The key to working smarter (not harder) is in your daily transactions

Every time a customer runs a credit or debit card in your store, you capture a wealth of information that can help you run your business better. Rich with insight and data, those transactions can help you better understand your customers, your competitors, your local market, and even the performance of your business. The problem is that most of this information is locked up and hidden from view.

Today we’re going to break-down the What, Who, When, and Where of your transactions and how these insights will help you run your business more effectively, if you can get at the information. 

Transactions tell you what your shoppers want

At the base level, transactions show what you’re selling and how much. This insight has been instrumental in helping shop owners manage inventory and stock, or, if you’re a service-based business, it helps with staffing, so you have the right people working when you need them.

What people buy the most of is vital to your business’s success. With as much work as you put into attracting new customers, you can’t afford to be out of stock when they come to buy. Your transactions give you the ability to better supply for their demand.

Not unlike our weekly or monthly bank statements, knowing the ins-and-outs of your services and sales will help you budget better. You’ll be able to invest in the right amount of supply or labor, so you’re not eating the cost because you miscounted or guess incorrectly.

Transactions reveal your best customers

One of the more unique pieces of information hidden in your transactions is who bought from you. At first glance, this may not seem very relevant, however, knowing who your customers are is essential to your overall business health. Without access to the information behind the transaction, it’s hard to answer some of the most important customer questions around your marketing and customer retention efforts:

  • Is this customer new?
  • How many times have they been in?
  • How many of my other customers are just like them?
  • What can I do to attract more customers like them?

To answer these kinds of questions, you need to know who your customers are and what makes them, them. When you know who your customers are, you can ask yourself these questions and start to form a strategy to retain the customers you have, attract new ones, and turn first-time buyers into repeat shoppers.

Knowing who is buying from you will also help you create a unique environment as you identify the trends unique to your shoppers. So much of the work behind marketing strategies to attract new customers is based on guesswork. Even the best guesswork is often laborious and inaccurate, and a misstep could be costly. They are your customers; you deserve to know who they are as individuals and who they are as a whole. After all, it is your customer database; you shouldn’t have to guess.

Transactions prepare you for your busiest days

When a customer bought something may seem trivial in the scheme of all the pressing things business owners need to focus on, but it could be a huge relief and help you maximize your work.

You may have heard, or perhaps you’re familiar with, the concept of seasonality. Over the course of a week, month, and year, there is a natural fluctuation of high and low sales. Take the holiday shopping season. For many business types, the holiday season is a peak sales season for the year, but that’s only two of the twelve months. What is happening in the spring or summer?

Many businesses have parted ways with the traditional weekend and take their break mid-week because it’s when they have their lowest sales days. Seasonality can apply to days, weeks, a period of months, as well as the year. And it can be one of the most frustrating aspects of operating a business when you are unaware of them. You may be worried that sales are down, but really, for this time of the year, you’re right on track.

Every business has a unique weekly, monthly, and yearly flux. Knowing when something was bought and being able to compare those days and weeks brings peace of mind and confidence when things are slower, and they will help you better prepare for the big rushes and hectic times. The applications are vast, too. From employee scheduling to inventory stocking, time is a factor in small business survival, and knowing when something was purchased can be instrumental in preparing for those busy times.

Transactions show how you compare locally

Where your customers are shopping may seem like a rather obvious piece of information (they did purchase in your store), but it can be very telling and help you see how your store ranks in the local market. People have no shortage of places they can shop locally or online. So the fact that they bought from you is a valuable insight.

The key here is that they bought with you, not your competition. While unlocking the insights of your transactions won’t give you the specifics about your competitors, but with the right tools, you can know how you stack up. You can see how the area performed on a specific day or week and know whether you’re on par with the community or lagging behind.

Businesses have wanted insights into their competitor’s performance since people started selling. Even Willy Wonka had to deal with some mischievous spy trying to get an inside scoop 😉. Business owners don’t need to be driving by the competition to see how they compare; they don’t need to send in friends to scope it out either. The fact of the matter is, even if you did those things, you wouldn’t have the insight you need to really know how you compare. With the right tools, you can get a clearer picture into your top competitor’s performance and know exactly how you compare.

Transactions help you work smarter, not harder

Knowledge is power, but power isn’t very helpful until harnessed. An unused outlet on your wall is loaded with power, too. Until you plug something into, though, it doesn’t do much but sit there. Your transactions are the same. They are powerful pieces of information that can be used to guide and advise your business, but they have to be used and put to work. Those insights will remove much of the guesswork and make working smarter easier than working harder.

You can measure success beyond the number of sales and how much revenue you add. No doubt those are some of the most important stats you need to run your business, but they are not the only aspects that need measuring if you want to measure success and improve on multiple fronts.  

The real power is when you’re able to compare those trends and insights to one another. Doing so allows you to identify patterns that are predictable, so you can put together plans that are strategic and actionable.

Take action

With the right tools, using that data is painless and enlightening. In the past, these types of tools have been expensive and required dedicated teams to manage, but that’s not the case anymore. Monitoring your business beyond the transaction level will allow you to make more informed decisions about your marketing, operations, and employee management. Womply will give you the controls you need to understand your business, your competitive market, and your customers. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!

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