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For the month of May, Sidepart is diving into one of tech’s hottest topics: Data Collection. In an era of digital, the uses for data are almost endless. To stay competitive in the market, businesses must know all the different ways they can use data to boost performance. Today’s article will look at some easy and effective ways small businesses can collect data to reach their goals.


Wouldn’t it be great if we could read the customer’s minds? If we could be a fly on the wall as a shopper decides between a blue t-shirt and a red one. Maybe even as they decide between Longo’s and Metro? These insights would help businesses gain customers and build a competitive advantage.


Now, what if I told you businesses can read customer’s minds, or at least, come close to it? Data collection is every business’s secret weapon when it comes to mind reading. The information to be gained through data can reveal all the where, what, when’s and why’s of customer shopping habits and decisions. Need some more convincing on the amazing aspects of data? Check out our article here.


Although we may all agree that data is great for business, there is a false belief that data only benefits large businesses.  This is simply not true. Businesses of any size can benefit from data collection, as the insights to be gained don’t depend on size. Therefore, by choosing a data system that suits the unique needs and aspects of your small business, you too can learn more about your customers, operations, employees, etc.


Here are some steps to follow to begin collecting data for your small business:

Step 1: Goals & Gaps

Before diving into data, outline some key company goals. These goals can be anything from growing sales by 10% to improving overall company performance. Once you have these goals, going through processes and operations will show what data your company already has. If your business is collecting emails, using a loyalty program or has a POS system, you’ll likely already have some data. By comparing company goals to the data you have, any gaps that exist will be revealed. These gaps will then act as the guiding point in your choice of a data collection system. 

Step 2: Finding the right fit

Once you understand what data you need to fill any gaps and reach company goals. After this, choosing a system should be relatively easy. The best data collection system will vary company by company, depending on budgets, goals and company size. One or a combination of the following tools are great options to consider:

  • POS Systems – Can collect data on customer purchase sizes, purchase contents, payment methods, etc.
  • Excel Spreadsheet – Can input data on inventory levels, finances, purchase orders, etc.
  • Google Analytics – Can provide key demographic and insights on online traffic for ads and websites.
  • SaaS (Software as a Solution) – Selection of prebuilt software programs providing data collection systems.
  • Custom-built solution – Hiring a software company to build a customized tool is best for companies with specific or complex needs.

No matter what system you use, make sure it is scalable. This will save time and money when your business grows! 


Step 3: Privacy Privacy Privacy!!

As data breaches become more common in today’s digital world, businesses have a duty to protect customer’s data. Protection can come in the form of encryption, two-factor identification or establishing a security policy. Companies must use the appropriate tool(s) based on the sensitivity and nature of the data they hold.


To learn more about the importance of privacy in data collection and how privacy can be used as a competitive advantage, check out our article here.


Step 4:  Monitor and Adapt

Like most things in life, your first attempt with a data system may not go perfectly. After using the system for a few weeks, go back and check to see how effective the system is. This is a good time to address any issues that may have come up. You’ll want to know:

  • Does the system itself work properly?
  • Have the gaps changed?
  • Is the data you originally deemed important, actually important? Do changes need to be made?
  • How are employees using the new system? Does it work for them?
  • Are there any other pain points that need to be addressed?


Once the initial tweaks are made to the system, you’ll be off to the races! However, as your business grows and evolves your data strategies will have to change accordingly. Therefore, using annual checks to make sure your system is working will help make sure that data is helping your business reach its goals.


Following these steps is a great start to creating an effective data collection strategy for your business. However, collecting data is useless if you do not use it to gain key insights that help your company reach its goals. Appointing a team or process to analyze the data and act on the key insights is essential. Stay tuned for next week’s article that will share some great tips on analyzing and leveraging data.


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Referenced Sites

– (n.d.). Retrieved from

– How Your Small Business Can Win By Collecting Data. (2018, January 29). Retrieved from

– Poitier, K., & Infinit Datum. (2014, October 10). 5 Best Practices to Collect Data for your Small Business. Retrieved from

– Kh, R. (2018, February 05). 5 Innovative Ways Small Companies Can Collect Big Data. Retrieved from


Emily Cummings

Author Emily Cummings

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