Retail, Business Intelligence, and the Pandemic

15 September 2021

Retail, Business Intelligence, and the Pandemic

The recent pandemic caused a wealth of complications for every industry on a global scale, creating a level of disruption rarely seen. From travel to education, logistics to entertainment, sectors had to respond with urgency and confidence to meet rising challenges – with serious consequences for those unable to shift stances.

One industry that faced particularly unique challenges was Retail, with issues ranging from navigating the sudden closure of storefronts to a lack of access to customers and activity. Below, we examine the challenges that Retail faced during the pandemic, and how their Data Analytics and BI tools helped support them in a rapidly evolving landscape.

Recognising the need for a data-driven approach

From enabling successful marketing strategies to improving customer experiences and enhancing critical business decisions, the retail industry has truly recognised the importance of implementing a data-driven approach. As the margin for error between retailers became increasingly fine, this utilisation of data has evolved to become more important than ever before.

Throughout the pandemic, those well equipped with the correct Business Intelligence tools to gain critical insights were able to adjust more readily to the challenges raised throughout the pandemic. Faced with the pressure of making processes as cost-effective and efficient as possible to alleviate pressure, those with optimised BI efforts were able to streamline operations, introduce automation, and access insights to further improve systems.

Business Intelligence and enabled agility

As businesses struggled to survive during a pandemic that forced an average daily closure of 48 venues, real-time BI efforts were more important than ever before – enabling an agile, dynamic approach.

Through harnessing Business Intelligence and adopting a data-driven approach, enterprises can leverage their data to make strategic decisions flexibly and on-demand with real-time insights, using intelligence based on customer behaviour to swiftly change focus and direction with confident and reliable foundations. The importance of agility and real-time insights were an important tool for many retailers during the pandemic.

From adapting the language of marketing campaigns to make them more appropriate during uncertain times, to understanding the status of supply chains and using predictive analytics to take a proactive stance, data-driven enterprises in the retail sector were able to recognise the greatest path to secure current standings and seek out potential opportunities.

Facing the digital transformation issue

Facing serious consequences if efforts proved unsuccessful, many retailers had to undergo essential digital transformations rapidly and securely – aided throughout by BI solutions. For some, this meant shifting entirely from in-store retail environments to a fully online, eCommerce environment.

For other retailers, a lack of access to services meant that a data-driven approach to tasks such as stock management and optimising promotional sales were critical. Without a well-structured, well-communicated BI framework, these organisations may not have had access, or the agility needed to navigate these challenges – and may have faced serious risks or consequences.

Alongside resolving challenges within infrastructure and operations through harnessing Business Intelligence, retailers faced another issue that threatened further disruption – the lack of access to needed data, due to restrictive and enforced quarantine laws.

To counter this challenge, many retailers turned to the Cloud for aid.

COVID and the Cloud

While businesses all over the world were aware of the capabilities of the Cloud as a data storage solution, the recent pandemic caused a reliance on the Cloud previously unseen. With the pandemic restricting access to conventional on-premises data sources, the Cloud provided an ideal solution that enabled access from any internet-enabled device regardless of location.

This allowed hundreds of enterprises throughout the UK, as well as on an international scale, to shift to remote working for greater safety, without sacrificing operational efficiency or progress. As an ideal platform for data storage, use, and analysis, the Cloud provided three core advantages throughout the pandemic:

    1. Accessibility

Due to the quarantine and lockdown restrictions, office workers that were previously close to on-premises data storage now lacked on-demand access to critical information, having to employ extensive measures to reach previously available insights.

By shifting to the Cloud, businesses can ensure that important intelligence is available on-demand from any location, requiring only credentials and an internet connection to reach the data needed. Not bound by location, the Cloud-enabled businesses that would previously have suffered great consequences easy and rapid access to datasets.

     2. Scalability

Unlike on-premises data storage, Cloud data is easily scalable and flexible for businesses. Growing in line with demand, Cloud storage gives businesses greater governance, control, and longevity than traditional on-premises storage solutions, which eventually fill up and demand more investment and infrastructure – offering potentially limitless data storage for enterprises of all sizes.

  3. Cost-effectiveness

With these benefits available to enterprises of any size, Cloud storage is also radically cost-effective for businesses with little management or maintenance – empowering further investments in other areas to drive additional growth.

With a variety of payment options ranging from an annual fee to a pay-as-you-go model, Cloud storage capabilities can be accessed easily and without limitation, scaled when demand is there, and scaled back when it isn’t.

Transform your enterprise with Business Intelligence

Throughout the pandemic, Business Intelligence has enabled retailers to deploy strategic decisions in the face of large potential risks and consequences.

From providing international retailers with Machine Learning capabilities to improving the customer focus of smaller retailers, the ability to make decisions informed with consistent, high-quality data has never been more important, or more accessible.

At DataShapa, we are committed to empowering businesses with a truly data-driven approach – delivering intelligence that can be trusted. To learn more about the capabilities of Business Intelligence, read more about how we’ve previously worked with business in our case studies here. For any Business Intelligence solution enquiries, or for any questions you may have, contact us here.

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