Big data. It’s not a lobbying group with an Oscar nominated movie about it. It’s the seemingly endless amount of information that can now be analyzed and used to affect your bottom line. That’s big data, and it’s a big deal.
The truth is, our world has gone through a significant digital transformation over the last decade. Now you can avoid old schoolmates on Facebook, shamelessly take selfies and have access to the ‘90s song Mambo No. 5 on your phone anywhere you go (what a time to be alive!). But with all that, we’ve also created an unfathomable amount of data that communicates just about everything about us, and with this digital transformation we now have the tools to analyze that data.
Sure, the FBI probably knows all about your last Google search. Hopefully, it wasn’t too embarrassing. But all this data is also being used in retail, with some interesting and profitable examples already. It can be used to predict trends, foresee surges in demand and help maintain stock levels – a few things we know all about too. Let’s just say, we’re big fans of big data.
But what’s really interesting is how it can help retailers attract new customers and connect with them in store and online. Imagine being able to know a customer is planning on buying something before they do? With predictive analysis of data, we can start to see patterns in behaviour and identify purchase triggers. Once we know that, all it takes is the right message and the right inventory to get the customer into your store instead of someone else’s.
Data can also help stores understand their customers better. By looking at your customers from a high-level, big data can start to create profiles and develop an understanding of their needs. With that level of information, you can start to tailor your store experience to their needs. Imagine knowing what day and time your customers will likely most need a certain product? You could personalize the store and have it right up front ready and waiting. Once upon a time greeting everyone was enough. Those days are gone (we still love an enthusiastic “howdy” – but maybe that’s just us).
Unless you’re trend junkies and numbers nerds like us, big data may seem a bit overwhelming – and that’s ok. But it’s worth considering and paying attention to. One of the largest retailers in the world – has invested heavily in it and has built the world’s largest private cloud server to exclusively store and analyze their data. But as technology advances, big data is increasingly not going to be just a tool for the big companies and it’s going to pay to be ready – at least that’s what big data says.