We interact with data and analytics daily without really thinking about it, mostly because we don’t refer to them as “data” or “analytics.”
For example, if you’ve ever used a smartwatch or FitBit-like tool, you’ve interacted with data and analytics. These devices collect data such as the number of steps you’ve taken and your heart rate. Then, that data is turned into actionable reports that help you know how to be healthier. That’s the analytics part.
You can see the same pattern in your personal finances. When you check your bank statements, you’re interacting with reports, or analytics, that reflect data about your spending habits. With additional charts or reports (i.e. more analytics) you can identify what percentage of your spending is on food, travel, gas, retail, rent, and more. This makes the data actionable. Cut back on eating out, and now you’re saving.
Data is all around us. It informs us and allows us to make better decisions. When we can analyze, or compare that data to other trends, we start to make intelligent choices that make our lives happier, healthier, and better. Your business is no different. Every transaction in your store is packed with data. Every online review you receive or new customer you acquire comes with a wealth of information that could help you run a more efficient business. When you can compare those trends to one another, you’ll have more control of your business.
Stay informed, not inundated
The problem is, with all the information out there, what information should you focus on? You need enough to stay informed, but not so much that you’re inundated. Take your car, for example. You need to know how much fuel you have, but do you need to know exactly how much wiper fluid is in the car? No. You don’t. Not until it’s low, at least. And that’s the power of good data. It’s there when you need it; it notifies you when you need to check on things. Otherwise, it’s out of sight and not distracting you from the other tasks that demand your attention.
So, where should you focus? Each business will have areas where it needs to get more specific, but we won’t be able to cover everything here. However, we can highlight the three main areas every business owner should have at least some insight into beyond a gut check.
Your online reputation
Your online reputation is a lot like your check engine light: if your spark plugs are working, you don’t need to know, but the second something is off, you do. You don’t need to spend all day on your Yelp, Facebook, Tripadvisor, or Google review pages, but you need to know when a negative review or misinformation has been posted. It could cost you customers.
It will also let you know where you stand in comparison to your local competitor’s reputation. You’ll also gather data about the strong points of your business or where it need improvement from the eyes of your shoppers–an invaluable insight.
Your customer database
Even if you’re on a first-name basis with several of your customers, the vast majority of people who spend money in your store are likely complete strangers. Your customer database is more than just a list of names; it’s another weathervane to measure the success of your business. You need to know who’s new, who’s loyal, and who’s lapsing and needs a nudge to come back and spend with your business. A thorough customer database helps you understand the health of your business beyond just sales numbers and transactions.
Your business performance
You deserve to know everything about your business. With so much of that information locked up in the transaction data and previous year’s sales, it is hard to put that data into actionable plans to make more money from your business. Having the data behind the transaction will give you insight into the seasonality of sales and notify you of threats to your business’s success, like an unexpected dive in sales. This type of information will help you run your business more efficiently and prepare you for whatever is to come.
Small business owners haven’t had the opportunity to see their business in this kind of light before. Large corporations have been leveraging this kind of data for years, giving them a major advantage. Small business owners deserve the same insight so they can run better businesses with less time and effort. Womply helps small business owners unlock data about their companies, customers, competitors, and local markets so they can get smarter, faster.