Manufacturers and distributors have used computers for decades to control their inventories, place orders and keep track of customers. With all the advancements in technology and inventory systems, now is the time to put all of that information to work with Big Data.
Big Data is a marketing buzz word used to describe any large set of electronic information that can be analyzed by businesses to increase their efficiency. Using these customer-behavior analytics applications, you can crunch your internal databases; see how your conclusions compare to your competitors; and more effectively analyze, track and predict your customers’, employees’ and inventory’s behavior.
Think of Big Data as the book recommendation function on Amazon.com, an early pioneer in the field. When purchasing a book, Amazon.com customers are provided a list of titles they also may be interested in purchasing. These recommendations are generated through a patented software process that makes an educated guess based on historical data and consumer preferences. While you may not be in the book business, these same software tools can make predictions about every aspect of your business including sales, marketing return on investment, employee retention and performance.
Two Areas Big Data May Help Manufacturers and Distributors
Sales. Many distribution firms still adhere to the tried-and-true sales funnel that includes the various stages of prospecting, assessment, qualification and closing. Overlaying large proprietary consumer-behavior data sets over your customer database may allow you to reach conclusions about the most effective way to close a deal with your prospects.
Warehousing. After years in the business, you may think you know your inventory pretty well. But do you, really? For example, every few years your sprinkler-system distribution business runs out of the same part four weeks before the end of your busiest quarter. Using Big Data, you may be able to determine what’s causing that shortage, which can allow you to better manage your inventory and correct the problem.