From your social media accounts to your point of sale system to customer surveys, you’ve gathered as much information on your customers as possible with it all culminating into a mountain of data for your retail business. The next question to answer: How can you take those mounds of data from these different sources and turn them into insight gold?

A study from Alteryx and RetailWire reveals that the biggest obstacle companies have when faced with a large amount of data is actually analyzing it. Only 16 percent of retailers consider themselves experts in data harnessing, or transforming untapped data into valuable, actionable insights, while 60 percent describe themselves as “getting there.”

Similar to sourcing data, analysis can seem overwhelming, but there are a few steps retailers both big and small can take in making the most of their data.

Create Customer Profiles

Retailers facing trouble acquiring customers should ask themselves, Do I know who my customers are? Acquiring data from various sources is virtually useless if there’s no definitive way of utilizing the data to target customers. Establishing who the customers are is vital not only in data analysis but in the actual execution of marketing campaigns.

According to a 2018 study by Evergage Inc. via Internet Retailer, only 2% of executives said their companies had data collected from all channels. By segmenting customers into groups, or customer profiles, based on the entirety of the data they’ve collected, retailers can better target customers and choose the appropriate marketing channel, whether it be email, social media, or more traditional channels.

While demographics such as age and gender are typically included in customer profiles and can be very useful for marketing to the right segment, other personal information, including name, birthday, address, and even social media handles, are instrumental in personalizing marketing materials like sales promotions and special offers. By allowing customers to provide this information in customer profiles, retailers can access it as often as needed without having to locate it again and again.

Identify Trends

Perhaps the most important piece of information retailers should consider in analyzing data is their customers’ transaction history. Questions such as, How often do they buy? What products do they purchase? and How much do they spend per visit? are particularly helpful for identifying trends and upsell opportunities.

Retailers should also scour their sales reports and determine if there are any patterns between customers in specific regions, products, or different times of the year. These trends are not only useful in marketing campaigns but in product promotion, merchandising and more.

Companies should also take advantage of any additional features their POS system offers, such as Lightspeed’s multichannel sales data and multi-store inventory capability.

Revisit and Revise When Necessary

Creating customer profiles and identifying trends aren’t one-and-done tasks. As technology improves and the competitive landscape changes, retailers must be willing to revisit the data often and modify their approach.

Technology, both enterprise and consumer, plays an important role in the way existing and potential customers behave. For example, the average person in the US now spends over 87 hours per month browsing their smartphone compared to 34 hours on a desktop. The increase in mobile usage might indicate to a retailer that customers prefer a more mobile-focused outreach, which might not be apparent if the customer profiles and trends aren’t observed on a regular basis.

Retailers should also ask themselves, How has my business changed in the past year? If the products or services offered have been tweaked or changed entirely, that is a good opportunity to revisit the customer data. While the ideal customer might have fit one specific profile in the past, the retailer may have introduced new product lines that are inclusive of other types of customers. Retailers should also take into account how changes in their competitors’ products or services can affect their customers as well.

Establishing who their customers are, how those customers behave, and how they buy is a necessary step in retailers’ eCommerce personalization process, but it’s not the final one. The mined data and insights matter only when a retailer executes a well-designed campaign strategy based on those learnings and sees the results of truly customizing the customer experience.