Expert advice on the business of running a garment decoration company

Data is all around us, there is no hiding from it. From the basics such as customer information, names, addresses and contact details to the more complex monthly accounts, customer orders and website data, it can all be used to shape your business by identifying the best avenues to explore – ones that you might not previously have considered before analysing your business data.

Measuring the data that your business has access to can also help to streamline your business, its production and how every department operates. In production departments, items such as machine time versus output, machine downtime versus costs etcetera can be monitored, with the resulting data giving you a real understanding as to whether your business is operating efficiently.

Data doesn’t necessarily have to be raw numbers either: it can be qualitative, which can add just as much value to your business. Opinions and attitudes can be analysed not only to develop your business internally, but also to provide great insight into what your customers think of your services and products, which you can then use to help train your staff and review your business’s various operations.

There are a number of software packages designed for garment decorators that allow you to measure not only the basics, such as names and addresses, but also what customers have bought, what items they’ve clicked, where they saw your business advertised and so on.

The obvious way to use this data is to keep in touch with your customers through marketing campaigns. By having extra data at your fingertips about their clicks and buying habits, you’ll be able to further tailor your campaigns, which should improve engagement rates (again, data collection here is invaluable – want to know which one of two email subject lines will lead to a higher open rate? Test one subject line on 20 customers then the other subject line on another 20 customers. Whichever one scores the highest open rate can then be used for the remaining mail out. Simple).

Check how your website is functioning by looking beyond the visitor numbers: when are customers visiting, what pages are they looking at, what ones are they ignoring, where are they coming from, how long are they staying? All this can be used to check your site is working for your business.

You can also take a close look at what’s happening on the purchasing side: when are customers are ordering, what they are ordering and how frequently they are ordering? Use the information to work out when best to hold promotions that will get people visiting during the quiet times – plug the gaps and maximise your sales.

Remember, however, to play by the rules. There is a whole host of data guidelines and regulations out there, with the obvious one being the data protection act.

You must give your customers all the options available for opting in/opting out/unsubscribing, along with mentioning they may be contacted in the future for marketing purposes. Most customers won’t mind you using their data to contact them to promote your business or products, but playing by the rules will protect your business.

One last thought

Managing your data is vital. First and foremost, make sure all the data you’ve collected is secure. It also has to be accurate, relevant and up to date to be of any significant value to your business – ongoing data collection is an essential part of any business strategy.

Andrew Langridge is from eTrader, one of the industry’s leading suppliers of websites to garment decorators across the UK.
www.etraderwebsites.co.uk

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