Being skilled at data storytelling is critical in every business, and I’ve seen it hard at work specifically in the world of luxury retail, the industry I’ve been lucky enough to analyze and explore. Data is created with every physical interaction in a store and every click on a screen, and decisions must keep pace of this constant stream of information. On top of that, almost every retail initiative requires collaboration between many people and teams, including finance, merchandising, marketing, stores, visual, and logistics, to name a few. By presenting a clear flow of analysis that all teams and stakeholders can follow with an actionable conclusion, I’m able to motivate my team and drive results.
By completing an analysis of style selling by price point, I may discover that my customers buy more handbags that cost $500 than handbags that cost $1,000. This might be the opposite of what my buyers and sales associates expected. Based on this price-sensitivity insight, my new strategy might be to increase the number of handbags priced below $500 and decrease the number of handbags priced above $1,000. In order to get my team to support this change in action, I frame my data story with more impactful visual displays for the buyers and more satisfying store experiences for the sales associates. By presenting the data with my audience in mind, I can communicate effectively with all team members, especially those who may not be motivated by numbers or percentages but instead understand a story about meeting customer needs and delivering high-quality service.
Data storytelling is utilized across many industries and topics, borrowing from many story arches that we already know and love. In the TED Talk “The Math Behind Basketball’s Wildest Moves,” Rajiv Maheswaran employs the excitement and pace of a basketball game highlight reel to tell the data story of movement in our everyday lives. He grabs us from the start with high-tech visuals that turn pro-basketball plays into “moving” data “dots.” From these data points, he decodes the patterns found in game-winning plays with the excitement of a sportscaster.
By the end of the 12-minute presentation, he has not only convinced us of the importance of tracking movement to create more basketball wins, but that our movements — as regular people at work, at home, and beyond — can generate insights that create more wins for us in the game of life.