Data & Analysis

Thanks to my trusty new employee, I’ve finally been able to get some time off so that I can actually get some work done on a number of areas that have been neglected.  In particular, business analysis and review.

In many ways, as an online business we have access (and easier access!) to more data than  most brick & mortar (B&M) stores do.  Simple things (for us) like visitor count, conversion rates (% of visitors who buy), time in store and what they view are much more difficult for a B&M store to quantify. And while the systems we use to quantify that information have an error rate, it’s generally a consistent error rate.

Data

Data collection is quite simple when you are running an online business. A lot of it gets stored automatically (unless you specifically decide not to store that information, like credit card numbers in our case. Hint, hint Sony) somewhere in our servers.  Other information, for example, visitor logs – we have to consciously decide to  gather.

Perhaps the most important part of data collection is deciding what you want to do with the data so that it can be analysed later.  A B&M store that has a security camera trained on the entrance technically has collected the data on footfall in the store.  However, it’s not particularly easy for figuring out how many.

As such, when putting in place your data analysis procedures, think about what you’re going to do with the data as well.  Quite often, when using an off-the-counter package (whether it’s your accounting software for expenses / income reports or an analytics package); it’ll come with in-built reporting capabilities.  Understanding the capabilities of the software you use in this regard is extremely important.

 Analysis

So you got a ton of information.  Now what? The hard part isn’t getting the data or even extracting some useful information. It’s analysing it to give you actionable analyses.  Think of it this way – it’s not much good knowing how many people come into your store, the question is, what are you going to do about it?

An Example

Recently, I’ve been going over our sales figures and what we sell.  It’s a LOT of information, and the difficulty is pulling the data together in a meaningful way and then drawing meaningful analysis of it.

One of the things we’ve worked out is that we have a huge number of sales in the $30 – 40 range.  That’s mostly from Settlers of Catan obviously, not particularly surprising.  However there are a number of games as well within that range, so it’s not just Settlers.

The question is, what do you do with that information? It’s not as if we can sell more copies of Settlers to our existing customer base.  So what’s the use of that information? Well, here’s a few things we thought of:

  • Promote the Settlers of Catan 5 & 6 expansion more
  • Increase the number of games in the ‘sweet’ spot of $30 – 40
  • Improve the recommendations / upsell process for the above games
  • Make finding Settlers easier on the site