December 1, 2015

By Stephanie Braun

Instincts can save lives, but they can also cause trouble. When it comes to making decisions about your business, leave basic instincts to the animals.

“While having an intimate relationship with your business can help make decisions on gut feeling or instinct, it’s not enough when many big box stores today have automated systems to keep their bottom lines in check,” said Raff Paquin, director of data science at Lightspeed POS. “Having good instinct is an asset, but merchants need data for successful retail planning.”

Data is information providing insight into a business. It comes in many forms and can emanate from three sources: internally generated from the point of sale, such as sale totals; manually collected, like customer contact information; and externally derived from reports sourced or purchased from suppliers, like demographics. Major companies use data to identify opportunities and target audiences. Small retailers can too.

Paquin believes retailers can use data to improve two major areas: attracting and managing customer relationships and streamlining operations.

“Data collected from customers helps retailers personalize customer service and promotions,” Paquin said. “It’s easy to target campaigns if you know customers’ pets and favorite brands.”

Customer data can also be used to uncover groups to target. With customers’ workplace email addresses, you may contact people working at banks, media outlets or specific companies with deals or event invitations geared to their interests. Data from a census or postal service can also help you find where to send direct mail.

“Data is also great for managing inventory and forecasting sales,” Paquin said. “Without it, how can you tell which product typically sits on the shelf for longer periods of time? How can you tell which brands have the highest sell-through and how often to reorder certain products?”

Big box retailers use data from automated systems to decide when to apply discounts to slow moving items and when to order from vendors. Smart independent retailers do this too, and in the pet industry, many merchants are investing in this technology.

Having an automated point of sale is just the first step. Essentially, data equals opportunity. Powerful aggregated information can help create marketing campaigns and improve your sales.

To learn how to use data to make changes to your business, download a free guide at: http://www.lightspeedpos.com/white-papers/putting-your-data-to-work/

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