Must-Haves for an eCommerce Business Intelligence Toolkit
Learn about eCommerce business intelligence tools that are worth looking at right now, and get a high-level overview of their features.
The big data bang led to the expansion of various business intelligence tools used OOTB or as a basis for custom BI solutions. Indeed, what’s the reason to collect data unless you can put it through a rigorous analytical cycle? Insights generated within this cycle have then a tremendous effect on decision-making.
ECommerce is a kind of industry that vitally needs data analytics. The abundance of customer information to process requires a thorough analytical approach powered with top-notch business intelligence tools.
Luckily, numerous BI tools have specific features for eCommerce analytics. Besides, many BI tools that don’t address eCommerce, in particular, will be still a good fit for online businesses because of their simplicity and robustness of features. All of these products have one thing in common. They allow taking a deep dive into valuable business data.
This is one of the most popular data analytics platforms. It successfully went public 5 years ago and haven’t lost its popularity ever since.
What Tableau Does
It allows users to analyze data through visualizations, dashboards, and views that blend data from various sources. The owner connects Tableau with the data warehouse, and the users can start exploring the data efficiently by simply dragging and dropping available points on the Tableau canvas.
Why Tableau is Great
First of all, Tableau doesn’t require any advanced programming skills. While there are scripts that can be used to enhance the experience, non-tech users can easily work with the tool right from the start. All you need for the essential experience is the Tableau app – web, desktop or mobile. The latter has native versions for both iOS and Android.
It can be easily integrated with other tools, for example, with Salesforce, to embed specific dashboards and graphs within them. It’s also easy to collaborate and comment on all the various projects that are stored in Tableau.
Why Tableau is Great for eCommerce
ECommerce has tons of data that is granular and siloed. This means that it’s often hard to combine various sources to see the bigger picture. With Tableau, sales and marketing people can start building analytics pipelines without involving developers. That, of course, apart from the initial setup.
This tool is famous for its interactive dashboards. It allows you to track and analyze data almost in real time. It might be a bit more complicated than Tableau but only because the drag-and-drop functionality is rudimentary and mostly serves as a design feature. With Chartio, users can build SQL-like queries within the interface (AND, OR, ANY, etc.) and visualize them in dashboards.
Why Chartio is Great
Apart from being one of the most accessible data visualization tools, it allows people with some basic SQL knowledge to build advanced dashboards and share them with colleagues. These dashboards can be used for further data exploration and performance tracking. This is BI democratization at its finest.
Why Chartio is Great for eCommerce
Chartio has an extensive suite of available data sources that specifically target eCommerce businesses. For example, not many BI solutions can connect to Bing Ads, DoubleClick, Outbrain, and other more exotic sources that are needed for an eCommerce business but will often be useless for other industries.
This BI solution is similar in its general concept to the previous two, but with one significant difference. It works in-database and supports the most popular relational databases and warehouses (Redshift, PostgreSQL, etc.). This means that you’re getting real-time data through reports and dashboard generated by Looker.
Why Looker is Great
Looker has its own ‘language,’ LookML, which allows any user to quickly build SQL queries without knowing any operators or having any data analytics experience. It has some pretty flexible search functionality that will enable you to look for data just like you would google it.
Why Looker is Great for eCommerce
It has specific modules (blocks, apps) that are like pre-built functions with specific tasks. So you don’t have to code anything or create standard dashboards from scratch.
Also, there are functions explicitly designed for eCommerce stores. For example, there’s the brand and category affinity module, which shows correlations between brands and products that are interesting to people.
This information can be used for cross-selling and upselling that traditionally generate a lot of revenue for eCommerce businesses.
This is a whole different beast compared to the tools mentioned previously. It includes advanced features like predictive analytics and is famous for its scalability. Its in-chip technology allows you to use your own server’s (computer’s) cache to extract and process data. It’s also cost-effective if you choose to go for RAM as your data processing vehicle. In-chip resources can significantly offload RAM and lead to better resource management within your data warehouse. So, this is a product for bigger eCommerce businesses that are rapidly expanding.
Why Sisense is Great
It has a ton of powerful features, like the ability to automatically recognize data and blend it into a single coherent picture of your business. It has a pretty flexible pricing policy, so smaller stores shouldn’t be discouraged to check it out. Its interface is even more intuitive than in any of the previously mentioned tools, making access to data even broader across your organization.
Why Sisense is Great for eCommerce
Since this company is geared towards larger enterprises, it already has a variety of specific built-in dashboards. ECommerce is not an exception. Sisense has decks of dashboards designed with particular goals in mind. For example, the retail/eCommerce distribution template has 5 dashboards that were created with the help of retail experts to allow clients to discover gaps in profitability right out the gate. No advanced preparations on the side of your business personnel required.
If you’re running an eCommerce business that also has brick-and-mortar locations - this might be one of the best options for you.
This is another heavy-weight eCommerce business intelligence tool, which offers unprecedented access to business information for any user with or without prior BI experience. It works in real time and broadcasts data across the organization through custom alerts, which can be set up for specific events/changes within your data stream.
Updates, alerts, and reports generated by Domo are easy to share with coworkers. They become especially useful when you have a complex organization that spans multiple departments. This often eliminates the need to hold meetings and discuss performance because data is readily available to almost anybody.
Why Domo is Great
One of the standout features of Domo is Magic ETL, which is a set of tools that can help you generate data streams and present them in convenient formats. The suite is built around drag-n-drop functionality and can help you ‘grab’ data from anywhere and turn it into anything. For example, Salesforce data can easily be blended with data from an Excel spreadsheet.
Why Domo is Great for eCommerce
Domo provides incredible visibility into the entire eCommerce operational chain. For example, it has a suite of features designed for supply chain management. The built-in predictive capability can point to specific seasonal trends and even build supply chain predictions based on possible weather patterns. All this contributes to better operations, with no more stock-outs or unexpected demand spikes.
Microsoft Power BI
This is Microsoft’s take on how a large BI and data visualization tool should look like. It’s a cloud-based solution, so sharing findings is extremely easy. It has an extensive suite of data visualization features and works with a variety of datasets. But it’s still more complicated to operate than tools like Tableau, which dominate the visualization game. Just like any of the tools above, it can connect to various data sources within your organization and generate single views for them, making business analysis easier to perform.
Why Power BI is Great
One of the biggest advantages of this product is the fact that it comes with a free desktop version. Of course, it has limitations such as the amount of associated storage, but given that it’s free, the smallest stores wouldn’t mind this restriction. While it’s more complicated to generate BI dashboards in Power BI than in many other tools on this list, they make up for it by being extremely robust – the amount of various data visualizations in Power BI is extensive.
When a company’s BI needs become bigger than the capabilities of a limited desktop version, businesses can turn their attention to two paid subscriptions. Both Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium offer more diversified BI features while enabling employees to play with larger data sets, manage the user access to particular data, as well as collaborate on their reports and turn them into interactive presentations.
It should be said that Power BI is also included in the ready-to-use collaboration suites, such as Office 365 and Microsoft 365. So whenever an ecommerce business gets an enterprise subscription, they can leverage the Power BI features with no additional fees.
Why Power BI is Great for eCommerce
Power BI is a perfect platform for eCommerce businesses that either just start out with analytics or are ready to switch to advanced BI tools. The best thing about it is that Microsoft provides a ton of useful educational materials. And since the product is widespread, you won’t have any problem finding a professional development team that can setup BI dashboards with Power BI.
What to Choose for Your eCommerce Business?
Remember that we only listed some of the leading BI solutions that particularly fit eCommerce needs. There are many other products in this niche. An excellent way to start would be to learn more about other products in the Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms, one of the most authoritative studies of BI and analytics tools.
Eventually, it all depends on your requirements. Are you just looking to democratize access to data? Then Chartio should work for that. Are you looking to empower sales with better reporting tools? Then Domo might work. And so on.
If you’re not sure about the exact eCommerce business intelligence tool that would be perfect for your business - reach out to us, as we have years of experience in consulting on highly efficient and scalable BI solutions for eCommerce and implementing them.
Have a project in mind but need some help implementing it? Drop us a line: