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Why Data Visibility Is The Key To Growing Your Business

Published 16th September 2021
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This post was written by Volo Commerce, a trusted partner of OnBuy.

It’s perhaps the understatement of the year to say that it’s been a pretty eventful 19 or 20 months, but all sellers are really interested in what the next 19 to 20 months hold. What are the trends that will shape selling on marketplaces like OnBuy over the coming years? At Volo, we wanted to know what the barriers were to long-term eCommerce success, so we conducted a survey among sellers.

The survey was carried out in April and May of this year, as the UK was beginning to open up again. Here are the biggest trends from the survey, followed by a deep dive into one particular trend which can help boost your business growth.

Ecommerce selling trends for 2021 and beyond

woman searching her laptop on OnBuy website

Trend #1: Diversify your online presence

We asked sellers what lessons they’d learned for 2021 and beyond. More than half indicated that they needed to be able to diversify across more channels, like adding OnBuy to their existing marketplace coverage, or adding a web store to complement their OnBuy presence. Sellers didn’t want the risk of having all their eCommerce eggs in one basket: they wanted to spread their risk and give themselves some wiggle room or insurance for the future. This was great to hear at Volo, since we help companies automate and streamline their operations across multiple channels.

Trend #2: Improve visibility into business performance

The second most important lesson learned was the need for better visibility into how their business is performing. This stands to reason, since you’re flying blind if you don’t know how you’re doing. Visibility is the main topic of this post, but before returning to it, it’s worth sharing the two other important trends from the survey.

Trend #3: Automate your processes

We also asked sellers what the main blockers to their growth were. Unsurprisingly, the upheaval of tax and customs changes in the UK from 1st January 2021, and in the EU from 1st July 2021, provided the biggest headache to moving the business forward. This headache, we feel, will continue to ease over time.

Not far behind was the blocker to successful growth caused by manual processes. Manual processes are the enemy of productivity, which of course has a direct bearing on profitability. It’s good to see that so many sellers identified their processes as a key element holding them back. Automating those repetitive tasks can save time, cut down human error, reduce costs, and free up your staff to focus on higher value activities, which are all good things that enhance your bottom line.

Trend #4: More channels and more products are key to growth

We asked sellers what the most important areas for long-term growth were, and these two areas were a dead heat. When we sliced the data according to company size, we saw a similar distribution across focus areas. When we assessed the results for type of business, however, we did see some variance, which was in line with expectations. Channels were especially important for brands and retailers, since distribution is their lifeblood. Products were especially important for merchants, emphasising the importance to that group of access to good product.

You can download your copy of the full survey results here, offered by our joint venture partner ecommotors, who provide the full eCommerce technology and services solution to the automotive aftermarket.

The benefits of data visibility

data visibility infographic

Let’s return to the visibility topic and dig deeper into data and business intelligence. Data is everywhere, flowing into, through and out of your business. It’s central to your operations: data from your suppliers, on your products, your listings, from your channels and in transactions with your customers, from the shipping partners who deliver your products and from the systems you integrate with.

How can you effectively run your business if you can’t interpret all that data? Put more simply, how can you run your business if you don’t know what’s happening in it? This is especially important if you’re selling across other marketplaces and web stores as well as OnBuy, because every extra channel creates an extra layer of data points, and an extra layer of complexity that you need to make sense of, and quickly.

This is the promise of business intelligence, with flexible dashboards and reports. How valuable would it be for you to know, within a few clicks, your best products, customers, channels and regions? Your most profitable products, customers, channels and regions? Even down to the profit you’re making, or not making, on each order?

Why is data visibility important?

woman searching on laptop barcharts overlayed

It helps you make good, quick, and confident decisions, and these decisions result in a raft of benefits to the business.

It can help improve your cash flow

You don’t want your cash tied up in slow-moving or dead stock. You want to optimise your cash conversion cycle by identifying both the fast sellers and the slow-moving or dead products in your warehouse. You can then create promotions to move your slower items and free up space and cash.

It can help improve your forecasting

When you know the details of your sales performance and stock, you can see how fast your items are moving, how many days you have left and how long it takes to re-order. Then you can tie your purchasing more closely to your forecasts and set up rules and alerts to make sure you don’t overstock or oversell.

It can help improve customer loyalty

You can analyse your customer buying habits to understand your regular customers, which channels they’re buying on, who’s still buying from you and who has drifted away. When armed with this information, you can create compelling marketing offers to keep them coming back.

It can help improve your margins

When you break down and monitor your different cost categories, ideally down to an individual order level, you can see which items and orders are selling the most profitably and which you’re effectively losing money on. Analysing your margins helps you focus on your profitable items and cut out or do something about the unprofitable ones.

We hope this has helped highlight how valuable having data visibility is to your business. Stay tuned for our next post in this series where we’ll share how better data visibility can help supercharge your business growth.

To start selling on OnBuy and realising the benefits of visibility into what’s really happening in your multichannel eCommerce business, register here.

About Volo

For merchants and brand retailers who want to expand across multiple online channels like OnBuy, Volo Commerce provides a multichannel eCommerce management platform with business intelligence, complemented by high touch value-add services for planning, launching and growing. Automate your processes, centrally control your channels and scale up your business with Volo.
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