Growth is an ever-present goal for small business owners, but it’s never without risk.
One way to minimise risk is to be armed with relevant data before making investment decisions. But data without insight is useless.
Matthew Hwang, Head of Marketing for Australia’s largest retailer of smartphone accessories and repairs company Happytel, told Business Insider about some of the key ways they’re using data to grow their business.
“One of the first things I learned about marketing is that you should never be using the phrase ‘I think’ or ‘I feel’ when predicting what’s going to happen.
“All your decisions have to be made with data, but it’s not just about having data, it’s about being able to interpret that data and understand it.”
Happytel uses the Commonwealth Bank’s Daily IQ, a free business insights toolkit available to business customers through their online banking.
Daily IQ uses transaction and industry data to build insights for businesses on cashflow and performance, but the most useful insights are on customers.
If you’re looking to grow your business in 2018, these five insights on your customers are critical:
Who they are
The concept of knowing who your customers are is not new, it was all the rage for door-to-door salesmen in the 1970s. But the level of data now available to small businesses is unprecedented.
Daily IQ data can tell users their customer demographics, location, whether they’re new or repeat customers and their spending patterns. Businesses can also use other platforms, such as their social media accounts, to add to the picture and build greater customer loyalty.
“Actual customer data gives us an idea how to tailor our operations to ensure that we’re making the most of the customer’s experience and providing the right solutions across our 65 locations,” Hwang said.
“Just under 50% of our transactions are repeat customers. That’s a pretty sizable number for us.”
What they buy and why
Hwang said they’d be fools to ignore the current anxiety in the market about Amazon coming to Australia, but they believe customer service and in-store experience will be the big point of difference.
“If you look at successful retailers and what they’re moving towards, it’s about creating an experience that can’t be mimicked online.”
Hwang says all Happytel staff are trained to focus on solving problems for customers and ensuring they can get the most out of their smartphone, rather than focusing on the transaction alone.
“A lot of people think they know what they need because they’ve read about it online, but this item might not actually right for them. This is where our specialists can add real value,” he said.
“So we [encourage customers] to come into our store so we can make a recommendation based on working through their specific needs, and this has really increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.”
Where they are
Location is an incredibly important factor to consider when launching a new store.
“We take into consideration market demand and market conditions. Daily IQ gives us a national benchmark or a state-wide benchmark, so we have an idea of what to expect and what to look for in new store locations,” Hwang said.
For the online world, this also impacts on how you communicate with your customers. Social media marketing expert Jeff Bullas say it’s important to customise your content and ensure it’s accessible to customers in the format they are looking for, and where they’re looking. For example, if your customers are on Facebook, that’s where you should focus your marketing efforts.
The hours they shop
Staff are an important asset for businesses that rely on customers walking in off the street. But to get staffing right, you need data that can help project peaks and troughs.
“Not all locations are like Sydney, which we know will typically be busy on Thursday afternoons and Saturday morning,” said Hwang.
“Actually being able to pinpoint specific times allows us to get the right staff on at the right time to provide the customer experience that differentiates us from our competitors online. This includes ensuring assistance is available for customers during peak times, or rostering less staff during quiet times to reduce costs.
“While this is relatively simple, small businesses need to make the most out of these opportunities.”
Trends they love
It’s not easy to predict trends, but with historical data, you can at least prepare for the anticipated response to trends.
For Happytel, a new phone launch from Samsung or Apple always brings a spike in transactions as people rush to get the latest accessories and support, but without knowing in advance when this can happen, they rely on data to respond.
“We’ve been operating for 22 years, but to prepare we also look at past performance, market research on demand, the number of transactions [in the year before], the average price people were paying and how long the spike will last for.”
One such trend was a move to more wireless headphones after Apple removed the headphone jack on last year’s iPhone.
Hwang said his team leveraged data on this trend from Daily IQ to justify investing in diversifying their product range.
Customer segmentation insights showed most of their customers who bought new phone cases and screen protectors were also likely to invest in mobile accessories such as Bluetooth headphones – and that insight was used to increase those sales.
“We trialled it within our stores, it went really well, and so we were able to continue growing while pivoting slightly thanks to the data,” Hwang said.
“We’re a nimble team and Daily IQ simplifies the process for us. It really helps us understand the data that we need to make decisions.”
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