All key business decisions need to be based on existing data.

I was talking with a newsagent recently and they said a particular range of greeting cards was not working for them. Upon checking their data, I found that the stock turn for this range was above the average for their greeting card department.

Not happy about the evidence contradicting their story, their argument changed to one about their card supplier and how sales were down. I laid out a sales report from their computer system comparing cards to the rest of the business. The whole business, outside of lottery revenue, was down 13%, cards were down 6%. Cards were performing better than the whole of the business.

The evidence contradicted the newsagent’s belief.

This is tough to confront as often in such circumstances as many retailers prefer what they believe compared to what their own data shows.

Now more than ever independent retailers need to make business decisions and undertake business planning using accurate data more than gut feel or long-held beliefs. So much around us is changing from disruption to print, disruption to traffic generating agency businesses and more regulation on tobacco. There is also disruption in the way people shop, the challenges that the major supermarkets have been facing in the UK with Aldi and Lidl is evidence of this.

When you are planning to make significant changes in your business, spend money on stock, adjust your roster or meet with a supplier representative – have your business data in front of you. The more data-driven your discussions and decisions the more money you will make. I can guarantee it.