How informed are you?

Busy business owners may neglect to look at statistics, analytics or data that isn’t compulsory for accounting purposes, but these figures often reveal useful trends and provide actionable insights.

Rather than simply going with hunches and perceived trends, which may have a biased interpretation, it is worth knowing what is happening through figures that represent the facts.

For businesses that have a website one of the most popular and free ways to gain insight, is to look at Google Analytics. This enables you to check the pages which are being visited the most and for how long, as well as where visitors flow to i.e. the order of the pages your website visitors click on. This can reveal a lot of information about your website as well as your customer.

However, some businesses, especially those in retail, are more dependent on drop-in customers and spontaneous purchases than generating sales from a website, but even these need data.

Bricks and mortar businesses need data too

Bricks and mortar businesses are increasingly having to compete with online businesses, so any information which helps to identify shopper trends and behaviours creates an advantage.

Instead of using website statistics bricks and mortar businesses will need to look at receipts and understand the peaks and troughs of the business on a weekly, daily or ideally even on an hourly basis. If that analysis can be automatically delivered through a payment gateway, such as using NetPay’s Revolution, this makes for a quick and efficient process. If the process can’t be automated, the exercise is still worth doing based on the insights gained.

For businesses influenced by the weather or particularly seasonal trends it can be worth taking note of anything that may have influenced sales, or lack of them. The impact of weather, activities nearby and so forth all can play their part on sales. Any time that a client experiences a peak or trough in sales having the additional qualitative information helps to contextualise the results, especially if you are contrasting months or year on year figures. Was it an exceptionally wet day? Was there important local events or sports matches taking place, which doesn’t occur every year on the same date? If they aren’t recorded they can be easily forgotten about and so the data to hand may be misinterpreted.

Understand customer behaviour and react on the data

Being able to understand a customer’s motivation for their purchase and buying needs when making their choice is a competitive advantage. Gaining that type of insight and responding to it with the appropriate offering(s) will encourage a customer to spend more and ideally return.

In the current climate, businesses need to be flexible and able to react quickly to changes in demand and trends. If a client is waiting for a monthly statement to come through to gain valuable insight they may have already missed the window of opportunity to capitalise. A business needs to try and look at the data regularly.

Business owners need to check out the trends, understand the breakdown between new and repeat customers, which days are busier, what times are slower as well as the value of your average transaction (the amounts of purchases per visit per card).

Having a deep level of knowledge of customer behaviour will help a business owner to allocate resources such as marketing, staff and stock more effectively. The effect of promotions will become more visible and know which ones to repeat or why some failed.

In today’s instant, on-demand world; smart business owners stay informed and can react quickly to opportunities as they arise. Having the data at their fingertips and using a range of sources to make fully informed decisions will ultimately help the bottom line.

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