Why putting data first can boost your eCommerce website

18 Nov 2019 by Monica Linzmeier

The United States Census recently released a study where they found that ‘E-commerce sales in the second quarter of 2019 accounted for 10.7 percent of total sales.’ 10.7% of total sales across the entire country!

Let’s take a look at it another way. According to a Shopping Preferences Study by Google and Kantar TNS, in the United States, each month on average, 6.5 ‘everyday essentials’ are bought online. The study breaks down this number by market, we can see that it goes up to 7.9 in India, and down to 5.7 in Brazil and so on. 

But no matter how you shake it, online shopping is an ever-increasing and easily quantifiable market. That’s why its odd that companies that have so much data at their fingertips aren’t using the right data to make smarter business decisions. A Google survey found that fewer than 40% of eCommerce builders are using consumer research to drive decisions

But when we look at the US market as an example, Google relates the hyper presence of online shoppers to be a reaction to a market that is saturated with trusted companies

So how do you make sure to use data to improve your marketplace business? 


Integrate feedback from users 

Any online retailer will tell you that the user experience is the most important aspect of an eCommerce store. The best way to improve your online business regardless of the type of products or services you have will be to listen to what your users are saying. 

There are many ways to go about it. Feedback can be as simple as creating a Google Survey to ask how they enjoyed their shopping experience, or something a little bit more complicated.

You’ll get all sorts of important information from your surveys that you may have been overlooking on your eCommerce site, but this information should always be coupled with your other touchpoints: your phone calls, your online reviews, your chatbot reviews. You can also glean a decent amount of information from social media and social listening. It should be an essential part of your social media strategy plan

McKinsey underlined the importance of using outside metrics like social listening in an article called ‘Making data analytics work for you—instead of the other way around.’ They cited an unnamed company that used data too strictly and therefore missed the right timing for a market launch. By loosening the data points and using ‘soft data’ like social media there were more accurate in their predictions.  

Another benefit of getting insights from your customers? You can learn about how people feel about your competitors and you can get new product ideas. 


Analyze customer behavior on your website and in-store 

In addition to integrating feedback from your shoppers, any good eCommerce platform will use data to analyze the typical behavior of your shoppers in order to better anticipate their needs and where they get blocked in the marketing funnel, both online and in stores.  


This is a topic that has been heavily researched since it has such large and overreaching impacts on ROI, and when put to good use, it can help improve customer service and overall brand experience. 

BCG did research on four “ways to improve digital customer service” in a recent study. And their number one tip? “Understand customer behavior by analyzing data across all channels.” 

They use an example of how they helped a customer call center analyze the subjects of their customer service representative calls and realized that 45% of the needs of those who called in could be managed with online digital services. They could automate 45% of the needs while retaining high customer satisfaction.   

With good data management and analysis, you can keep track of customer behavior through their retention statistics, customer purchasing history, how often your coupons are used, average customer lifecycle, and even group your clients into different segments to activate them with specific and targeted automatic emailing.  

Each of these online touchpoints can have an impact on your in-store sales as well. 

According to a study by Deloitte, digital interactions influence more than half of every dollar spent in brick-and-mortar stores and drive expectations of price transparency, convenience, and relevance. 


Data isn’t just for online exclusive companies. As BCG lays out in a study from 2018, data can help your user’s in-store experience as well. 

To learn more about how to implement all of these, check out the full article here. 

Another way to use in-store data to impact your overall business decisions? Google recommends letting local inventory decide your product strategy. They created this map of a pie company’s local inventory for Sweet pies versus Savory pies. With the data that clearly indicates the east coast’s preference for savory pies over sweet pies, the company can create targeted marketing and apply an overall strategy based on local preferences. 

Investing in data that looks at the totality of online and in-store habits will come full circle. As Google explains in this article, when Sprint increased its online ad spending over 8 weeks, they noticed a 20% increase in online sales and a 32% increase in stores. 


Use statistics to reduce returns 

Finally, the last thing to tackle is the return process. By correctly analyzing the return statistics, you may be able to pinpoint why customers are returning products. There are many reasons people return products, sometimes the products arrive too late, they do not match those in the photo, sometimes people have just changed their mind. 

By surveying and analyzing why these returns are taking place you can implement a plan to reduce the pain points by improving the quality of the visuals, by improving shipping times etc. 

For a more in-depth look at how to reduce returns, check out this article.  


Bonus tip: Deloitte argues that even though US-based electronic commerce businesses aren’t obligated to abide by RGPD regulations, the businesses that comply with the new regulations and work towards being prepared for new public policies will be setting themselves for success in the future. 

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