Storefronts and stalls have been around since forever, and even now, one just has to walk around an old city centre to see stores that are hundreds of years old. Take Fortnum and Mason in London for example, founded in 1707 and still trading in the same building. Retail has not fundamentally changed much over the millennia.

However, since the emergence of the internet since the mid 90’s and the introduction of e-commerce stores such as Amazon and eBay, the retail industry has undergone its biggest overhaul yet. The physical world of try before you buy is rapidly decreasing, while the virtual world of buy, deliver and then send it back if you don’t like it is growing.

Amazon has recently posted an impressive annual revenue of $232.9 billion. Likewise, the average growth of sales of e-commerce was 24.5% annually since 2014.

According to the analysis of 500 high streets by accountancy specialists, 2,692 stores were shut between January and June. Just 1,569 started up – an all-time low, because of plunging confidence. Retailers are focusing more and more on online shopping.

Gone are the days where buses, trains and cars shipped shoppers to the highstreets and out of town shopping centres. Nowadays all kinds of delivery vehicles bring the products of the shops to us.

Useful data to retailers

As retail businesses are closing down their storefronts on the high street, they are focusing more and more on online sales. With this change, an influx of useful data to retailers emerges that must be stored and made good use of.

This flood of data to retailers presents them with a huge amount of power and opportunity to know who their customers are and likewise to gather data about them in order to inform future business decisions, but it also presents a big challenge. Whichever retail business falls behind in managing data will be beaten by its competition relentlessly.

When customers make an online order, they must fill out all kinds personal details like the delivery address. With this data, company’s can map where the majority of their customers are ordering from and optimize marketing campaigns accordingly based on location.

Perhaps a business notices that a lot of its sales are in inner city areas, they may choose to double down their marketing efforts in these areas or look for other cities in which their products may be suitable.

Likewise, knowing where your customers are based may help to optimize delivery routes so that customers get their products as quickly and efficiently as possible. It is important to be aware that these benefits are to no avail if customer data is incorrect or there are large amounts of duplicates in retailers CRM systems. Data sets that are either obtained incorrectly or managed the wrong way will lead to misinformed decisions, resulting into inefficient business processes and ultimately losses for the business. It is essential that with this uprooting of the retail industry, retailers start taking data management seriously.

Whilst there is a large opportunity for retailers who take their data management seriously, there is also a major risk if customer data is not managed correctly. The sanctions on companies who mismanage their customer data can be substantial. Likewise, in an increasingly competitive market, missing out on the benefits of effective data management may be the angel of death for retailers around the globe. In the modern society of online shopping, data management can make or break the success of a retail business.

Change is inevitable, however, it is businesses resilience and the ability to adapt to change that determines the ability not only to survive but to prosper.

Author: Martin Doyle

Source: DQ Global