With the wild success of eCommerce over the years, it’s no wonder that aspiring entrepreneurs see online retail as a good choice for a business venture. There are plenty of guides online for how to choose your niche and acquire any needed licenses, and with online shopping platforms available to help you build your site, eCommerce may seem like the easiest way to succeed.
Don’t be fooled, however. Starting any kind of business is an incredible challenge, and growing one can be even harder. One of the best tools available to any merchant these days is data virtualization.
You’re probably wondering what is data virtualization? Essentially, it’s a software solution that combines information from multiple disparate data sources into a single source of truth. To put it another way, it creates a data layer that incorporates all of the data across your entire enterprise and presents it to you in real-time.
Unlike ETL (extract, transform, load) systems that simply replicate data, data virtualization software actually leaves the data in the source systems while presenting it. This ability to connect directly to the data, rather than simply gathering it, guarantees that everything you see is accurate and up to date.
Here are some great ways that data virtualization can help you grow your online business.
As an online merchant, you’re nothing without your inventory. You need to find out what products are popular and make sure you’re stocked with them at all times. Of course, there’s more to it than that, and there are countless reasons why every business needs reliable inventory management.
Data virtualization provides you with dependable, real-time data on what products you have available, where they’re stocked, and when they’ll need to be restocked. A single database for all your inventory needs helps you track what products sell the fastest, so you can restock faster and boost profits.
It also helps you compare the costs of storing your products to the profit of selling them, letting you come up with ways to store them more efficiently. With more accurate forecasting, you can also avoid becoming overstocked with products that aren’t selling in the first place.
Customers expect the ultimate in convenience these days, and are used to being able to shop where they want and when they want, thanks to mobile payments and the Internet of Things (IoT). This is actually great for you for a variety of reasons but mainly because it means you can make profits around the clock. Data virtualization gives you an opportunity to unify your business analytics, so you can simultaneously enact improvements in your marketing, supply chain, and customer service based on current customer behavior.
Instead of having to rely on past performance to determine which products to sell or come up with marketing campaigns for, you can track live customer and sales data using information from all your data sources. In a world where customer tastes and behaviors can change overnight, business owners need to be able to react just as quickly. You can even use all of the data that you’ve collected to improve your customer service, increasing the odds that you’ll retain existing ones.
Your data security should be of utmost importance, especially if you’re trying to avoid having a TMF merchant account. This stands for terminated merchant file, and it’s a database maintained by MasterCard that keeps track of high-risk merchants. You can be placed on the TMF list for several reasons, but one of the most common reasons to end up on the blacklist is from data breaches that result in customer account data or financial information being stolen.
Data virtualization preserves your security by constantly tracking all data streams to their source and confirming the user’s identity. Since online retailers often rely on big data it’s crucial to have a platform that can quickly process everything and visualize it in an easily understandable way.
Running any type of business is likely to be one of the greatest challenges you’ve ever undertaken, but data virtualization lets you simplify things as much as possible.