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Three ways to turn your retail data into profit

JY Pook, Asia-Pacific Vice President at Tableau Software | March 2, 2015
Retailers that are looking to continue to remain competitive need fast, complete self-service analytics, the sooner the better.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Retail businesses are tapping into technology to transform their businesses and stay ahead of the competition. These days, it is about offering a unique, omni-channel experience, catering to social lifestyle shopping, and allowing seamless transactions using smart or mobile wallets.[1]

Retailers have to make quick and informed decisions to maximise profits and avoid potential setbacks, and only the smart use of data allows them to do that. Many retail businesses are turning to data analytics to gain insights into their business operations, learn about their customers, and better take advantage of market trends.

From point of sale (POS) information to comments on social media websites, inventory data to loyalty programs, retailers gather and store relevant information needed to customise and build preferred customer experiences and interactions.

To drive actual, actionable insights from data, retailers have to properly understand and interpret their data. JY Pook, Asia-Pacific Vice President at Tableau, offers three simple steps that can help retailers gain insights into their businesses and deliver a truly integrated, multichannel retail experience.

1)    Put the data in the hands of business experts
Management teams of successful retailer businesses plan their companies' direction based on data analysis and market information. They also hire subject matter experts-from marketing specialists to supply chain consultants-to help determine the next course of action for their companies.

These experts often do not have the skills or the time to operate traditional business intelligence tools. Most of the time, they use reports derived from data that is crunched by analysts or data scientists from the IT department. The problem is that generating these reports requires time. If the retail market moves so quickly, would these reports still be relevant when they arrive?

One way to get around this is to empower business experts with the data they need. Retailers need business intelligence solutions that allow business users to access and visualize their data in intuitive, easy-to-understand ways. They need business intelligence tools that are fast to adopt and easy to use. These tools should help business users do their job better and not burden them with an added chore.

The key is for business users to access and work with current data so that decisions can be made as close to real time as possible. Waiting for reports to be generated by another department slows down responses in an industry that continues to accelerate.

2)    Enable insight at the speed of retail
Customers these days expect fast and personalized services. Many do not have much loyalty and will switch to a competitor if they do not get a satisfying shopping experience. This is especially true for online shoppers, as hopping to another e-commerce site is a matter of a few mouse clicks.


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