Editor’s Note: This is the final article in a three-part Create Smarter Businesses series, presented by Conexiom. View the entire series at http://bit.ly/Conexiom. 

In parts one and two of this series, we examined the differences between unstructured and structured data. We also analyzed how incorporating unstructured data into decision-making enables organizations to make better, smarter, more informed decisions with enhanced awareness of customer buying habits.

As the majority of customers send purchase orders through email, this channel presents the largest collection of valuable and unmined unstructured data. Email data can provide companies with insight into when, where, and what customers are purchasing. These insights can be leveraged by distributors to increase not only sales but also the value of sales and consequently profitability.


The challenge for many organizations is making the most of data and integrating these insights into business operations to deliver a tangible benefit and achieve a competitive edge. To leverage this through insights mined from unstructured data, distributors need to identify where, when, and what customers are purchasing and use this valuable information to create comprehensive customer profiles. Companies can then combine this knowledge with business strategies to increase sales and reduce costs.

By analyzing unstructured data from emails, distributors can identify which sales channels see the highest volume and value of sales. They can also evaluate which channels are less popular and allocate resources accordingly. For example, if the majority of customers conduct their purchases online, distributors can look to increase the platform’s usability to maximize this asset. If they would prefer to send purchase orders through email, organizations can look to streamline this process and utilize technologies that can automate emailed purchase orders into structured sales orders.

This has the additional benefit of enabling distributors to mine the unstructured data contained within emails for insights they might have otherwise overlooked.

As these insights can reveal when the majority of customers purchase products, distributors can establish peak and off-peak trading times. This enables operations to allocate staff accordingly and sales and marketing teams to focus customer outreach during these times. With information on the volume of products customers are likely to need during a given period, distributors can better manage their inventories to deliver cost savings. By approaching customers at the right time of day and supporting this with targeted marketing efforts, distributors can increase the opportunity to increase both the value and volume of sales.

With knowledge of where and when customers make a purchase, distributors can then direct their attention to what their customers are purchasing and how much. This will provide a picture of which products are in demand and which products have fallen out of favor.


This knowledge can then be applied across the business to increase profitability. For example, distributors can identify market trends, and by incorporating this knowledge into marketing strategies, companies can run promotions and discounts that align to off-peak and peak times.

The data can also be used to create more detailed sales forecasts to better stock inventories. By increasing order fulfillment, companies can boost customer satisfaction and consequently customer loyalty.

With an overview of where, when, and what products customers are purchasing, distributors can create comprehensive customer profiles to better target customer needs. With profiles based on insights gathered from hard data rather than assumptions, organizations are better positioned to not only understand customer needs but are also better equipped to respond to those needs and create a competitive advantage.

While email is a huge repository for unstructured data that can deliver actionable business insight, it’s important to realize that data is most valuable when combined rather than viewed in isolation. By harnessing unstructured and structured data from a number of different systems, distributors can create a holistic overview of operations and insights into both threats and opportunities. This information can then be integrated into business strategy to reduce costs, increase sales and consequently, profitability.

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