What retail entrepreneur has never looked with some envy at the coming and going of customers at one of Zara’s locales? Have you ever wondered what Zara has done to be one of the most valuable brands in the world?
Whoever owns a store wants their business to go better. He wants to be more effective with the resources he has a to have a higher profit for what he does. In fact, he wants to optimize the results to the maximum without falling into complacency and relying on inertia.
Without a doubt, one of the key factors for the success of a business is to have knowledge of what is happening in it, and we can achieve with the visualization of objective data.
Actually, it is not an easy task for an entrepreneur to remove himself from the noise around him and get an objective view of everything that is happening in his business. No matter whether you are a multinational or small-family business, there will always be enough reasons to divert your attention to products or departments that are not generating significant profits if you do not have a well-targeted focus.
We may ask, “How do I create my road map? What tools do I have in order to get more out of my business?” It may be good, at this point, to see a success story.
Inditex is one of the fashion giants worldwide and surely has achieved this due to the fact that he knows his client very well and knows how to give him what he wants in a very short span of time. The firm can design produce and distribute an item anywhere in the world in about 15 days. To think that Mr. Amancio Ortega has achieved this only on the basis of intuition would, at least, be naive. The key has been to combine great efficiency in creating any piece of clothing with knowing what the customer really wants, and that’s data, lots of data.
Does this mean that if we can get data on what is happening in our business we will automatically be much better? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Obtaining such data is a good start, but there are many other factors that influence better decision making. Here are some key points to get valuable information from your data:
“No wind will be good for those who do not know which port their ship is headed to.”
Letters from Seneca to Lucilius, Letter LXXI
With the technology we have today almost everything can be accounted for and we can find ourselves immersed in a maze of numbers where we can get lost if we are not clear about the objective. Before you start getting data, you need to know what you need it for. Not all data is useful, so it is very important to know where to focus your efforts. To do this, you will need to know which areas of your business you need to improve. It is not the same to work to improve customer service as it is to develop a marketing campaign, although it may seem otherwise. Make a plan of action and interpret what data affects each specific area.
“Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks within, awakens.”
Once we know what we need the data for, it’s time to find it. You are probably already getting some valuable data and surely that would be the starting point. You probably have customer databases, access to behavioral profile of people who visit your website and billing data, etc. From here, you could carry out other types of actions such as recording the hours that your staff dedicates to replenishing products or making urgent orders because of lack of planning. The more information we have about what is happening in our business, the better results we will get from our analysis.
“The alchemists in their pursuit of gold discovered many other things of greater value.”
Now we have a lot of numbers and we know which parts of our business we want to improve. While you could say that we have not yet achieved anything, we have all the ingredients to start drawing conclusions. This is surely the most complicated part of the process since specific analytical skills may be required. Luckily, however, we have several tools that can be very useful to facilitate this task. Although with a simple Excel spreadsheet you can start discovering interesting things, you will be limited. Furthermore, more powerful tools such as Power BI from Microsoft greatly facilitate the visualization of this data, however it requires advanced technological skills on the part of the user. Other tools like BitPhy provide an automated predictive services so it will be very easy to find the points to improve on in your business without previous specific knowledge. It might surprise you to see what things you were doing wrong. Maybe even what you thought was beneficial really wasn’t!
“Any great idea is absolutely fascinating and absolutely useless until we decide to use it.”
We come to the most interesting point: converting data into action. In the end, all this process of searching and interpreting data culminates with the actions that we carry out in our businesses. That is why this information must be shared in a correct way with our team. We have to ensure that these ideas arising from the interpretation of our data will be taken into account in the decision making process in order to finally improve our business. This is the point where we will make the data more profitable for our business!