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Ecommerce business owners face many challenges. Whether you’re selling on Amazon or managing your own warehouse, understanding stock levels, pricing, and staffing can be difficult. Ecommerce business intelligence tools help brand owners make informed decisions based on the information they already have available to them.

Getting started with these tools can be intimidating. 

  • How can you turn the reams of raw data that you have in your server logs, social media dashboards, and ecommerce platforms into actionable insights? 
  • What questions should you be asking, and which data sources should you focus on? 
  • How do BI solutions differ from plain old spreadsheets or more traditional analytics solutions?

This article will answer these questions and more.

Combat Data Overload With Ecommerce Business Intelligence

The average ecommerce business has to deal with a lot of data. From website traffic logs to sales logs, social media marketing campaigns, keyword research, and more. The business intelligence marketplace is worth around $22.26 billion US dollars globally, thanks in part to its ability to help businesses combat that data overload.

If you haven’t studied data analytics, understanding how to process that data could be a challenge, let alone understanding how to convert that information about what happened in the past into something you can use in the future. 

BI software uses something called predictive analytics to convert the information collected by ecommerce stores into data visualizations and forecasting tools.

What BI Tools Can Do For Your Business

Some of the most common and useful applications of BI tools include:

  • Evaluating and refining marketing strategies.
  • Streamlining supply chains and inventory management.
  • Evaluating the user experience.
  • Increasing customer retention.
  • Informing pricing-related decisions.
  • Optimizing conversion funnels.
  • Implementing a marketing automation strategy.
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Make Better-Informed Decisions

Business intelligence helps you make better-informed decisions more quickly. Tools can process data in real-time, so you can see instantly how your social media campaigns are performing and whether consumer behavior has changed in any way. 

Given the fast-moving nature of the web and the way memes and trends spread so quickly, businesses that are using tools for analytics and automation enjoy several advantages. 

Real-time analysis can even help improve the efficiency of your business by making it possible to employ strategies such as just-in-time inventory management.

Protect Yourself From Fraud

One functionality of BI software that is often overlooked is fraud prevention. Identifying fraudulent transactions isn’t always easy, but it’s not practical for a business to manually review every purchase. BI tools take advantage of the power of big data to spot transactions that look unusual and flag those for further review.

It may not be possible to completely eliminate fraud. Still, by pulling together information from many different parts of the business, BI solutions make it easier to identify potential issues and also give business owners a better idea of how much fraud they’re exposed to each year.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

If you want to grow your ecommerce business, it’s important to streamline its operation as much as possible. From the marketing and customer service side to order fulfillment, finding ways to automate repetitive tasks is essential for growth.

Using analytics to process data in real-time can assist with marketing automation, and also put you in a better position to respond to changing customer attitudes and interests. 

According to research by McKinsey, business leaders spend around 40% of their time focused on making decisions. By automating certain areas of decision-making and having access to better information, you free more of your time for the things that matter most.

Integrating BI Tools With Your Ecommerce Platform

So, now you’re convinced that BI apps are a part of the future and you’ve started researching the various tools that are available to you, the next challenge is deciding which tools to use and how best to put them to use.

The business intelligence sector is huge today, but there are a few products that are more popular and well-known.

Tableau

Tableau stands out because it is both powerful and easy to use, with no programming or scripting skills required. It also integrates particularly well with platforms such as Salesforce, making it a good option for businesses that already have established workflows and data collection systems. You can generate custom reports that pull from the systems you and your team are already comfortable with.

Source: Tableau

Looker

Looker is a browser-based solution that can query the most popular databases and has its own simple query tool that allows users to simply “ask a question” as they would search for something on Google. This combination of flexibility and ease of use makes Looker an appealing choice for businesses looking for a flexible solution to data processing and analytics. If you’re a confident database administrator, of course, you can optimize your queries with LookML.

Source: Looker

Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft Power BI is a cloud solution that is highly regarded in the world of data visualization and predictive analytics. Small businesses can take advantage of the free desktop version of Power BI to explore the features of the tool and see if it could be useful to them. If they find they outgrow the storage and processing power limitations inherent in the desktop version, they have the option of upgrading to one of the subscription offerings to take advantage of the reporting, visualization, and analytics tools on a larger scale.

Source: Microsoft

Making The Most Of Ecommerce Business Intelligence

Once you’ve chosen a BI package, consider what you want to get out of it. These apps are very useful for processing raw data, but to use the information they produce, you have to ask the right questions.

Consider the sources you have access to and how you’ll feed your data warehouse. To ensure any reports you generate are accurate, each data source must be properly labeled, and you need a strong understanding of what each piece of data means.

For example, if you’re trying to improve the customer experience, it’s a good idea to try to remove duplicate or obsolete records before evaluating conversion rates, customer retention, and other similar metrics.

It’s also useful to consider who will be managing the data you’ll be using in your reports and who is responsible for using the BI tools. As with any new business initiative, getting key stakeholders on board early is essential. 

Business intelligence is more than just generating fancy-looking charts, and to get the best results out of your tools, they must be employed by someone who has a good understanding of the business needs and a clear road map for achieving them.

Analytics vs. Intelligence

Some people use the terms analytics and intelligence interchangeably. It’s true the two practices have a lot of overlap—they both use software tools to analyze current and past information. However, there are some key differences.

Analytics takes data and looks at why trends occurred. It attempts to uncover contributing factors and make predictions based on the data available.

In contrast, business intelligence identifies trends and tries to find patterns in the data available, so those patterns can be used to inform future decisions.

The industry is a rapidly moving one, and both analytics and intelligence have their place. If you run a website and would like to increase your traffic, reduce cart abandonment rates or boost sales, using a combination of analytics and business intelligence makes sense, as both practices can offer a competitive edge for your business.

Let Ecommerce Business Intelligence Software Inform Your Decision-Making

Whatever goals you have in mind, ecommerce business intelligence software can give you the insights you need to achieve them, from guiding your social media marketing efforts to streamlining inventory management or planning seasonal sales. The business insights you can get from BI software are invaluable.

If you’d like to know more about how to grow your ecommerce business using not just BI tools but also inventory management software and marketing automation software, join our mailing list today to get regular updates on the ecommerce industry.

Are you using BI software in your organization to inform business decisions? Which tools have you found the most helpful? Tweet your thoughts or leave a comment below to share your story.

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Francois Marchand
By Francois Marchand

Francois Marchand is passionate about helping and educating business leaders, ecommerce professionals, and digital marketers grow their skill sets to stay ahead of the competition. Francois holds a BA Specialization in Communication Studies & Journalism from Concordia University (Montreal, QC) and 20+ years of experience in ecommerce, marketing, traditional and digital media, and public relations, including The Vancouver Sun, National Post, CBC/Radio-Canada, Unbounce, and Vancouver Film School.