Data pieces, customer love and understanding
Get to know your customers, get more sales. Sounds simple enough, no? Yet the prospect of using ‘business intelligence’ or BI tools is enough to send most small and medium-sized eTailers screaming for simplictiy…and for good reason.
Many of the self-proclaimed tools out there are ridiculously complicated and expensive. Take a look at Omniture’s SiteCatalyst solution for example. It’s one of the leading BI solutions for large retailers and is a preferred Amazon partner.
SiteCatalyst provides (taken directly from site):
- Real-time data to make timely decisions
- A quick snapshot of the key performance indicators (KPIs) for your online efforts in a reader-friendly dashboard
- Automatic alerts anytime a KPI moves to a dangerous or impressive level
- One place to measure, analyze and optimize all of your online and multi-channel initiatives
Any idea what your KPI is? Me neither. I want the company who holds a broader DB of info to set the benchmarks not me! Unless you have a massive customer base, years of history and a slew of tracked behavior and testing to model against, this type of solution is like fixing a scrape with invasive surgery. It’s overkill, wrapped in complexity, proffered by overzealous sales drones.
It just doesn’t work for a small operation. And the price alone is enough to choke a rational retailer… $5,000 sign-up fee PLUS @$600 per million page views. Give me a simple, affordable tool like Trendient any day, so I don’t have to spend $10,000 a year to test assumptions!
BI works. There’s no disputing it. Any and all information about customers (as long as it’s statistically significant) will help conversions and sales. According to an Aberdeen Group study that studied 200 large companies, almost 70% were already using BI tools and 26% had plans to adopt some kind of solution shortly.
Yet, another study by Forrester Research said that 73% of employees at large companies using complex solutions like Omniture and NedStat have no idea what they’re looking at. The analytics reporting and dashboard features are so overwhelming that employee training and reference manuals are required.
One point I do want to be clear on is that BI is not a single reporting or analytics application applied to a specific set of data. Instead, it’s loosely defined as information that can monitor, reveal info or improve multiple parts of the business. For example, by understanding the seasonality of your business based on order history, you can plan inventory and SEM buys more efficiently.
Another key finding in the same report, that applies to smaller online merchants in particular is the value of hyoper-reactive customer service. This goes beyond just being responsive and biting your tongue while an irate customer rants, but includes following up and staying in contact. The same goes for your entire customer base for that matter. There’s no better way to build lifetime value and repeat sales then rewarding customers who have purchased from you in the past.