Collecting sales data and becoming a rock star

April 27, 2015

Companies should invest in technology that makes data collection easier. 

In the his popular book Outliers, writer Malcolm Gladwell postulated that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery of a craft or vocation. Gladwell described the experience of the Beatles in Germany as an example of people devoting themselves to their work and using gained experience to excel. In business, the same is clearly true. Today, companies that have been in operation for a long time have valuable knowledge that only comes from being around and seeing it all.

Gaining a competitive advantage by mining the data
For companies looking to grow quickly, there are ways to speed up the process of learning in order to gain a competitive advantage. A business that has been in operation for only a few years can analyze sales data, examine consumer behavior patterns and tailor its services to meet the needs of the market. According to CMS Wire, in the U.S. last quarter, online sales rose grew by 14.6 percent to $79.6 billion dollars. Online sales accounted for 6.7 percent of total U.S. retail sales. The growth in e-commerce activity was attributed to faster online checkout flows, proliferation of mobile devices and improved fulfillment practices. In other words, especially concerning the last point, companies learned how to better serve their clients. They were able to do this by mining data from sales platforms and acting on the insight derived. 

Data is necessary for mastery in the craft of business
The success of social media companies like Facebook proves that data is like gold. ValueWalk explained that Facebook monetizes personal information and earns most of its income from advertising revenue. As such, companies choose to market their products on social media platforms because there are consumers there. Additionally, Facebook uses targeted advertising, made possible because of the vast amount of consumer information already on the platform.

Facebook is essentially one giant pool of customer information. Users on the platform enter information about themselves, list which retailers they purchase from and mention places they like to go. Facebook leverages this pool of data and is able to deliver relevant ads to its users. The example of Facebook is relevant because it shows that information can help a business in any industry. The social media company does not sell products, just online space, but the results are the same. Taking a deeper look at its own operations, a company will realize that, similar to Facebook, it also likely houses a treasure trove of helpful information. 

Invest in technology that makes data collection possible
In 1960, the Beatles went to Germany and played their music in local clubs. They were not very good and by all accounts the acoustics were terrible. The audiences did not respond to them. However, the Beatles spent considerable time playing music nonetheless. The band grew in skill, and in 1964, they burst onto the international scene.

Fortunately for companies looking to excel in their respective fields, they do not have to go to Germany and play terrible music as they likely already have a repository of sales data. The first step for them is to use software to analyze that data and make important decisions. The next logical move is for companies to invest in equipment and solutions that make data collection easier. Installing point of sale devices that are compatible with NFC and mobile payment products, as well as deploying e-commerce platforms that facilitate the analysis of purchasing patterns, will give companies the ability to behave like seasoned veterans in their industry segments. Business 2 Community noted that for companies looking to market their products, creating the right content to entice customers necessitates a reliance on data. This is why the collection of data across many different social and digital channels is advantageous.

Data can make all the difference
Of course, when the Beatles moved from Germany to the U.K., they did not leave their guitars and drum kits behind. Companies that want to spruce up their marketing efforts do not have to abandon their previous campaigns or throw out their preexisting materials. Simply using the information collected from point of sale devices and sales platforms will allow businesses to shape their marketing efforts going forward. Data security expert Bruce Schneier discussed how Facebook works closely with data brokers. The social media company’s use of data is what ultimately makes it successful, noted ValueWalk.

“[Data brokers] collect demographic information: names, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, gender, age, marital status, presence and ages of children in household, education level, profession, income level, political affiliation, cars driven and information about homes and other property,” said Schneier, according to the media outlet. “They collect lists of things you’ve purchased, when you’ve purchased them and how you paid for them. They keep track of deaths, divorces and diseases in your family. They collect everything about what you do on the Internet.”

What could your business do with this kind of valuable information?  

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