We love that e-commerce is a rapidly evolving sector. The latest tools allow us to achieve much more than was possible even just a couple of years ago. In fact, the tools at our disposal are advancing so quickly that it raises some serious questions:
- Will automated e-commerce systems outpace us all?
- Could product recommendation engines eventually completely take over the optimisation process?
- As split testing tools become increasingly capable, will the analyst one day simply be there to press “Go”?
- Will web analysts eventually be replaced by robots? (That last questions was asked primarily to give us an excuse to show a picture of a robot!)
The short answer: No
Your brain is still by far the most advanced tool you have. Here are just a few reasons why:
- Tools need configuration. We recently reconfigured a poorly-performing product recommendation engine for a client and saw an immediate 9% uplift in sales.
- You have to select the right tool for the job. The right tool in the right place can lead to a serious increase in profits, but beware: we also know of people who’ve been fired for committing their company to tools which proved ineffective.
- Reports and data need to be correctly interpreted. You have an understanding of human behaviour and an ability to think laterally and join up results that goes far beyond that of any computer. Your insights are crucial.
How to make the most of your tools
History makes it clear: those who embrace, rather than fear, new technologies do better in business. The Luddites (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite) did their best to stop mechanised looms from taking over, but I’m betting most of the clothing that you’re wearing right now wasn’t made completely by hand.
Here are some pointers for embracing and working with new tools:
- Understand your business. What do you offer? What sets you apart from your competitors? These are questions that require your focus. Clear business aims need to drive your analysis and therefore, the selection of the right tools for you.
- Value the customer experience. A laser like focus on customer experience can ensure that you build lasting, fruitful relationships. A good analyst asks the questions that aren’t always addressed by sales focused tools: “How does our sales experience make the customer feel?” “What else could we do to put visitors at ease?” If you really want to understand your customers, look for the story behind the data.
- Understand your tools. The likelihood is that you underutilise the tools that you already have. Google Analytics for example, is an immensely powerful tool and its capabilities are being expanded all the time.
- Make sure that you understand how your tools work and what they can and can’t do. Your role is to push their features to their limits and to ensure that your other tools and analysis, account for their weaknesses.
- Test new tools. The beauty of automated tools is that they can be tested against each other. Not sure which product recommendation engine to use? Ask for free trials and then split test wherever possible.
- Think outside of the box. Forgive such a clichéd phrase, but most tools work in very clearly defined boxes. An automated tool can optimise much of what you already have, but it’s up to you to come up with great new ways of using these tools.
- Train, read, learn & get excited. Set aside time for training; read blogs such as this one and learn all that you can. This is an exciting growing field and you should have high hopes for your career. Make sure that you keep learning and thriving!
We’d love to hear about your experiences. Have you benefited from automated tools? Have you had the pleasure of beating a product recommendation engine with your own analysis? Comments are welcome below.