The uptake of digital marketplace technology occurred at an extraordinary rate as the COVID-19 crisis spread in March and April. For many, it was the first move into an online sales approach, a case of adapt or perish.
The rapid-response digital actions allowed business owners to continue trading during lockdowns as they welcomed customers or clients through virtual doors for the first time.
But businesses that hastily created a website for online sales and to facilitate product delivery in the scramble to survive often haven’t given it much thought beyond that, and there was no long-term strategic plan attached.
For those businesses, it’s time to consider some important questions such as: what is my customer’s digital experience like? How well do I really know my clients, their habits and preferences?
The newly-minted technology now at your disposal is more than just a channel for click-and-collect. It’s a tool for capturing the rich data that is generated through online interactions.
How you analyse and leverage the insights from this data can be the difference between a strong rebound from the crisis or just hanging on.
Aspects to consider when it comes to collecting data include:
- How will the data be captured?
- Where will it be stored?
- What tools will be used to analyse it?
- What will you do with the insights?
The businesses that have performed strongly coming out of the COVID-19 induced slump are the ones that have mined this information and built personalised interactions that capture what their customer wants. The best digital offerings are those that are tailored to the individual.
It’s also easier to pinpoint a problem with rich data harnessed from online purchase behaviour, customer loyalty programs and other areas. Without it, it’s simply guesswork as to why a campaign isn’t cutting through or why a product has dropped off the radar.
But before business owners dive headlong into the world of data, there are traps for new players.
Without sound professional advice, an organisation might rush out and put one data analyst into the business and think all their problems will be solved.
But will that person also have the skills of a data engineer to understand where the information is coming from, as well as the ability to employ more advanced analytics and modelling that a data science team can provide? Do they then have commercial understanding of the business problem and can turn it into value for the business?
It’s very rare that one person comes equipped with the entire skill set a business requires.
By investing more time in their existing customer base, businesses can increase website traffic and improve the customer experience for new and existing clients.
Strong businesses are using data to outperform their competitors in the short-term and create a longer-term strategic advantage.
Used wisely, data is a very powerful tool to grow a business.
Sudha Viswanathan is the director of analytics and insights at Pitcher Partners, an association of independent accounting and business advisory firms located in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth and Sydney.