In the last decade or so, and particularly in the last few years, data has become more of a vital business tool than ever before. It not only helps entrepreneurs to solve problems, be innovative, and reduce business costs, but can also disrupt whole industries.
While until recently the cost of tracking and analyzing data was prohibitive for smaller firms, now it’s affordable and easier than ever to use. This means solopreneurs and other SMEs can and should be using analytics on a regular basis.
Due to its growth, the topic is even studied in a variety of university courses now, including everything from a BSBA degree program through to a Computer Science program; plus there are short courses and books on the subject to look into. If you’re ready to grow your business this year, read on for some of the top ways you can start using this tool to get ahead.
Whether you’re a retailer or stock parts or other type of inventory for day-to-day operations, you should use analytics to better manage your selections. Growth in a business often comes because you’re stocking the right products, in the right quantities, at the right times. On the other hand, many ventures go under or start to struggle because they have too much cash tied up in items which don’t move quickly or at all. This is true regardless of whether you sell stock as is, or use it to build your wares or in some other capacity.
To keep your business in the best shape then, use analytical programs to keep track of how much of each product you have on hand at a time, and in what configurations, such as by color or size. You also need to be able to see, at the drop of a hat, when you last sold an inventory item; how many products you have in each category; how much of each thing you’ve sold since you first introduced it to your line; and when there is the most demand for each piece.
Once you keep a close eye on this information for a while, you will be able to choose better inventory and stock up at the right times. The data will also help you to avoid spending money on outdated or unpopular goods, and to know when to discount supplies that have been sitting in your warehouse for too long.
Understanding the Target Market
Another important factor in growing a business is making sure you understand the people you’re trying to sell to. You need to know many details about target market(s) – you might have multiple markets, if your business has numerous product lines or uses for its products or services – if you want to sell to them effectively.
You should be utilizing data to help you learn about both your current clients, and those people who could become customers. By examining analytics you can determine patterns in consumer behavior, such as how people find out about your business or arrive on your website; what times of day they shop; how they browse and buy; which search terms they enter online; which products they most look for, and so on.
Use these details to find new product lines to offer, and to discover the best ways and places to market to your target demographic(s). Analytics will make it easier to effectively design many different types of business processes and strategies too. For example, you’ll be able to ensure your website structure and functions best suit your preferred customers; that you use the right kinds of information and content in your marketing campaigns; and that you cut costs by discontinuing processes and strategies which simply aren’t yielding results.
You can vastly improve the customer service provided to your clients, and your sales and other growth factors, once you start taking advantage of analytics. When you examine data from all sorts of places, you’ll get a better idea of how to ensure each customer has the best possible experience when dealing with your business at each touchpoint. This includes when they Google your business, check out your website, phone your company, send an email, search for products, request information, make a purchase, use your wares, etc.
Use data to find out when people shop and most need assistance. Then, you can keep plenty of support staff on hand at those times to cater to demand. As well, analytics can show you how people prefer to get in touch with your firm. For example, you might realize you need to concentrate more on answering emails or social media messages quickly, or that you need more customer service team members on hand to answer calls.
You can also provide better support to consumers by understanding what types of questions they regularly ask. Examine frequently asked questions to determine which information needs to be made more readily available, and what kinds of self-service options you can provide to keep people happy. This list includes things like chatbots, forums, tutorials, over-the-phone payments, automated updates, and the like.