How is business intelligence changing the retail industry?

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 customers and market better. Otherwise known as BI, this software takes data and turns it into information. This is then transformed into insights. And it is these insights that lead future business decisions. 

To understand the value of BI 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?

  • Amazon
  • Blockbuster

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 allow companies 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?

Fuelled by data: how would the retail industry use business intelligence?

One does not simply BI and win. Reaping its benefits can only be achieved when the application of business intelligence in the retail industry forms an integral part of the company’s overall strategy. 

From product to sales, to marketing, and beyond, business intelligence 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 business to make smarter decisions, quicker and based on facts. 

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 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 BI, you can make an evidence-based decision to drive business further. BI allows you to make a reasonable guess at the latest trends and customer behaviors that 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 companies to absorb mass amounts of data about their business – from sales to market trends, customer behaviors 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.

Here are the 6 advantages of business intelligence in the retail industry

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 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 operates and if it does so efficiently. 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 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.

BI tools enable your business to take both structured and instructed data and transform it into 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. 

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 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 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 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 groups or around special occasions, such as the holidays. Your sales and marketing need to directly connect with an individual customer. 

BI empowers your 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.

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.

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