Data Visualization and the Art of Storytelling

4 Mins read

You’ve got the power of now. It’s that proximity and in-the-moment thinking that retail is all about.” – Wesley Story

According to the Wharton School of Business, 50% of the audience was convinced by verbal presentations. Over two-thirds were convinced when visuals were added to the presentation. This is the power of visuals.

Companies with advanced data analytics capabilities are 2x more likely to use data frequently when making decisions, while 5x more likely to take faster decisions than their peers. Tableau reports that companies with data visualization tools are 28% more likely to find information compared to those relying on reporting and dashboards.

These statistics highlight the importance of data visualization in business decision-making. On their part, retail companies are turning towards data and visualization tools to gain a market advantage. Data visualization effectively enables retail managers to quickly identify and address business problems.

As a visual analytics tool, Tableau is transforming large volumes of retail data into actionable insights for business success. How does Tableau data visualization benefit the retail sector? Let’s see how it goes next.

5 benefits of Tableau Data Visualization in the Retail sector

Retail companies know they need to prioritize customers in today’s digital world. This includes finding ways to meet business objectives like customer engagement, marketing, and inventory management. Tableau-driven data visualization enables retailers with the best opportunities to understand their customers and market trends. The crucial value such tools provide is to liberate insights from the realm of data specialists. Easy-to-understand visualizations convey messages that business users can grasp quickly (and act upon).

Here are 5 major benefits of Tableau-based data visualization for the retail sector:

  1. Real-time in-store analytics

McKinsey reports that retail executives spend 40% of their time making decisions. In the age of omnichannel retail, real-time in-store analytics is improving decision-making and saving time. One such successful case study is that electronic retail company, Best Buy, opted for curbside pickups in the wake of the COVID restrictions.

The Tableau tool provides a real-time and easily-understandable view of the consumer’s brand preferences. Retail brands can extend this data through analytics and act quickly on visual insights to deliver customized marketing messages and promotions to shoppers. For instance, the Shopitize retail app could deliver real-time retail intelligence using the Tableau tool.

  1. Customer behavior

To provide a seamless and consistent experience, retailers need to have a deeper understanding of their customer behavior. Retail companies are leveraging data visualization (with interactive dashboards) to elevate their understanding of which strategies are delivering business value. For instance, promotional analysis dashboards can visualize customer data before, during, and after promotional campaigns.

Similarly, online shopping cart analysis is critical for retailers to analyze traffic sources, marketing campaigns, and customer behavior in specific market segments. Along with transactional data, customer behavior data can help retailers build brand loyalty programs (customized for each customer segment).

  1. IoT Analytics

The global market for IoT technology in retail is set to double to $4 billion (in 2027) from $2 billion in 2020. IoT-based data analytics has wide applications in the retail sector.  For instance, in-store IoT devices can measure the effectiveness of air quality and lighting on customer behavior. Connected IoT devices can also help in-store customers find their desired products.

Besides in-store analytics, IoT technology can facilitate retail companies in smart inventory management, shipment tracking, and smart energy management. Tableau-enabled IoT solutions can improve customer engagement by collecting data around:

  • How do retail consumers move around within store premises?
  • How much time do they spend in selected areas?
  • Which store areas must be incentivized to increase customer conversions?
  • Can a change in retail store design and layout improve customer engagement?
  1. Strong visualization

As a data visualization tool, Tableau makes it easier for business users in retailer organizations to interpret large datasets and complex calculations. Color-coded visualization is helping transform retail stores into an arena of data analytics. The Tableau tool is used by some of the leading 100 retailers globally.

Using Tableau dashboards, retailers can gain a broader understanding of their business operations across multiple stores. For example, the Chipotle brand was able to create a unified view of over 2,400 restaurants using Tableau. A move credited with saving over 10,000 man-hours of effort every month.

  1. Seamless integration with multiple data sources

For effective data visualization, the Tableau tool can connect data from multiple sources for analytics. This includes cloud-based data sources and relational databases. Besides, Tableau developers can connect to web-hosted data sources, Big Data, and even Excel spreadsheets.

Besides, retail organizations can leverage Tableau’s integration capability to combine sales activity with marketing performance. Retailers can measure the effectiveness of their sales and marketing campaigns by integrating “siloed” data sources. Using machine learning, Tableau dashboards can combine datasets to optimize their marketing investment and maximize their ROI.

How can retailers implement effective data visualization in their organizations using the Tableau tool? Let’s discuss next.

How retailers must implement data visualization

To implement an effective data visualization strategy, retailers can move ahead with the following 6-step process:

  1. Define their business requirement by including both business and technology stakeholders in the visualization team.
  2. Enable stakeholders to pull and share existing business insights defined by other team members.
  3. Reduce the levels of approvals and discussions and encourage creativity at every decision-making point.
  4. Expand the scope of available data sources to include Big Data sources like social media platforms, user demographics, and geographical data.
  5. Discover new sources of retail data and use more data to improve visualization capabilities and business insights.
  6. Leverage data science expertise for understanding the data and responding to key business questions.

Data visualization can go a long way to improve storytelling and data impact. Be it bar graphs, line plots, or more complex visualizations, the right elements must be used to display specific business data (based on the requirement). At the same time, retailers must follow the best practice of using minimalistic visualizations that do not have any distractions or unnecessary data patterns.


Following the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, retail companies are relying more on data-driven insights to improve their decision-making skills. As a data visualization tool, the Tableau tool is providing real-time insights into customer behavior and market trends with its visual dashboards to business leaders.

As a technology company, Groupsoft has worked with global retailers to drive their business transformation. With over 100 retail customers spread over 30 countries, we provide end-to-end consultation and implementation to both small and large retailers.

Looking for a trusted delivery partner in retail technology? Contact us today.

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About author
Debraj Roy is a Strategic thinker, his experience, dedication, analytical approach, and understanding of the business environment help in driving more results. Debraj can blend technology and business strategy to develop compelling plans for new initiatives to create successful customers. He is Vice President of Analytics at Groupsoft.
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