Let’s Go Shopping: How Retailers Are Using Big Data

how retailers are using big data

It’s no secret that big data and modern analytics tools can help any brand or business make better decisions. It can also deliver the kind of insights necessary to make accurate predictions for future interactions with customers.

And there’s no time more crucial for this kind of data, than the end of the year during the holidays. Why? Simply because it’s the busiest shopping season of the year, and staying in tune with what your customers want can mean the difference between millions and billions in revenue.

For some retailers, the holidays are so influential, that incoming revenue makes up about 30 percent of their entire annual sales. A flop or sub-optimal performance during the holiday could effectively ruin a business.

Retailers – including you – can make sure that doesn’t happen by tapping into big data systems and modern tracking software.

Predictive Data Helps Plan Ahead

Predictive consumer and demographic data can help retailers understand buyer behaviors and trends. This allows them to better plan for online and in-store habits, trending products, popular topics and content, and much more.

For instance, knowing that a particular doll you carry is in high-demand for the upcoming holiday season could be lucrative in terms of marketing. You could establish or kickstart promotions and deals that involve said doll to entice customers to make bigger purchases. Say, including the doll with every purchase of a new game console, or something similar.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Knowing what your customers are interested in and what they’re willing to spend their money on is necessary to making a big impact in the industry. It will also give you leverage and advantage over the competition, especially if they’re not using the same analytics tools and gathering the same insights.

Spotify, a music streaming service, uses customer and user data to deliver targeted and more personalized recommendations. Naturally, this drives up the total listening time of their playlists and improves overall revenue for the company.

Inventory Management Becomes Automatic 

One of the worst things about scaling up – or down – for the holidays, especially in retail, is dealing with your current stock or inventory. Management and tracking of these items, in particular, can be harrowing and tedious. That’s a problem during the season, where it’s important that you remain ideally stocked for popular items. You never want too much so it sits around wasting away, but you never want too little so that you run out in the middle of a huge buyer rush.

It just so happens that predictive analytics and big data can also be used to maintain smarter inventory management procedures and policies. They become even more powerful when paired with machine learning functionality. The system can essentially handle the reordering and tracking of all items, without much oversight.

On the consumer side of things, IBM created an app powered by their AI platform Watson to help people decide when and where is the best time to buy certain popular products, during the upcoming holiday season. Related back to your business in retail, this entices customers to seek out various channels or places in order to find a particular product. You can tap into that information to improve your own sales and opportunities.

Accurately Gauge Hardware and Personnel Requirements

Being honest, there’s just no way to know for sure how much traffic and business you’ll receive during the holidays. This can lead to a juggling effect, where you’re worried about boosting available hardware, devices, and even personnel to make up for a huge rush. That’s an incredible waste of money and resources if the traffic doesn’t pan out as expected.

Worse yet, customers and employees have terrible experiences when you’re not prepared for a rush. Inventory tracking systems, point-of-sale equipment, stocking and loading hardware, and much more become a huge concern when dealing with larger crowds. You have to maintain the appropriate hardware as much as you do the right amount of employees.

Through a combination of historical data and predictive techniques, big data systems can help retailers better prepare for this sort of thing.

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Nathan P. Sykes

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