In our previous blog entry, we gave you three tips for analysing your business’s data successfully. But what sort of data should you store for analysis in the first place?

An important part of data analysis is recognising what types of data are relevant.

Our hosted ELK solution is a fast, effective tool for making sense of raw information, but you need to know what information to feed into it.

1. Online and offline customer visits and purchases

Clearly, the most essential information to store is how many customers visited your business premises, how many visited your business’s website and what both groups bought. It’s important to record what products or services customers are purchasing so that you can see what your business can sell easily and what it has difficulty selling. It’s also critical that you know how many customers visited your premises and website, so that you know whether the number of people making purchases is appropriate to the number of visitors. If not, you may need to think of a way to engage your visitors and turn them into customers more effectively.

Recording the number of prospective customers who enter your store or visit your website will also enable you to see if you are attracting enough visitors in the first place. Finally, it’s necessary to record online and physical visits and purchases separately because your online visitors may behave differently to your physical visitors. Our ELK stack solution uses Logstash 2 and Elasticsearch 2 to store data, and we transfer your data to our ELK stack ourselves, so you will find that storing this data without becoming overwhelmed by variables is easy.

2. Time and place of purchase

The season and time of day may affect what products and services your customers invest in, so it’s important to record information on when your individual products and services are being purchased. This will enable you to adjust the quantities of each product you buy in or the extent to which you promote different products or services. If your business has multiple branches, it’s also important to record the location of purchases, as locale may affect customers’ buying habits.

3. Pricing, store layout, advertising and web design

It’s vital that you store all the information related to your strategy for encouraging uptake of your products and services. The store layout, the web design, the manner in which you promoted your products and services and the way you priced them at different times all affect the number of units sold. It’s therefore important to feed this information into the ELK stack so that you can work out which business strategy is most effective.

4. Profit

It’s easy to lose track of the bottom line when you’re trying to understand how customer behaviour and business strategy interact with each other. However, profit is the true sign of your business’s level of success. Don’t forget to store your profits in the ELK stack.

Cross-referencing and comprehending all the data sets we have listed above may seem like an intimidating undertaking, but there’s no reason to panic. Our hosted ELK solution uses Kibana 4.2, which allows you to visualise information using a huge range of graphs and charts, so that you can understand it intuitively. Provided you store all the data we’ve recommended, you will be able to use it to understand your customers and develop your business.