The Four Ways Unstructured Data Can Improve Your Business

Dig unstructured sources for data that reveals valuable insights into customer transaction behaviors

With changing behaviors and buying preferences, it can be a challenge for distributors and manufacturers to fully grasp a complete understanding of customer needs. As discussed in a previous post, decision makers often rely on easily accessible digital channels such as e-commerce or punch-out for customer transaction insights. Extracting information solely from those sources however, does not provide a complete picture of customer transactions. They might be overlooking a great deal of other valuable insights. Unstructured data that remains in unorganized and hard to access formats such as e-mail orders can provide new actionable business intelligence.


Deploying Sales Order Analytics to extract and map unstructured data helps easily derive and manage information from emailed orders. With an in-depth look into customer transaction trends, decision makers have the opportunity to access data points that might have previously been missed. Tapping into unstructured data from email orders helps reveal new patterns and trends. Distributors and manufacturers can then gain a better understanding of which sales and customer service processes may require improvements and base strategic decisions on more accurate and complete insights.


Four hidden opportunities that can be uncovered from emailed orders:

  • Timing Patterns: Understanding when purchase orders typically get placed during the day allows distributors and manufacturers to allocate staff accordingly. This information can also help to time discount offers or promotions to target customers during peak times, increasing opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell.
  • Order Volume: Additional insight into periods of high/low order volumes help distributors and manufacturers manage inventory. This is because they now have a more accurate sense of the time and volume of products customers need during a given period. Understanding when orders are placed as well as the quantity of orders enables distributors to ensure inventory is appropriately stocked and guarantees order fulfillment.
  • High-Traffic Channels: With data from all sales channels including but not limited to e-mails, decision makers can identify the channel with the highest customer traffic. They can then adjust operational requirements and introduce digital solutions as needed to increase efficiency. For example, if e-commerce is the most used platform, consider document automation to process orders placed online into existing ERP systems.
  • Buyer Habits: Core to growth is understanding and responding to customer needs. Therefore, information on customer transaction preferences and buying habits are essential to profitability and productivity. A comprehensive snapshot of customer transactions enabled by data from all sales channels ultimately creates a more competitive business. Customer profiles created using this data can be used by sales reps to deliver targeted sales messages and personalized service.


There is a substantial amount of usable data sitting in unstructured sources like emailed orders. In today’s challenging marketplace, smart distributors and manufacturers must consider new ways to maintain a competitive edge. Digging into untapped data sources and automating processes via automated order management software can lead to more advantages and opportunities to better serve customers.