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The Data Business - How Embracing Data Results in Growth

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The Data Business - How Embracing Data Results in Growth

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How Chick-Fil-A Embraced Data and Won
On all counts, Chick-fil-A, the American fast food chain that was bogged down in controversies not so long ago, is now winning. A love for data and digital technology has helped turn Chick-fil-A into a high growth brand.
The NRF (National Retail Federation) annual event in 2019 helped showcase the secrets behind Chick-fil-A’s extraordinary growth. Data lies behind it all, and retailers are just now awakening to the possibilities.
Embracing Data Results in Better Competitive Moves
Chick-fil-A started taking a data-driven approach to its operations a few years back. In 2017, a TechRepublic report uncovered how Chick-fil-A was using geographical map data called GIS (geographic information system) to map out its expansion. 
Using ArcGIS, a popular tool for working with geographical data, the company could spot attractive store opening opportunities while avoiding diluting its brand. 
At the 2019 NRF event, head analyst Karen Hinson shed light on how data has continued to transform the company. 
Chick-fil-A has modernized its data software and now applies data more reliably across a range of business decisions. Important data the company looks at includes:
  • Sales
  • Profit
  • Transaction count
Careful analysis and use of data allows Hinson and her analytics team to get an up to date view of the health of the company.
Now Ranked 5th and Growing
There is proof that Chick-fil-A’s data-driven approach is now paying dividends. According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the company is now ranked 5th among US fast food chains and continues to grow. 
Just a few years ago, Chick-fil-A was 7th. In the intervening time, Chick-fil-A has also been one of the fastest growing US businesses.
Data Gives Everyday Retailers the Advantage
As the Chick-fil-A experience illustrates, data can be a competitive advantage for retailers and businesses of all kinds. 
While we ordinarily think of tech companies such as Facebook as the ones that should use data, nowadays, the reality has shifted. Even small retailers can access data and turn it into high quality strategic decisions.
Your Business Already Has Unused Data
If your retail business has not yet come up with a comprehensive approach to using data for decisions, you could be losing opportunities. 
The data that is generated daily and periodically in your business includes such items as:
  • Sales data
  • Order fulfillment
  • Customer comments
  • Product reviews
Used correctly, this and other data can be the key to unlocking long term competitiveness for each retailer.
The Potential of all Your Data
According to a McKinsey report on how to navigate changes in the retail industry, taking a data-driven approach is one of the best ways to navigate the future. 
Changing consumer behaviour, a fast-moving market, and the adoption of ecommerce all pose new challenges. 
To successfully adapt to these changes, retailers need to tap the data already available in their businesses. Your data has the potential to shed light on exactly which areas in your business need improvement, and how to get more from all your efforts.
Burger King Uses Data to Battle McDonald’s
Another food retail chain illustrates the potential for applying data to competitive advantage. Burger King has long been locked in a heated battle with industry icons McDonald’s and Wendy’s for leadership in fast food.
Based on QSR data on industry rankings, Burger King was 4th in fast food rankings, slightly ahead of Wendy’s. McDonald’s remained firmly in front.
A Cheeky Move Using Customer Location Data 
In December 2018, Burger King took the battle up a notch, using data, to snatch customers from McDonald’s.
As reported by CNBC, Burger King launched a marketing campaign to promote its app while trolling McDonald’s. It offered customers who were within 600 feet of a McDonald’s the unusual opportunity of buying a Burger King Whopper for just 1 penny.
If a customer ordered, using the Burger King app, they’d be led to the closest Burger King location to get their impressive deal.
Burger King Teaches Creative Use of Data
Burger King’s use of real-time location and customer data shows retailers how creative they can be when using data. 
There is no single approach that will work every time. Instead, decision makers need to take their unique market and strategic position into account.
What You Need to Make Use of Data
Knowing you need to use data is one thing, but making use of it is another. Fortunately, modern tools and analytics make it easier for managers and regular retail employees to begin making use of data.
All retailers are in the data business now. Here is how easy it is to get things moving.
Take a closer look at the cases of Chick-fil-A and others who have gained the edge from using data, and you will find a mix of data tools.
In the case of Chick-fil-A, it was Tableau for data aggregation and reporting, and ArcGIS for mapping store opening opportunities.
For the typical retailer, some categories of tools that can help you turn data into action include:
  • Price Intelligence tools - A competitive market intelligence tool will show you product opportunities to grow your market share. Some examples include Competitor Monitor and similar tools.
  • Data Visualization tools - Dashboards for all your data can help you turn raw data into pictorial views. Some examples are Tableau, Qlik, and FusionCharts
  • Sentiment Analysis tools - Sentiment tools show you how customers are responding to the products and brands you sell. Examples include Bottlenose and related tools.
  • Big Data tools - Big data tools help tame very large quantities of data and draw insights, especially for very large enterprises. Some tools for this include Hadoop, Spark, and Hive.
Getting Your Team Comfortable with Data
A second, and important, component, of putting data into action is getting your team comfortable with data. This is a complex topic on its own, and each retail business will need to take an adaptable approach. 
However, a few tips will help smooth the inevitable bumps in the road.
First, get buy in at the executive level. 
A notable piece of the Chick-fil-A success was how they got executives on board with using data. Chick-fil-A’s approach made it possible for every executive to understand the charts and real time data so they could use them for decisions.
In addition, you might want to try things on a small scale at first. Communicate the benefits to employees and explain why you are making investments into using data more in decision making.
Your Retail Business Should Be Using Data
Businesses of all kinds are embracing data to gain a competitive advantage. Given the ready availability of data and the tools for working with it, the advantages are self-evident. Fast food chain Chick-fil-A is just one of the many companies that have been able to translate data into strong growth. If their experience is anything to go by, retailers will want to become experts at data in order to thrive.
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