Big data for small business from credit card processors

The nice thing about e-commerce is it’s easy to collect a lot of valuable data.

  • What brought them to your store.
  • What they looked at, for how long, and if they bought.
  • Where they live.

But, when running a small local brick and mortar business, asking all those questions would just tick off a customer. Any Radio Shack shopper remembers always being quizzed for their address so they could send you endless mailings.

Loyalty cards were a strategy to gain customer insight- and soon all our wallets were bulging with cards from the grocery store, the gas station, the drug store and the hardware store. Call them rewards cards or frequent buyer cards or VIP, but there was always a quid pro quo, in exchange for the data- the customer would get a discount. The retailer had to pay to get access to data it already had- but, wanted to put a name to it. Generally, this is a strategy pursued by larger companies, smaller ones, couldn’t be bothered with it.

Enter a new player. In the race to the bottom to get a scrape of every sale, one of the big boys of credit card processing – FirstData, decided to up their game- rolling in a whole suite of data apps along with their credit card processing and terminal. How big is FirstData? They supposedly process over half of all credit card transactions.

Their product is called “Clover” and you can buy it from them direct, or through all kinds of middle men. Most of them make their sale pitch purely about how they are cheaper than the other guy- few have much else in their bag of tricks, despite this group of tools that are also included.

If you use Insightics with Clover, you have an incredibly powerful analytic tool that will give you a comprehensive view of customer spending, for cash, check and card transactions.

  • See where your customer density displayed on a map. This will allow you to see where marketing efforts have been working and where there is potential for future promotions.
  • Identify products that are trending one way or another. This will help you see changes in product trends in your local environment and also help in making pricing/specials decision making.
  • See how your competitors are doing. Are you riding the same waves as other similar businesses in your area or are you ahead or behind them?
  • Know how weather affects traffic into your business. This will allow you to make staffing decisions based on forecasts.  Know what sells best based on the weather.  Yeah, it’s true.  Consumer buying decisions change with the weather.
  • Add notes as data points as often as you like. When you make a staffing change, menu or inventory change, marketing or promotion, really any changes you make to your business can be added to Insightics to help you find out if it was a good move or if it really had a positive return on your investment.

Source: Small businesses can now use big data |

Typical of a mega business trying to speak to small businesses- FirstData/Clover/Insightics can’t put together a super clear presentation or even decide what the name of the product is (It may now be called Clover Insights). There is an API– which should make it easy to hook into the data for integration in your CRM/Marketing automation system.

They have a friendly video introduction of the product- with the typical token hipster business, but don’t let that scare you:

Being able to see where your customers live, track sales data vs your competition (remember, they are called FirstData for a reason) and overlay that vs weather, days of the week, and to give you insight a cash register wouldn’t all built into the credit card processing solution. They’ve also integrated their platform with a whole bunch of apps- some free, some with monthly fees- to add loyalty/rewards cards, or gift cards etc. See the list here: Clover App Market.

Of course, the flipside to all this is that your competitors are also seeing your data- although anonymized.

And since the Clover system is a POS- even cash sales numbers are being gathered.

If you are interested in finding out more on how to save money on credit card processing- and add the benefits of big data, or to find out how to make more use out of your data, just drop us a note and we’ll be glad to steer you in the right direction.

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Populate your CRM from your LinkedIn Contacts

Getting started with CRM can be difficult- how to build a lead base quickly can be the most difficult task for any new sales person. However, if they’ve got a personal network, especially using LinkedIn, importing your contacts is easy peasy with this tip:

Export your LinkedIn contacts

You can easily transfer from contacts from LinkedIn to another service by visiting this page: http://www.linkedin.com/addressBookExport and selecting from the available options. You can save your address book in one of several spreadsheet formats tailor-made for Outlook or Yahoo! Mail or as a VCF file which is compatible with a Mac OS Address Book.

via 5 things you didn’t know you could do with LinkedIn – 10,000 Words.

You can also export your Outlook contacts that way as well. Unfortunately the Apple Address book doesn’t easily spit out CSV- only VCF files. Our CRM of choice, the open source vTigerCRM, doesn’t have a really great vCard import capability (best trick- import to Gmail contacts- then export).

The only downfall with LinkedIn is most people don’t have complete contact info available- you are lucky to get name, company, title, and e-mail address at most. However, that’s when you set up a mass-mailing to direct them to a portal contact update page to fill in the rest of the data you need- these are your business associates after all.

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