Chapter 9

Reporting, Analytics & Insights

Linking up all the data in an omnichannel business can be a challenge. This chapter focuses on the measurement and analytics of omnichannel workflows, how to put the systems in place for tracking and reporting, and how insight can lead to improvement in sales and reduction in overheads.

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By Chris Tanner & Derek O'Caroll

What's Inside

Linking up all the data in an omnichannel business can be a challenge.

Orders placed by the same person on different channels need to be connected for lifetime value reporting and returns management. Customers start their journey on one device, and finish on another. What used to be a simple calculation for cost of acquisition is now a tricky mix of data from various sources. What’s the best way to deal with it all?

This chapter focuses on the measurement and analytics of omnichannel workflows, how to put the systems in place for tracking and reporting, and how insight can lead to improvement in sales and reduction in overheads.

Reporting, analytics and insights

Our panel of retail experts discuss each chapter in detail with the authors of the Omnichannel Survival Guide

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75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, OR knows their purchase history. Source: Accenture

Modern retail allows customers to do their research in a physical store, and then later buy online. Or buy online for click-and-collect in a store. Or buy on Amazon for fulfilment via Third–Party Logistics (3PL) or drop-ship from supplier. Returns can come back into store or be mailed in to a central returns handling centre. When customers get in touch with you, they could use phone, email, text message, Facebook, Twitter or any combination of methods during a single sales cycle.

Measuring success across these different sales and communication channels is a challenge, especially as they all interact with each other. But it’s essential to measure what’s working and what’s not, so that you can put more time into the good stuff and pull the plug on the bad stuff.

Say you do some local marketing for your physical store. You get a visitor that browses your shelves, and then they later purchase online, finding your shop on Google. In an ideal world that purchase is recorded against the store’s marketing efforts, but many merchants just see the online visitor as coming from a search engine, and the revenue is not linked to the actual marketing spend.

Or maybe you spend some money to build a link between your customer service software and your order processing software. The idea is that support staff will be able to find information more easily and provide better customer service. But then you change your helpdesk software and the link stops working. In order to decide whether it’s worth investing in a link with the new software, you need to know how much time the original link saved, and whether it actually made any difference to customer experience.

These are just a couple of examples of reporting and measurement challenges in a modern retail business. Let’s take a deeper look into why you’d want to spend time reporting in the first place. It can take a lot of time and effort to produce useful numbers on a regular basis, so you need to know your goals.

We can categorise reporting and analysis into three broad areas:

  • Legislative: Reports you have to produce for someone else, such as tax for the government or state.
  • Comparative: Reports to help you make decisions, such as where to spend your budget. This is usually (but not always) marketing or sales-generation budget. Should you put more money into Google or Bing paid search? These kinds of reports compare one segment of data with another; such as the Bing ‘cost of acquisition’ against the same from Google.
  • Performance improvement: Measurements that help you make changes within the business, such as changing layout of inventory, or switching shipping services, or changing the checkout flow on your website. This data can be used to tell you which levers you can pull, and, when you pull them, whether you should keep them there, or whether you should back off and try something else.

It’s clear that being able to make the right decisions, fast, is the key to survival and success in today’s omnichannel retail landscape. Data sooner means decisions faster. Rich, accurate data means the right decision – ahead of your competitors. But, how do you accomplish that?

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