SME retailers don’t prioritise planning, finds study

FileMaker: retailers need to focus on strategy

FileMaker: retailers need to focus on strategy

British retailers may still be living in the short term, focusing on sales rather than strategy, according to new research.

The FileMaker Insight Awareness Report, published today, shows UK retailers are more interested in gaining insight that aids customer service (65%) and sales and marketing (62%) rather than risk management (23%) or strategic business planning (22%).

Examining the attitudes of 100 UK SME retailers, the FileMaker report shows a sector drowning in a deluge of data, with 83% of survey respondents citing more access to business data than five years ago.

Nor is gaining access to information considered a challenge, with 65% of respondents claiming to find it easy to collect information that feeds into their metrics and KPIs. However, only half are satisfied with their company’s ability to translate data into actionable insight.

The majority of respondents (47%) agree insight aids decision making and insights are closely linked to business strategy (45%). However, in practice few are able to implement an insight-led strategy in their businesses. Fifty per cent cited a lack of time or competing priorities, while 34% felt they lacked the staff and/or skills to turn data into insight. A quarter of retailers surveyed felt they had more data than they could use effectively.

Other findings include:

  • 91% of respondents have at least one tool to process customer information, but only 27% have data on customer satisfaction or loyalty; 75% have no CRM system
  • 48% are using electronic communications for marketing purposes, but only 22% have implemented a data warehouse or customer intelligence system to make sense of the information from the responses those communications can generate
  • 41% spend more time retaining than attracting customers but only 26% have any kind of loyalty scheme in place
  • 50% believe social media provides a useful source of customer and market insight, implying that requests for information or informal contact sometimes take the place of systematic data collection
  • However, 46% are not using any of the major social media channels (YouTube, MySpace, LinkedIn Twitter and Facebook)

“With the focus placed squarely on gathering marketing and sales information, it looks like UK retailers are treading water to some extent; prioritising tactical survival techniques over strategic business planning,” said Tony Speakman, director, FileMaker northern region.

“While factors such as economic recovery are justifiably hard to predict, a clear understanding of the tools available for collecting and analysing meaningful data can go a long way towards setting an achievable long-term agenda.”