Nowadays, retailers have access to a seemingly endless stream of data on everything from shopping behaviour to website performance, to competitive intelligence. But it’s not the amount of data that’s important; it’s what retailers do with it that matters most.
Data for data’s sake is meaningless. Retail teams must have the skills and knowledge to gather quality data, interpret it and act upon the insights. As a recent MarTech Today article rightly puts it: ‘If every data point doesn’t track to a business goal, the numbers can easily jumble into chaos and obstruct decision-making.’
The writer, Steve Tutelman, examines the current state of people-data relationships, arguing that we regularly lack strategies for using data, meaning we end up tracking information that isn’t linked to business aims.
Tutelman says that today’s data-driven environment requires us to challenge our relationship with data and shift our attitude towards it in three ways:
1. Resist the urge to track data for data’s sake
As mentioned, data for data’s sake is worthless. Businesses long believed that garnering as much data as possible would help them better predict customer behaviour and personalise engagement. Yet, this resulted in a ‘data deluge’ and customer backlash surrounding data collection.
Today’s marketing relies on an appreciation for strategy and minimalism; define your goals, then set out a plan for harnessing data to meet those goals. As Tutelman states, ‘[your] marketing and business objectives should dictate the data you collect, [analyse] and act upon – not the other way around.’
2. Think hybrid teams – not hybrid individuals
We’re currently seeing workforce dynamics change to prioritise broader skill sets and ranges of experience over narrower ones. This shift has led to some brands believing every individual on a team should be similarly skilled in data, analytics and other marketing activities involving creativity and communication, but this is the wrong approach.
Tutelman believes that demanding or building wide-ranging skills in one or more individuals can lead to them possessing a wide range of capabilities that lack significant depth. As retail continues on its omnichannel transformation journey, marketing team structures must follow suit. This involves creating new methods of hiring and working to fuse strong suits across analytics and creative.
Managers should look to prioritise one or two skill sets for all new hires. Then, when they’ve joined the team, they should foster the development of new skills through collaboration with other members in and outside of the marketing department.
3. Set up a cross-functional profitability centre
In today’s omnichannel landscape, teams must manage, analyse and share data across the business in a consistent way. Doing this allows stakeholders to utilise insights for their particular strategies and aims.
Data silos exist in many organisations and can stifle progress. So, retailers must strive to champion a silo breakdown by replacing silos with a cross-functional approach to data usage, which in turn will drive profitability. Each department should align goals and plans for data usage, meanwhile a strategy should be created to set out how functions work together on the cross-functional profitability team. Also, brands should define who is responsible for making decisions, and the roles other employees play in this process.
As Tutelman concludes, data – and the humans who leverage it – is the difference between failing and competing in today’s environment. We couldn’t agree more, and that’s why so many of our clients are looking for people with the skills and knowledge to interpret this data and turn it into actionable insights to propel their business forward. Take a look at our current vacancies today.