What does big data mean for your small business?

July 27, 2015 - Tags: Managing Research and data

Your business is expanding and your customer base is growing. Are you tapping into all the data that your customers are providing you? There is an incredible amount of data being generated online through payment transactions, reviews, comments, website visits, social media, pictures, videos and even emoticons. Large companies are capturing data (often referred to as big data) on customer demographics, behaviours, attitudes and types of technologies they use to help them predict future trends and potentially increase their sales. How can your small business benefit from the data being generated by your own customers?

Step one:

  • Decide what problem you are trying to solve or goal you're trying to achieve (increasing your sales, managing inventory, solving client complaints, making business decisions, etc.)
  • Find the right analytics tool that fits both your budget and your needs. There are many tools available which can range from tracking your customer traffic to analyzing your social media engagement.

Step two:

Explore your analytics tool and set it up to generate the customized reports you need to help analyze your problem. Then track and monitor your reports regularly to see if any trends emerge.

Suppose your problem is managing your inventory. You could look at the data being produced to see if there are any emerging trends:

  • Are there times when your product is in greater demand? There may be a certain type of event or time of year that drives the need for your product or service.
  • Are there certain pages on your website which lead to customer purchases on a regular basis? Can other pages be adapted to increase sales?
  • When additional items are purchased during one transaction, is there a connection between them? Could they be marketed together?
  • Look at demographics — where are the majority of your customers located?
  • Social media comments and activity can help you determine your product's popularity, provide you with ideas for future versions or indicate if there is a potential problem

Step three:

Analyze and evaluate the data to help you determine:

  • When increases or decreases in demand could affect your inventory
  • If your shipping policy needs to be reviewed where there is a demand in certain geographical areas
  • If you should discontinue certain items and focus on others based on customer demand

Although analyzing data is not an exact science, it could help you better manage your business and stay competitive by predicting trends and the future needs of your customers.

Visit our page on Website analytics and performance management to learn more.

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