How Big Data Can Transform Your Small Business Retail Store

Sona Digital Group

Big data is a buzz word that came into existence as we transitioned from the analog world of tape storage to the digital storage on disks.  As disk sizes grew, we could save increasingly more data. In fact, in 2012, 2.5 exabytes of data were stored each day worldwide and that has only continued to grow.

Large corporations can store these large data sets and with the power of their servers or cloud services. They can analyze and draw conclusions from the data set. Small companies, while some collect the data, it goes largely untouched and analyzed because small business lack the software or technical expertise to harness the power of this data.

For small business, there are a few basics to learn before diving into the world of big data.

  1. Start small and build up – The same way you can’t go from kindergarten to a freshman in high school, you can’t go from not using any data to totally revolutionizing your business in a day. Start small and decide what data is most important to your business. For customer focused data, maybe you want to analyze a customer average order value, customer’s favorite items, customer’s repeat sales or orders, etc. For business level analysis, you could analyze sales by city or region, popular products or unpopular products that need to be further advertised.  Even a small amount of data analysis can be a game changer to your business.
  2. Get the data to the people who need it. Don’t hoard the data, share it with the appropriate people. If a front-line sales person has access to all customer analytics, the sales person is empowered to offer the best products and best customer service to your customers.  If a customer routinely purchases $100 floral arrangements, the sales person knows that from the data and offers them an appropriate arrangement. Same goes for mid-level management.  Don’t hoard the analysis at the top management level. Empower you middle managers with data to make business beneficial (and data driven) decisions.
  3. Ramp It Up – once comfortable utilizing and analyzing the data, the possibilities are endless. Your e-commerce website could use customer data to specifically tailor the site to the customer. If you show the customer items they are more likely to purchase, you eliminate the purchasing friction for the customer by showing them exactly what they want to purchase.

You’re probably asking yourself how you accomplish all of this. May current POS systems already collect and report customer data.  One way to track down to the customer level is a rewards program for your retail store.  Those little plastic loyalty cards are very important to the big retailers.  They provide valuable data for them to analyze about you and your purchasing habits.

Cloud computing has put a vast amount of computing power into the hands of average business owners and developers. Cloud computing platforms like Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS can crunch the data and output the analytics you need to run your business at very little cost.

One of my favorite products is Parascope Data. Their product give the ability to analyze and create dashboards in a flash.


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