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Partner perspective: The value of data-led decision-making

Retailing online is becoming increasingly competitive as seasoned ecommerce giants invest heavily and gain greater market share each year. The landscape is changing at such a pace that there’s fast becoming little margin for error. Therefore, it’s more important than ever that the decisions ecommerce managers and marketers make are the right ones.

Growing through trial and error to learn the hard way is a costly way to do things, especially if a business has then to recover from bad decisions. In some cases, this can be so costly that a single bad decision could set a company back years or, even worse, send them into a downward spiral that they can never recover from.

This is why, in 2020, retailers should use a data-led decision-making process, not one driven by a hunch, the luck of the draw or a roll of the dice. In the coming years, it’s having access to deep-level industry data that will separate the winners from the losers.

Decisions should be formed by analysing the results of peers. For example, a task that should be simple, such as choosing which payment gateway(s) to use, can be complex. Many retailers will struggle to differentiate and make the right choice of platform for their unique set of circumstances. Considerations may include target audience, geographic territories, product range, average order value and more. Not all gateways are the same, each coming with its own strengths and weaknesses. So how is a retailer to choose?

Traditionally, a company would use trial and error, yet such an approach often leads to them getting it wrong. Choosing something as important as your feature stack should be something driven by big data.

At Visualsoft, we call this big data project ‘VS Insights’. We have access to data from more than $1bn transactions that go through the platform, from a variety of retail sectors. This allows us to spot key trends and make informed decisions and recommendations based on what will statistically give them the best chance of success.

We ultimately pass this insight onto our customers to help ease their decision-making process. In doing so, we save our clients both the time and the money which would have been wasted due to making a bad decision based on gut instinct.

One of the issues we find with larger retailers is that they often bring platform and marketing services in-house. While this can be great for control, it can also mean that these teams are isolated from big data decisions, since they only ever get to see a blinkered view of the landscape based on their own data.

Such an isolated view also makes evaluation difficult because businesses can struggle to benchmark against industry standards and progress – they have nothing to compare performance to other than themselves.

We often find that larger retailers value the industry insight they get from VS Insights, which can then be applied and delivered through their in-house teams. Being part of a larger community of data allows a business to benchmark and also make decisions based on things which are working for ‘lookalike’ retailers, who may sell to the same profile of customer base.

With all this in mind, using a data-led approach is a no-brainer, yet a business cannot simply rely on its own data set. Insights from an ecommerce partner that has context of the wider industry, your position in it and competitors will give you a more expansive view. It also allows you to take into account market changes and gives an accurate reflection of your growth.

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