Small business owners often overlook data collection. However, if you run your own small business, ethically collecting consumer data is key to increasing your operational efficiency and creating sustainable growth.
You don’t have to be a data enthusiast to collect and interpret consumer data either. Limiting your search and collecting clean, useful data will save you time and give you insights that you can actually use.
If you struggle to utilize data, you can use artificial intelligence (AI) to visualize your insights and improve your e-commerce game.
Data Collection Platforms
If you’re new to data collection, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of data you can feasibly collect. But when starting out, it’s important to prioritize the most important metrics and ignore data that is hard to utilize or untrustworthy.
Make the process easier by utilizing the best data collection tools and customer data platforms at every step.
Start by finding a data filing program that works for you. This can be as simple as embedding a link to Google Forms in your content, or utilizes services like those offered by SurveyMonkey and Device Magic. You’ll want to ensure that any data collection platform you use is cross-compatible on desktops and mobiles to give you a wider data set.
If you’re looking for a more complex data collection service, you may want to consider JotForm or FormAssembly. These platforms offer a little more flexibility and creative control over how you present your forms.
Before you sign up for a data collection program, ensure that the program is compatible with your customer relationship management (CRM) software. You don’t want to collect useful data, only to find it cannot be transferred to your CRM.
Ethical Data Collection
Once you’ve chosen the right data collection platform for your business, you need to decide how you wish to collect and store consumer data. As a small business, ethical data collection should be a top priority, since you rely on loyal customers who trust your brand and cannot afford litigation or lawsuits should data fall into the wrong hands.
Collect ethical customer data by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do your consumers consent to share their private data?
- Are you transparent about the personal information you store and how you intend to use it?
- Is personally identifiable information (PII) securely stored?
- Have you removed PII information by de-identifying data sets?
- What impact does your data have on your business? Are you using it responsibly?
Ethically collecting consumer data will protect the strength of your brand and help you stay on the right side of the law. It’s easy to make slip-ups, so prevent issues from occurring by removing identifying information and gaining explicit permission before you start pushing data through algorithms and AI programs.
Trawling through data in search of insights can be time-consuming and taxing. Massive data sets can easily become overwhelming and getting an accurate picture of consumer data can be challenging. Traditionally, these issues prevented businesses from realizing the true value of clean consumer data.
Today, AI makes it easier than ever before to visualize and utilize data. AI software is equipped with deep learning programs that can crunch the numbers and present useful insights in a fraction of the time that a human would need.
You can use AI to improve your e-commerce business too. AI software can use consumer data to improve every facet of your digital presence. For example, you can use AI chatbots that “learn” from interactions with consumers to provide a better UX on your website and ensure that consumers get the answers they need.
You can also use AI to identify patterns in consumer behavior. For example, an AI program may spot a trend amongst consumers who make repeat purchases. Using this insight, you can program the AI to send users product recommendations that are tailored to their specific interests to generate further sales.
AI can even minimize your costs and improve your operational efficiency. For example, if you use a lean management inventory system, you can use AI to forecast sales and predict trends in consumer behavior. This is particularly important if your sales fluctuate seasonally, as AI can ensure that you have just the right amount of inventory that you need.
Growth and Improvement
AI can help you identify trends and operate more efficiently. However, you still need to make big decisions when it comes to identifying areas of growth for your business. Rather than leaping out into the unknown, use consumer data to inform your decision-making process.
Over 70% of businesses use consumer data to improve their product or justify expansion. You can take similar steps to improve your current offering and grow into new markets. For example, if you’re thinking about launching an app, you may use data from your website to identify consumer pain points. You can use existing insights to predict issues that consumers face and alleviate potential pain points before your app goes live.
Consumer data can help you spot emerging trends and spark business growth. Make the process easier by choosing an appropriate data collection platform and utilizing AI to crunch the numbers. Ensure that your data collection strategy is intentionally ethical to protect your brand image and avoid lawsuits.