An important way to achieve greater retail success is to be more data-centric.
Relying on retail analytics and hard data rather than guesswork helps companies make more educated decisions about the products they carry.
They can dig into point of sale information across the entire enterprise and send the right mix of products to the stores best suited to sell them.
Understanding the customer helps retailers improve customer satisfaction and earn higher profits.
Data collection is ubiquitous.
Ecommerce shoppers understand their information is logged and stored with each transaction, even if anonymously.
Brick and mortar retailers collect data through cash registers and gather geographic information by entering ZIP codes.
The information that can be collected is varied, but at a minimum includes customer, transactional, inventory, and shipment data.
There's also data to be mined in social media, location and in-store movement.
Retailers have always needed to pay attention to what customers are thinking.
Whether the buzz is about a hot brand, a rising trend, or a celebrity endorsement, savvy retailers are in-the-know.
Today, much of that type of information is just a click away, on platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.
"Social listening" requires retailers to pay attention to what target customers are saying.
Many use social media monitoring services to analyze their audiences and identify product gaps in their offerings compared with competitors as well as with customer expectations.
As they say in real estate, "location, location, location."
Retailers looking to expand can use current-store data to inform decisions when selecting future sites.
By studying where target consumers visit most frequently and analyzing movement patterns around specific areas, retailers can take much of the guesswork out of expansion plans.
Incorporating demographic information and personas into location vetting provides insights into consumer behaviors, helping to ensure that the ultimate site selected will have the "right" customers nearby.
Geolocation has been used for several years by retailers who use the technology to alert nearby customers to promotions.
Today, location-tracking technology can monitor shoppers with pinpoint accuracy, allowing retailers to know, for example, if a customer went to the fitting room but didn't make a purchase, or which cosmetic counters were visited.
Sales of location-targeted advertising could reach $21 billion this year, according to CNBC.
However, it's not the quantity of the data collected that is most important, rather it's knowing how to digest and use it that counts.
Collecting and consolidating all of that data provides a powerful overview of every action customers have taken – on their mobile devices, on the website, or in a brick and mortar store.