A wealth of data available from unstructured sources can be easily uncovered for new insights

In the digital age data is vastly available through easily accessible channels like e-commerce or punch-out, but often overlooked are digital sources that have rich data, though in unstructured formats. Subsequently distributors and manufacturers may only think about gathering data insights from these sources and overlook other channels. However, if you want to uncover new opportunities, consider an unstructured source like emails to discover rich data insights.

What is unstructured data?

Unstructured data refers to data that resides in unstructured formats like email, faxes, or walk-in transactions. It’s typically not something that most distributors think about when making decisions based on sales data since insights from unstructured data were simply not able to be derived outside of manual organization. Up to 78% of organizations actually having little or no understanding of their unstructured data. All the while, email remains the preferred buying method for most customers in wholesale distribution, with 74% of orders still being received via email. As such, distributors are missing out on a substantial pool of actionable data by extracting only data from digital, organized sources.

Sales Order Analytics is a programmatic solution that analyzes incoming emailed purchase orders and provides insight into the frequency and order behavior of customers and which carry the biggest burden to process. Additionally, through automation of manual data entry, data from incoming emailed purchase orders can be scanned and reorganized into usable, meaningful data, and displayed on a dashboard for real-time overview. This solution helps distributors easily view data that would have otherwise been sitting in unstructured sources and not used to its full potential.

Why should I examine unstructured data?

Distributors who want a true view of customer purchase patterns and transaction preferences need to have access into unstructured data. Making use of this previously untapped resource can bring about new insights that can drive growth and increase competitiveness. If unstructured data is neglected, companies may be limiting decision making by using information based on only a small component of business operations.

Data from sales orders, for example, provide insights into patterns like customer preferences and the time it takes to serve each customer. With a better overview of combining information from both structured and unstructured formats, distributors can target inefficiencies as needed to maximize productivity, streamline processes, and increase margins. By understanding how customers want to buy from you, resources can be better allocated.

Continuous improvement is pivotal to staying competitive. Distributors should take steps to unlock the substantial amount of valuable data in unstructured sources where new opportunities potentially await. Consider automation for easy extraction and reorganization of unstructured data to help bridge the gap.