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How you handle customer data could be key to business success

As business becomes increasingly digitalised, more and more data becomes available. Now’s the time to stop hiding from it all, and use it to take things to the next level.

How you handle customer data could be key to business success image

Hi everyone, Zarte here. Yes, the sniper did fail. Better luck next time!

Here’s a question for you to mull over. In your opinion, what holds business back the most? Got any theories? Because I have one, and whilst you might not agree with me, I’m going to try and bring you around to my way of thinking. I think the single biggest barrier in business is stubbornness.

We see so many businesses every day, both through our general day to day lives, as well as those that come through our doors, and a recurring theme is people being reluctant to move to new practices because "That’s just not the way we do things". Sometimes there’s a bit more to it than that – bringing your technology up to date can be an expensive process, especially if you’ve got behind the eight ball, but more often than not, people just seem to believe that something that’s always brought them success before will continue to pay off. Sure, for some businesses that old-fashioned approach can pay off, but for many, a refusal to embrace the new can spell disaster.

In the big picture, it’s simple evolution at work. At one point, we found our dinner by picking it from the bushes or hitting it over the head with a club. That was the best we had. But that doesn’t mean we should’ve stuck with it. Sure, we can look to take successful elements of the past, but combining them with new knowledge to improve them isn’t just business fundament, it’s life.

And how we get our dinner is a good case study for how this ties in with customer data in particular. Let’s take buying vegetables. Back in the past, a greengrocer was a staple on the high street. You’d wander down to get your essentials that would be stocked abundantly, and be greeted by the same familiar face. You might find one or two new things on the shelves, but in general, it was the same things, week in, week out, with some obvious allowances made for seasonality.

Why? Because it was likely to be the one place people would go. People would accept just getting the staples, because that’s what they were used to. If something was out of stock, they’d accept that as one of those things. And the greengrocer could stock the staples plentifully, and maybe try a couple of new products without concern, because the margins were high enough that they could afford to take a bit of a chance. It didn’t matter if you got it a bit wrong, you’d do your best with what you’d picked up on from the shop floor.

Bring it forward to the present day, and that’s all change. The rise of the supermarket, with their greater range and convenience, and therefore their ability to lessen their individual product margins, means that all food merchants have had to bring their own prices down to compete. The luxury of being able to have a punt has gone.

Additionally, with the rise of the Internet, everyone knows that they have access to anything they could possibly want at great speed. If you’re not stocking what your customer wants, they’ll just move onto the next shop.

So? What’s the solution? Improving data handling. If you can keep highly accurate and easy to understand data on what your customers are buying, when they’re buying it and how they’re paying for it, then you can gain the edge over your competitors in no time at all. Let’s continue with the vegetables. Say you’ve noticed over a 3-year period, that in April, people go nuts for leeks. Placing a big advance order for leeks means you’ll have what your competitor won’t. In turn, if you have multiple stores, you can then break down whether the north or south of the town have a bigger penchant for the alliums, and direct your supply accordingly. And then perhaps this year, you notice that most of the orders are coming from online. So perhaps next year, you can keep a few more in the warehouse, and a few less on the shop floor. Making room for the watercress that’s just come into season and sold a treat in the stores this year!

Obviously, this is something that we think we, and our Business Data Toolkit can help you with, whether it’s vegetables, fashion, car parts, or anything else besides. But beyond that, view this as a friendly nudge to have a look over your current practices, and make sure that it’s not stubbornness that’s holding YOU back.

As usual, please get in touch with any thoughts and questions. Someone on the team is bound to be able to help gladly.

Until next time,

Zarte