The pandemic has clearly been pushing people to conduct more activities online. And with one survey showing that 62 percent of shoppers purchase more online now than they did before COVID-19 hit, this shift is likely to have staying power.
To secure the insights needed to drive revenue and remain competitive in an increasingly online world, retailers need to have a sound data strategy — one that enables you to get the full view of your customers and understand changes occurring within your market and organization.
Some companies may believe they don’t have the depth or breadth of data needed to make a significant impact on their approach to, and results from, e-commerce. However, nothing could be further from the truth. You don’t need to be the size of an Amazon.com or have the resources of a mega player to get game-changing value from your data. Not if you know how to effectively leverage what you have.
The first step to doing so? Tap into your cloud application data. Whether it be Salesforce, ServiceNow or another e-commerce application, these cloud apps are where business takes place. The data being produced in them touches the most critical facets of a business — from ordering and marketing to sales and customer relationship management (CRM) — and reveals important changes and patterns that can give you a huge leg up on the competition.
Here are three keys to getting better insights and value from your cloud app data:
1. Listen to the Right Data
Retailers have access to an enormous amount of data from applications, websites and more. So much so that it can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s so important to identify the data that can give you the best insights and, therefore, value.
For retailers, one of the best places to look is in a hyperconverged CRM app like Salesforce, where rich data on marketing, sales, e-commerce and customer service reside. By getting a 360-degree view of these datasets, an organization can see, for example, how well (or not) a marketing campaign drove traffic to its website and if that traffic resulted in sales, among other pertinent information.
These kinds of cause-and-effect insights can have a massive impact on what you sell, what you promote to whom, and how you conduct online commerce. They help you to be both more proactive and predictive, as well as more responsive and adaptive.
2. Back Up Data Regularly and Frequently
The danger in having so much critical cloud app data being generated and accessed by so many people in your company is that data can be easily and inadvertently destroyed or overwritten. And because many cloud app vendors either don’t back up your data for you or do so at a minimal level, you risk losing important information.
To protect against this, you must regularly back up your own data into your own infrastructure, such as your Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure environment. Most companies try to capture data at least once an hour to prevent major data loss. And that trend is moving toward being less than 15 minutes, according to ESG.
Capturing cloud app data at such a high frequency also enables organizations to look at data in smaller increments and get a truer picture of changes and trends that could impact the month-to-month, week-to-week or day-to-day operations of a business.
3. Optimize and Automate
Once an organization has identified the right data to look at and established a regular cadence for capturing it, you can automate data backup and can start to derive strategic business value and insights from it. Because granular, backed-up data resides in your own infrastructure, your e-commerce, marketing, sales, product and customer success teams don’t have to directly access your cloud app to get at the data for downstream re-use. This is hugely beneficial as it eliminates the need for using APIs, which have limits on usage, and avoids application performance hits that happen when too many people are in the app simultaneously.
By streaming that cloud app data from your own data lake into your other systems and business intelligence tools, you can analyze what has been, and is, happening at a granular level, predict what is likely to happen, and take appropriate actions.
For example, historical data changes could show:
- which products have high service orders, and which are being returned — and why;
- whether sales will stay steady or drop in the upcoming month;
- which digital ad campaigns resulted in the most online sales; and
- which customers are more at risk and how to improve retention.
When these questions are answered, retailers can start to optimize ad campaigns, websites and customer experiences to drive revenue and improve operations. You can even set “triggers” to automate processes, ensuring no time is wasted if something — like a digital campaign — is ineffective.
While thriving in a crowded e-commerce market can be quite challenging, it’s reassuring to know that your backed-up mission-critical cloud app data can provide much of what you need. By recording and learning from this valuable historical information, you can optimize your business and stay ahead of the curve.
Joe Gaska is the CEO of GRAX, a leading SaaS Data Value Platform.