In years past, the term “peak season” has typically referred to the higher sales, and in turn the higher profits, retailers see in late Q4. But now that data on every aspect of our businesses is readily available, we need to expand the conversation past revenue to include a far more valuable benefit: Business and consumer insights that can drive a more profitable strategy in 2019.

In fact, during peak season 2018 your business likely collected so much data that trying to get value from it can be overwhelming. Assuming your focus is ecommerce, you’re gathering purchase and customer information from your websites and mobile applications. Perhaps you’re connecting promotional offers to point-of-sale efforts. Digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa give us data about consumer needs and wants. Google Shopping is predicted to have the largest growth opportunity for retailers ever in 2019. We’re even starting to understand how to gather data from customer interactions with products inside physical stores.

Simply getting your arms around this vast volume and variety of data can be challenging. But if you can turn it into enhanced knowledge of your customers, their product preferences and how they like to buy, it will be a truly worthwhile effort.

Here are just a few areas retailers are using peak season data to improve future strategies, as well as some questions to consider when examining that data:

Improving products and refocusing production

Higher Q4 revenue is always welcome. But look beyond the dollars and examine your sales and customer data to uncover longer-lasting benefits and growth strategies. What products did customers flock to this year? Was there a lower price point for that item? How effective were your loss leaders in getting customers through the door? And if a specific item saw a higher rate of returns, what was the reason?

Understanding why consumers accepted or rejected a particular item can help you shift output in 2019. You can stock up on items that sell and reduce production on those that don’t, saving time and money in production and in your fulfillment centers. You can also provide sales and returns…