By now, you’ve probably heard the term ‘Big Data’ being thrown around, but you might not properly appreciate its value in the retail market. The term simply refers to the sudden and enormous onslaught of data that has become available to companies thanks to the huge portions of our lives spent interacting in the online world, where everything can be tracked and measured. However, as beneficial as that may sound, it has always been a bit of a sticking point for companies, since there suddenly was simply too much data to be correlated and understood. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by the multinational software firm Oracle, 93% of North American executives interviewed feel they’re losing money by not properly taking advantage of all the data that’s available to them.
Originally only the domain of big companies with massive budgets, data analysis has finally been accepted by smaller companies as one of most valuable things to come out of the digital revolution. To stay competitive, it’s impossible to avoid – but thanks to new types of software that have been developed, meaningful Big Data analysis is finally within reach of businesses of all sizes. While it may seem like a daunting prospect to begin sifting through it all, the key is to start small. For e-commerce retailers, for example, examining something like website bounce rates and conversion rates, tweaking various aspects of your pages and seeing if the changes generate improvements. As you start to see benefits from the process, the value of Big Data analysis will become readily apparent.
One of the most interesting ideas to come from the Big Data revolution is the ability to predict coming retail trends. Even as statisticians have long been doing with census reports and other data, having properly correlated information over a large number of data points can give some extremely beneficial insights into market fluctuations and trends that may occur (see our recent post on when to start your winter sale, for example). Knowing about these trends ahead of time, naturally, can allow retailers to carefully plot how to maximize profits from sales and other time-sensitive events, while getting ahead of the competition.
Another interesting idea that Big Data presents to retailers is the ability to monitor your competition’s interactions, whether it’s through price monitoring or keeping tabs on new products and promotions. Once you’ve gotten your own data sets under control, it can be incredibly beneficial to see what the competition is up to and how their mistakes and successes can benefit your business; so much of what consumers and businesses do online is freely public and available that it can be tracked as carefully as your own internal company data. Many retailers are seeing huge increases in their profits due to this ability to capitalize on missteps by the competition, and this is rapidly becoming a necessity in order to gain an advantage in the marketplace. Don’t get left behind by the Big Data revolution – look into a competitor monitoring solution as a part of your Big Data strategy.