Retail and hospitality: new controls and windows into the future

You no longer need a crystal ball to create far-reaching business plans; as technology has made business control, predictive analysis, and trend mapping into a science.

How is this possible, and how can smaller companies harness all this potential when they are in competition with larger organisations, with deeper pockets?

Consumers are more sophisticated and shop around

Business growth opportunities in the retail and hospitality sector are largely driven by keeping ahead of customer needs and desires. Yet modern consumers are more demanding – and fickle – than ever before. Potentially making the task of mapping future trends seem much harder!

Technology has provided consumers with readily available tools to search, buy and share opinions. Even physical retailers and hospitality outlets need a strong digital presence to grab their attention. Consumers also have shorter attention spans; plus the era of austerity means “shopping around” is crucial, as well as fun.

How do you cut through all this, for sustainable business growth?

Tools and methods to map buying patterns

Fortunately, rapidly advancing technology has not only empowered consumers but also provided retail and hospitality companies with the tools they need to understand themselves – and their customers – much better. These cover not just improved sales and marketing effectiveness, but also tighter financial control.

New technology and advanced analytic skills have made it possible to collect and sort vast amounts of drilled down data, including far superior information on consumer behaviour. This can include not just what they buy, but also why, and what their preferences may be in the future.

Is this sort of data intelligence only available to the big global brands, who are building sophisticated customer experience models and AI-drive automation on the back of it? Absolutely not! Consumer data is equally valuable to smaller enterprises, once you know how to use it or when you outsource to data-competent agencies.

For example, detailed analytics from your website can show user experience and lead conversion. The potential is now there to smoothly integrate this with data that charts physical interactions with your customers too. This streamlining of virtual and real consumer behaviour data is helping to develop new “clicks and bricks” retailing opportunities. At the very least, new data integration voids “silos” of information, when the sales team’s activities have little or no day-to-day relationship to service or product delivery.

In fact, the most successful companies using data as “growth rocket fuel”, are the ones that fully understand its pervasive nature. Data analysis and mapping are no longer the remit of the IT team, or only of interest to the sales department. They are company-wide imperatives, especially in the financial management of your organisation.

Business control and predictive analysis

This is where smaller companies can really take on the “big players”. One of the ways in which technology has created exciting new growth opportunities is by making financial management and planning far more assured and transparent.

At one time, Finance and Accountancy teams and agencies were primarily focused on compliance. They were viewed as a specialist business function, to be referred to “as and when necessary”. The new era of accountancy has seen it come out of a corner office, to take a seat in the board room!

Modern software and cloud services have automated many of the financial management and accountancy processes, freeing professions to develop their role. Moving away from repetitive “number crunching” has given them more time to explore the new data-riches available.

From this, comes end to end transparency in how cash flows through organisations. Forensic analysis of data has reached new levels of detail, but also integration. For example, it is possible to draw off information to measure any point of a company’s business operations. Then, you can analyse such things as the interrelationship between inventory lifecycle, staff productivity and actual sales achieved.

Having this level of financial analysis generates improved insights for better waste management, inventory control, productivity and profit margins.

In the right hands, financial data is the bedrock of growth planning. Not only can companies see where they have been more clearly, but they can also see into the future. If you can marry new customer insights, to your new financial predictive analysis, it is a powerful combination!

Predictive analysis helps companies to make business decisions that avoid waste or undue risk and place greater emphasis on developments that have financial evidence to support them.

Unlock this potential

If this sounds overwhelming, then it’s time to contact Virgate Accounts. We will get to know your business thoroughly and can handle day to day financial tasks. However, we can also be part of business growth planning, for a sustainable future.