By Marcos Monteiro, CEO of Veezoo
The pandemic reshaped the contours of the retail landscape, with vastly different outcomes for different retail players: the ecommerce giants thrived, pre-COVID DTC brands got a much-needed boost, and some brands successfully launched as work-from-home and other new realities emerged. But for many Main Street retailers, it was devastating.
Meanwhile, consumer’s buying habits have been permanently rewired as they adapted to the changes COVID wrought in their lives. Many are now ecommerce converts with no plans to venture back into stores anytime soon.
What can we learn from this? Change has always been constant in retail, and so the ability to identify trends lines and the agility to react to them are two crucial success factors. But react to what, exactly? Hard data must be at the heart of any business decision.
Making sense of your data is the essence of analytics. But for many retail operations, analyzing hard data is a struggle. Historically, access has been limited to those in retail organizations with the technical skills to crunch numbers and master analytics. What if you’re not a data geek? Maybe you’re pretty handy with Excel, but it’s not suited to database work and it often feels like the data is either outdated or missing.
Fortunately, data analytics ‘for the rest of us’ is here. Along with the ‘consumerization’ of many other IT functions, new analytics tools are available that make it possible for everyone— from the operations teams to the board— to ask the ‘right’ questions, explore hunches and intuition, and get the answers they need to drive better business decisions. Better still, no coding is required; just ask your questions in plain English.
Getting started with data analytics
1. Get to (really) know your customers
E-commerce analytics isn’t just about informing you where your customers are coming from or how much time they’ve spent looking at a particular product; it also enables you to track which of your customers are returning to your store, which ones buy the most, or are the most profitable. You can also look for associations: what do your best customers have in common, what are their device type and preferences, at what point they are abandoning their shopping cart, and much more.
Over time, these numbers add up and help you construct a more complete picture that provides insights into what drives your customers’ buying behavior. Leveraging this information is the key to building and sustaining sales. Here, analytics gives you insights into how to gain an edge over your competitors, and even how to win over some of your competitors’ customers.
2. Create engaging customer experiences
If you can understand how your customers are behaving, you will stay ahead in the overcrowded retail space. We can process and understand data much better through charts and other visual representations, so one good use of analytics is to provide visuals that enable you to understand where and why your customers are struggling during their buyer journey.
Visual analytics software can show you which touchpoints (search, social, or newsletter, for example) capture your customers’ attention, giving you theinsights you need to create efficient, frictionless and rewarding user experiences that will build your brand image and keep your customers coming back for more.
3. Offer better product recommendations
A crucial feature that propelled Amazon to the top of the e-commerce ladder is its ability to offer personalized product recommendations on every page. Delivering this sort of personalized shopping experience is one of the most complicated to develop correctly. Ecommerce analytics enable you to predict the needs of individual customers and to offer relevant product recommendations that drive additional business through cross-selling and up-selling.
4. Empower your teams to analyze
You’re probably thinking this sounds great, but you’ve always considered analytics software takes a long time to implement and is unintuitive and hard to master — essentially requiring a skilled technician. You’re not alone. It’s a huge gripe for many that analytics aren’t more straightforward and approachable, and it explains why most retail operations have formed data teams to do this heavy lifting. But what’s really needed is democratized access to analytics software. It makes no sense that you must use special syntax to ask crucial business questions and get business insights and visualize trend lines.
The good news is that analytics software is going mainstream, which means data analytics are getting as easy to use as a browser. Platforms such as Veezoo plug into your databases so you can extract real-time data analytics and get the insights you need by asking ‘regular’ questions. That means anyone on your marketing, growth and customer success teams can get the answers they need to identify the crucial trends and opportunities to succeed as business ramps back up this year.
This means that for the first time, all team members can use data to make impactful changes quickly. As these teams become confident and familiar with data analytics, they form a data culture where all decisions are data-driven. Once teams start to see the value of in-the-moment business insights, they can initiate decisions, test them, (maybe fail), adjust — but, overall, drive the company forward.
Yes, it’s a challenging and uncertain time for retailers, but if you can equip your GTM and revops teams with the insights they need, you will foster confident, informed decision making — a key ingredient for agility.
About the author
Marcos Monteiro is co-founder and CEO of Veezoo. Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Marcos moved to Zurich to study mathematics & statistics at ETH Zurich. He specialized in computational statistics and artificial intelligence, researching on how the brain encodes information in the primary visual cortex V1, and graduating with distinction from ETH Zurich. Together with João Pedro Monteiro and Till Haug, they founded Veezoo AG with the ambition to make business-critical data easily accessible.
Not only are sustainable practices beneficial for the environment, but customers also favour them. With many brands reluctant to adapt their practices and business structures to be more sustainable, customers have continuously changed the brands they support because of their care for the environment.
This holiday season could be one of the most intense for online businesses trying to keep track of their sales tax obligations across states. It might well be best to seek expert help.