay. It is data-driven, efficient, and, most of all, customer-focused.
In the digital world, the bottom line of business is the ability to adapt, be future-focused, and personal. And the tool to achieving it is business intelligence. BI is changing how retail is done, making it forward-facing and customer-focused in a way unlike ever before.
Keep up with BI adoption trend and leverage the technology to the fullest!