Analytics & Data

Drowning in Data? Consider a Business Intelligence Tool

Ecommerce companies use multiple tools and services. A business could have an ecommerce platform, a marketing automation tool, an email service provider, a web analytics service, and more. Most platforms have their own dashboards, which measure different aspects of the business. Some dashboards can overlap. For example, an ecommerce platform and web analytics service could both report site visits.

So how does a merchant pull all the data together to see the big picture? Many companies use business intelligence tools, which combine data from multiple sources and display it in a meaningful way.

Business Intelligence Tools

To determine if you need a business intelligence tool, start by identifying all sources of data that your business collects. This could include sales, social media interaction, email activity, analytics data, and more.

Next, consider the following questions.

  • How often do you review reports from each tool? If the answer is weekly or monthly, you are likely not analyzing data in detail. A business intelligence tool can aggregate data from all platforms in one report.
  • How much time do you spend assembling the reports? If you spend excessive time producing the reports and not enough time analyzing them, you may need a business intelligence tool.
  • Would you benefit from having all metrics in one report? For example, if you want to view in one place conversions by source, engagement of posts on social media, and product-page visits, you likely need a business intelligence tool.

How to Choose

There are many business intelligence tools, from free to thousands of dollars per month. The prices reflect the features and usage. Free options include Google Data Studio and the open source Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools. Low-cost choices include DashThis, Reporting Ninja, and Wunderdata. High-end enterprise-level options include Tableau, Domo, and Datorama.

Each tool comes with different connectors — also known as sources — that pull data automatically into the platform. This is an important feature. If you cannot easily pull all sources into one place, it is not worth having the tool. Some providers allow for automatic pulling of data via FTP, Google Drive, or even emailing reports from sources outside their connectors.

Features that vary among each tool include:

  • Ability to create custom fields, custom metrics, and custom colors.
  • Multiple chart formats, such as various views of sales, month-over-month automatic calculations, and heat maps.
  • Support and training. Some include 24/7 support. Others have none.

Other differentiators include the look and feel of the platform, the ease of use, the onboarding process, and security.

How to Implement

Having selected a business intelligence tool, the next step is to implement it. First, import all data into the tool using its connectors or other processes (described above).

Next, design your dashboards following a few simple rules.

  • Identify problems. Set up trend charts and create alarms for drastic changes. For example, if you typically have 1,000 daily web visitors and yesterday you had just 20, something is likely broken.
  • View entire picture. It is important to see all key metrics on a single page.
  • Easy to understand. If you are spending more than 10 minutes each day studying the dashboard, chances are it was poorly designed.
Anna Kayfitz
Anna Kayfitz
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