Data analysis – how does it help in retail?

26.02.2021 Mateusz Rabiega
person does data analysis in a notebook

E-commerce is a dynamically developing industry, especially in the B2C sector, which is linked with the retail customer service. It happens so, because of a few reasons. However, the unprecedented meaning of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed some things in the e-Commerce industry. The pandemic has affected digitalisation of businesses and the way e-trade operates as a whole. It’s understandable that coronavirus and connected restrictions have increased the interest of the customers and convinced many to reconsider doing shopping online. What’s more, the current pandemic situation has increased online shopping traffic, causing businesses to adapt to new demands of the constantly in-flowing customers.

However, not all the online stores have noted such increases, but only those that had been prepared. These preparations concern not just the products for sale, but also arrangements for new expectations of customers and accurate marketing strategies. How did the retail sellers know, what steps should be taken? Thanks to data analysis concerning the customers: their attitudes and preferences. It’s the data analysis that has allowed them to draw the best conclusions for the future of e-Commerce and develop e-businesses. Find out what data analysis is really about and how can you utilise it in your business!

Online analytics

First of all, it is worth mentioning that online analytics is a continuous process, not a one-time chore that you can afford to skip. It is about online users data-gathering, their further analysis and providing hints and suggestions about changes to the website – all calculated for achieving the pre-supposed business targets.

With the help of analytics tools you are able to find out what marketing strategies you’ve employed turned out to be effective, which ones require further corrections, and which should be abandoned or implemented anew. After having carried out such systematic verifications you are able to implement the necessary changes and improvements on the go, becoming more attractive to the new customers and increasing the profits at the same time. 

Why is it worthwhile to use online analytics?

What makes the customers desire to do shopping at your e-store? To determine this, you cannot rely only on guesses, not even on the high-quality selection of products. For answering this question, it is necessary to understand what exactly encourages the customers. You will obtain this knowledge by tracking and analysing the interaction patterns between customers and your e-store. They are the utilities that are going to show you what are the preferences and expectations of current buyers. What’s more, tracking and analysing will help you draw conclusions for the future strategies, the right marketing campaign direction and development of your offer.

Remember nonetheless, that data analysis process undergoes differently for each store, and poses unique challenges, as well. Not all the customers think the same, do they? Most of the time, depending on the industry, the customers will look at the products differently and their decision-making process will differ, too. Some part of the data you’ll gather is going to be universal, for example: gender or age. However, you will have to carefully verify if a given type of data is universal.

Diverse communication

Consider that when selling your products, you do not have to advertise them in the same way and to the same target audience. It’s rewarding if you divide your customers into different groups and adapt the marketing messages for each one of them. The same goes when you have goods that won’t meet are not desirable to all your customers. Communicate them to those who may wish to purchase them. For example, a vegetarian will not be interested in a roasted chicken advertisement. There is no point in showing them this offer, because there will be no return of investment. These types of actions are only going to deplete your marketing budget and add extra costs. Utilise personalised channels of communication!

Up-to-date analyses

What else can online analytics offer to you? Let’s go back to the example from the beginning – we mentioned that not every company has noted an increase in results during the COVID-19 pandemic, whereas a large number of e-stores has. Why did it happen? The successful enterprises haven’t operated blindly. Thanks to the analyses carried out on an ongoing basis the companies were able to follow the trends and estimate what changes were going to be necessary in order to increase business results. They were able to leave the competition behind and predict the customers’ behaviour on the basis of the data gathered in the past. Not everyone has managed to succeed completely at it. Parts of the predictive data had turned out to be outdated in the face of a crisis and changes to the client’s behaviour caused by the lockdown. Nevertheless, constant observation, tracking the users, and analysing have certainly helped a great part of e-stores in adapting to the new situation. 

Data management – how to do it properly?

Remember that conducting data analysis on customers isn’t art for art’s sake. This process should have a particular target that is motivated by the pursuit of increased profits. Define what do you care about the most in your business, what do you want to improve and gather data linked to these things. You don’t have to accumulate all the information out there. Too much of them will overwhelm you and hinder your progress and will not achieve the key targets. You cannot operate on spec, either. Analysing random pieces of data is probably going to bring no conclusions worth employing.

If you don’t know how to configure analytics tools, which ones are good for you, how to conduct analysis and how to draw conclusions – consider getting help from the outside.

There are plenty of companies which offer such analytical services that can send a specialist to you to conduct the process or train your workers to carry out the operations. Remember that funds spent on analytics are going to bring a return of the investment.

What tools are needed for data analysis in e-commerce?

There are numerous analytical programs available on the market. We don’t have to use them all, of course. Some of them are free, like Google Analytics. This tool allows to analyse traffic on-site: provides data about rises and decreases in users numbers. It will show which subpages are most popular and which ones require refinements. With Google Analytics you will know who your website visitors are and how they reach your store. You are also going to be able to check the success rates of your advertising campaigns and e-PR operations.

Google Search Console

Another very popular tool for data analysis is Google Search Console. It is crucial during operations aimed at search engine optimization. It allows you to automatically index your website and provides information about incorrectnesses on the go. The Google Search Console shows you which subpages get the most views and click-throughs, which will enable you to know the users’ preferences about products in your e-store. 

Google Trends

The third free tool for data analysis by Google is Google Trends. It is an app for all traders, who wish to know the periods of peak interests of their products by analysing when they are most frequently searched in the browsers. Thanks to Google Trends you will carry out keywords and actual trends analysis, so as to come up with a strategy and plan out marketing campaigns in the most optimal time for your store. 


Apart from Google-provided tools you may find it necessary to employ other programs for analysing data about the users’ behaviour. For example, HotJar app will allow you to create a map of clicks on-site or record the user’s cursor movement. This will aid you in analysis of their shopping path.

CrazyEGG and Yandex Metrica

If you don’t want to use HotJar, Crazy EGG might be an alternative solution. It’s an app that helps to track traffic and users’ behaviour. It presents the data in the form of a thermal map showing the “hottest” clicks on your website. On the other hand, if you wish to get more scrutinised data analysis that shows the users’ movement sources, time spent on-site, or the ratio of conversion and includes a heat map of the customer’s movement, the right solution for you is Yandex Metrica. 

When does it pay to be careful?

A large portion of the retail sellers has adjusted their running in the wake of the global pandemic. This concerns the industries that had not had to rely upon their own distribution channels. Some of them had intended to introduce multichannel strategy and offer the goods through many different channels. On the other hand, a different group had decided to make a full shift to outsourcing, as to skip logistical obstacles between them and the customers.

An example of such proceedings is the use of services of Wolt and UberEats. The services these companies provide are incredibly comfortable for the user and offer solutions suited for their needs. However, looking at them from the analytical perspective, the services are hugely restricting on the efficiency of the company. Why? When the customer uses the app or the website, the seller receives just the data about the transaction process: the cart’s content and the order’s date and hour. The seller does not have access to any other useful data about the customer. To summarise – the seller is not going to get information about who the customer is, is he a new customer, does he visit the website or the app regularly, is he a loyalty program member, etc. This is actually a huge loss and a big obstacle for the development of the enterprise.

The future of your business with online analytics

If you’re thinking about whether it’s worth investing in an analytical process, if the next crisis – just like coronavirus – can alter the sales model and customer service altogether, remember that currently it is the most effective way to conduct a business. Even though the initial data gathering and analysis is not going to bring spectacular results in sales, it will surely work in the long-term. It’s not said that the world of business is going to always use the current analytical methods and that data gathering is going to work endlessly. However, if you care about here and now of your business, the path of development is obvious – it leads right through the online analytics.

With appropriate customer data, you will be able to test your solutions more quickly and introduce refinements, fresh offers and adjust your stores to your target audience. Thanks to precise information about your customers’ habits and preferences, you are going to know how to stronger personalise the shopping process and improve your customer experience. 

Data analysis helps to run a business

Every type of attempt and tests are going to be much easier for you to execute, because you will have the current knowledge of what works smoothly in your business and which parts require honing. Even if it turns out that you completely missed the point with the introduced solution, it won’t mean you lost, because of the speed with which you’ll know what doesn’t work for you customers and how to right your wrongs. What’s more, sometimes data analysis of your customers is the only process that can save you from a bad situation. 

Such a situation could be a moment when the seller using the online analytics rejects a solution that they were considering for a long time. Let’s say that the seller thinks about implementation of automatic product-scanning during the visit in an offline store and paying for the products in a mobile app (this type of technology is employed by, for example, Rossman). However, thanks to the customers’ behaviour analysis he finds out that just a small percentage of the whole target audience would be interested in this kind of payment method, as a large group of people using the offline store doesn’t use mobile phones or does shopping via desktop computers. With that in mind, introducing such a function is not profitable for the company. Thanks to data analysis the hypothetical seller knows that beforehand.

As you can see, implementing analytical solutions has many advantages, which mostly outweigh the disadvantages. The future of business must be planned out and every business should be ready for unseen twists and obstacles. In the current situation, when the e-stores reign and most of our lives are online-based, it definitely pays off to spend some time and resources on the data analysis of customers. 

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