Walmart has been doing data analyses for years, allowing for their domination in the general store industry. They lose money on inexpensive products to sell more profitable ones; they even do analysis of peoples paths through their store to place items more effectively. Small businesses are more efficient in many ways because they lack excessive red tape but they also have been unable to afford the analytics negating or eliminating their edge. Changes in Business Intelligence models have made it much more affordable for small businesses to gain access to detailed company wide analytics granting them an opportunity to make gains in the business world. Small businesses that adopt these new techniques will have a major competitive advantage.
In 1992 Osco Drug stores took a look at what items customers purchased together. After a data analyst worked with the data, a discovery was made. Beer and diapers frequently sold together. After some experimentation they found that placing beer next to diapers beer sales increased. This was a great result because beer is a high profit item for retailers. Few business owners would have thought to try putting beer next to diapers; they really don’t have much in common. Data analysis was the only way Osco Drug stores could have found this relationship. This relationship makes sense in retrospect. A father shopping for diapers notices the beer in close proximity, on a whim he decides to buy the beer for his night in.