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Is your business intelligence (BI) providing genuine data insight or, nowadays, does BI really mean ‘data management’ The challenge you face when it comes to BI has probably changed over the years.

When the concept of BI first entered the popular arena, the issue was getting hold of data. Now, if anything, you probably have too much of it.

For smaller, mainly offline wholesalers, you are generating data points daily that may be difficult to collate, manage and make judgements on. There’s data in spreadsheets and accounts software, data to do with inventory and orders, but getting that data into something that can have an effect on your business is a constant challenge.

For larger wholesalers who already have some level of online element, you may well be paying large amounts of money for BI but the same problems still exist. The tools are more sophisticated, but an increasing number of data sources make finding the right answer just as complex. Making the data ‘look good’, so that it can be used in multiple business contexts, also presents a constant challenge.

The purpose of BI

When we find wholesalers who are in either of those scenarios then we find a good first step is to discuss why BI for wholesalers is so important in the first place.

With so much data we often find the task has become data management rather than data insight.

BI is only important for wholesalers if it really makes a difference to what you do, if it provides you with data that you didn’t have before.

Put simply: BI should help to provide answers, not create more questions.

If your BI does not do that at the moment then it’s not really BI; it’s a data management task that is adding to your workload without giving you the answers you need to improve your business.

With the approach to BI refreshed and a clean run at things, there’s a different question to ask.

What questions do you have as a business and where could the answers take you?

Simplifying the questions

These are just some of the business questions that wholesalers have told us they have, which good BI can help to answer:


  • What is our average order size?
  • What are customers searching for most often?
  • What are customers searching for that we currently don’t supply?
  • How many customers have ordered any given recently introduced SKU?
  • How many customers have an account with us but either have not ordered or do not order in line with our average order frequency?

Putting the answers into action to effectively improve your wholesale business

Remember: good BI is not about the data, the question or even the answer; it is about empowering all of those things to make a tangible difference to your business.

So, let’s say you also are curious about customer uptake, as per the above question: How many customers have an account with us but either have not ordered or do not order in line with our average order frequency?

The answer to this question should be a list of customers. Let’s say that, on average, customers order with you four times a month. The answer to this question would be a list of customers who order less than four times a month.

The data could be further segmented into customers who order three times a month, twice a month and so on, down to inactive accounts.

With that information you can now make changes that have an impact on your business.

Customers who order three times a month could be offered coupons that reward them for placing four orders in a month, for example. Inactive accounts may have an issue with your order process or with using your ecommerce platform. These accounts could be approached with educational content around how your order process works or a coupon that rewards their first orders.

The next impact of those approaches should be increased orders and increased revenue. A genuine positive impact on your business.

Insight that has impact

However you choose to use the BI you collect it’s important to remember that the end goal is business improvement.

Data and answers to questions are useful. But business improvement is the end goal of any BI process that isn’t simply a data management exercise.

If you'd like to find out how using b2b.store can help grow your business get in touch with the team on the button below.