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The fall of the High Street and the rise in importance of Data

Storefronts and stalls have been around since biblical times, and even now, one just has to walk around London to see stores that are hundreds of years old. Take Fortnum and mason for example, founded in 1707 and still trading in the same building. Retail has not fundamentally changed much over the millennia.

However, since the internet revolution of the mid 90’s and the introduction of e-commerce stores such as amazon and eBay, the retail industry has undergone its biggest overhaul yet. Gone is the physical world of try before you buy and in is the virtual world of buy, deliver and then send it back if you don’t like it.

 

Amazon has recently posted an impressive annual revenue of $232.9 billion. Likewise, the average growth of sales of E-commerce was 24.5% annually since 2014.

According to the analysis of 500 high streets by accountancy specialist PwC and the Local Data Company, 2,692 stores were shut between January and June. Just 1,569 started up – a record low, the report said, because of plunging confidence. Retailers are focusing more and more on online shopping.

Gone are the days where buses, trains and cars ship avid shoppers to the highstreets and out of town shopping centres and in are the days of UPS, Parcel-Force and FEDEX vans bringing the shops to us.

Useful Data to Retailers

As retail businesses are closing down their storefronts on the high street, they are focusing more and more on online sales. With this change, comes an influx of useful data to retailers that must be stored and made good use of.

This flood of data to retailers presents them with a huge amount of power and opportunity to know who their customers are and likewise to gather data about them in order to inform future business decisions.

When customers make an order, they must fill out the delivery address, with this information, company’s can map where the majority of their customers are ordering from and optimize marketing campaigns accordingly based on location.

Perhaps a business notices that a lot of its sales are in inner city areas, they may choose to double down their marketing efforts in these areas or look for other cities in which their products may be suitable.

Likewise, knowing where your customers are based may help to optimize delivery routes so that customers get their products as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Having said this, these benefits are to no avail if customer data is incorrect or there are large amounts of duplicates in retailers CRM systems. Erroneous data sets will lead to misinformed decisions which will result in inefficient business processes and ultimately losses for the business. It is essential that with this uprooting of the retail industry, retailers start taking data management seriously.

Whilst there is a huge opportunity for retailers who take their data management seriously, there is also a large amount of risk if customer data is not managed correctly.
The sanctions on companies who mismanage their customer data can be substantial. Likewise, in an increasingly competitive market, missing out on the benefits of effective data management may be the angel of death for retailers around the globe.

Change is inevitable, however, it is businesses resilience and ability to adapt to change that determines their ability not only to survive but to prosper.

Written by

Martin is CEO and founder of DQ Global, a Data Quality Software company based in the UK. With an engineering background, Martin previously ran a CRM Software business. He has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience over the years and has established himself as a Data Quality Improvement Evangelist and an industry expert.
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